- What are some important tax dates and timelines?
- How do I contact the IRS?
- How do I find where my tax refund is?
- What is in the IRS Resources website section?
- What are some online taxpayer tools I can use?
- How can the IRS help a small business owner?
- What is the IRS Taxpayer Advocacy Service?
- What are some taxpayer mistakes to avoid?
Important Tax Dates and IRS Timelines
Getting Your W2
Your employer is required by federal law to mail your W2 no later than January 31st. If you do not receive your W-2 by March 1, you have the option of applying for a tax filing extension through the IRS. This postpones the due date of your tax forms until October 15th of the year.
IRS Opening Day
The IRS typcially opens it's e-file doors around January 15th of each year. You can always mail your paper return prior to the e-file date, however the fastest way to get your refund is to e-file. Starting as early as December, Taxbrain allows you to prepare your federal tax return. As soon as the IRS is ready, Taxbrain will automatically submit it for you.
IRS Refund Processing Time
According to the IRS Refund Cycle Chart, the IRS can direct deposit your refund in 9-14 days, or send you a paper check in 15-22 days.
You can view the IRS Refund E-File Cycle Chart Here: www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p2043.pdf
Contacting the IRS & Techniques to Use
Taxpayers can contact the IRS by phone, mail, and online using the information below: IRS by Phone:
- Toll-free number for individuals: 1-800-829-1040
- For business owners, the IRS offers a live Telephone Assistance for Business hotline through the toll free number at 1-800-829-4933.
- Toll-free phone number for the hearing impaired: 1-800-829-4059 (TDD) The hours of operation of from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Monday - Friday.
Visit the IRS.gov site, or call the IRS numbers above to find the mailing address for you to submit to.
Of course, taxpayers can also contact the IRS via their website at www.IRS.gov
Even though many fear dealing with the IRS, there are some simple suggestions to follow to ease your nervousness when you do contact them.
- Ask for their help. State you have a concern that needs addressing using a tone with the IRS representative that you would expect to be used with you.
- If you are calling regarding a notice you received, have the document in front of you. The IRS will need the Notice # (located in the upper right hand portion of the letter).
- If meeting in person, have the requested documents ready, categorized, and filed in an accordion-style file folder. To ease the process, use a color coding system. For instance, use blue labels for expenses, and red labels for income. Color coding helps items stand out from another.
- If you are calling regarding a question on a tax form, have the line number in question along with the amount.
- When calling the IRS, Tuesdays through Thursdays are the best days to call. These days are known for less incoming phone traffic then Monday and Friday. Hour-wise, try avoid calling from 8-9am and 4-5pm any day. The wait times are known to be excessive during these hours. This applies for all time zones.
- Upon making a deal, stick with it. If circumstances change thereby making it difficult to keep your previous arrangement (loss of employment, death of spouse, etc.), call the IRS as soon as possible. Explain what happened and that you would like a new arrangement.
- Know your budget and financial situation. Do not let the IRS talk you into a payment arrangement or an amount you cannot afford.
- Do not falsify information given to the IRS. The IRS has a multitude of ways to find information about you. Don’t make it difficult for yourself.
Finding Your Refund
Every taxpayer is anxious to receive their tax refund. The IRS offers a new service titled “Where’s My Refund?” to ease taxpayer’s concerns about when to receive their tax refund.
To obtain information on tax refund status, taxpayers must have their social security number, filing status, and refund amount available for input into the site. Paper returns filed by snail mail cannot be checked into until about 4-6 weeks after mailing the return. E-filers can check on the status of their refund approximately 7 days after filing their return.
Taxpayers can find out if their return has been received, if the refund was processed, and when the direct deposit made or the refund check was mailed.
The “Where’s My Refund?” online service is not available on Mondays from 12:00am to 3:00am EST.
If taxpayers want to have a refund trace performed, and have not received their refund within 28 days from the mailing date, they can also do that by using the “Where’s My Refund?” service. There are date and time limits, though, for a refund trace.
Information regarding refunds associated with amended returns (1040X) are not available from this online service.
Taxpayers can also call an automated IRS line for refund information at 1-800-829-4477. Or, taxpayers can call and speak to a live representative at 1-800-829-1040.
IRS Online Taxpayer Resources
The IRS has a website that contains a wealth of information, tools, and resources to help taxpayers find and do practically anything they want to related to the IRS. The "resources" section allows visitors to find out where their local IRS branch office is. Once visitors find out the location, there is contact information available.
What is particularly nice about the ‘Resources’ section is the availability and capability for visitors to view, order, and/or download forms and publications. Forms are in PDF, so visitors must have this program in order to use this section. Forms are listed numerically, and have the form name alongside the number. Instructions are available in this section, also. Visitors can find out where to file their federal taxes in this section. Simply click on ‘Where to File’ and you can choose the state you live in. The site prompts visitors through to obtain the mailing address needed.
There is a common question and answer section, which is informative and detailed.
For those interested in staying up-to-date with tax issues, there is a ‘News’ section to click on. The Taxpayer Advocacy Section is also in the Resources’ section. This lets visitors know how the IRS helps resolve issues.
IRS Online Taxpayer Tools
In addition to the knowledge base, forms and publications, and variety of other services available on their website, the IRS has some powerful tools available for use that can help taxpayers with their tax returns including:
- IRS Withholding Calculator. Employees can use this tool to find out if too much or not enough withholding is taken from their paychecks.
You can view the IRS Withholding Calculator Here: http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=96196,00.html
- E-file providers. Here, individual taxpayers can find out where local e-filing providers are located.
- Online payment agreements. Taxpayers can apply for an installment agreement on paying off their tax liability. Requirement apply such as: taxpayer must have an IRS bill; taxpayer must have filed all required tax returns, must owe less than $25,000, and must be able to pay the entire liability within 60 months.
- EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) Assistant. For both English and Spanish speaking taxpayers, this tool will help you find out if you are eligible for EITC. It also answers questions you may have.
- EFTPS (Electronic Federal Tax Payment System). Provided by the U.S. Department of Treasury, this free feature allows taxpayers to pay their taxes online or by phone 24/7.
- AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax) Assistant. This tool is a simple test for taxpayers who do not use tax software. It helps them determine whether they are subject to AMT.
- Search for tax exempt charities. An online version of Publication 78 (Cumulative List of Organizations), this tool assists taxpayers in learning if an organization is tax exempt (from federal tax). If so, it helps taxpayers determine how much of their charitable contribution is tax deductible.
- Subscription services. There are a number of items taxpayers can subscribe to in order to receive tax updates or IRS-related information. For instance, IRS Tax Tips provides tax information throughout the year; SB/SE mailing list consists information about IRS small business and self-employed outreach products and programs; and Quick Alerts is a list involving e-filing messaging.
IRS Small Business Help
The IRS.gov website also contains a wealth of information geared towards the small business owner and/or self-employed person. Known as ‘Small Business and Self-Employed One-Stop Resource’, this section contains a huge variety of tools and information a small business owner needs for success.
Visit the Small Business Forms & Publications section to find out which forms apply to your business success. You can download them along with instructions. All the forms you could possibly need are listed here so you don’t have to search through the forms listing located in the Forms & Publications section of the IRS site. The forms and publications found in the Small Business section are, of course, specifically for the small business owner.
The section titled ‘Starting, Operating, and Closing a Business’ provides a huge amount of information and tools useful for success. For instance, there is a Small Business Tax Calendar which is a great aid for business finance coordination. There also is an area titled ‘Tax Topics’. Of course, the ‘deductions and credits’ section is a must read for tax success.
Visitors can view an Online Learning & Educational Products Section. Lessons start with federal taxes and what new business owners need to know and ends with where to turn for help.
Visitors can obtain an EIN through this section. They can choose from electronic payment options and also register and transmit online W-2 (SSA Online Wage Reporting Service). This is a fantastic section where business owners can learn new subjects related to successfully operating a business and make operating a business more convenient.
If small business owners are interested in obtaining hard copies of publications regarding small business issues (without going online), they can call 1-800-829-4933.
Taxpayer Advocacy Service
Sometimes taxpayers have difficulties resolving issues with the IRS through no fault of their own. The IRS has a service it provides titled ‘Taxpayer Advocacy Service’. This service may help you resolve a problem that could not be settled through through normal IRS channels. More information about what this service is and how you can benefit are as follows:
Generally, the Taxpayer Advocate Service can help if, as a result of the administration of the tax laws, you:
- Are suffering, or are about to suffer, a significant hardship;
- Are facing an immediate threat of adverse action;
- Will incur significant cost (including fees for professional representation);
- Will suffer irreparable injury or long-term adverse impact;
- Have experienced a delay of more than 30 days to resolve the issue; or
- Have not received a response or resolution by the date promised.
If you have an ongoing issue with the IRS that has not been resolved through normal processes, or you have suffered, or are about to suffer a significant hardship as a result of the administration of the tax laws, contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service.
Note: The Taxpayer Advocate Service is not a substitute for established IRS procedures or the formal Appeals process. The Taxpayer Advocate Service cannot reverse legal or technical tax determinations.
Your assigned Case Advocate will listen to your point of view and will work with you to address your concerns. You can expect the advocate to provide you with:
- An impartial and independent look at your problem;
- Timely acknowledgment;
- The name and phone number of the individual assigned to your case;
- Updates on progress;
- Time frames for action;
- Speedy resolution; and
- Courteous service.
What info should I provide?
- Your name, address, and social security number (or employer identification number),
- Your telephone number and hours you can be reached,
- Your previous attempts to solve the problem, and the office you contacted,
- The type of tax return and year(s) involved, and
- Description of the problem or hardship (if applicable).
If you want to authorize another person to discuss the matter or to receive information about your case, download Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative . You may also download Form 2848 Instructions. Or, you may use Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization if you want another person to receive information about your case but not represent you. If you are unable to download and print these documents, you can get them at most local IRS offices or by calling the IRS forms-only number, 1-800-829-3676
Taxpayer Mistakes to Avoid
Taxpayers unknowingly commit some common, harmful mistakes when dealing with the IRS. Make sure you understand those mistakes so you can avoid having any future problems when dealing with the IRS.
- Putting up with an unreasonable or incompetent revenue officer. If you think you’re being overly mistreated or victimized by an incompetent or overbearing revenue officer, then demand transfer of your case to another revenue officer. If you are not satisfied with this, contact the Taxpayer Advocacy Service of the IRS. While revenue officers must be tough to be effective and collect, they must also act reasonably.
- Not knowing where you stand. Ask the revenue officer what further action you must take and what you might expect from the IRS. Never assume you know where matters stand or what will happen next. Avoid nasty surprises. And when the IRS says something – get it in writing.
- Admitting to violating tax laws. If a revenue officer tries to get incriminating statements from you, then terminate the interview and hire an attorney. If interviewed by a special agent or recited your Fifth Amendment rights, stop talking and find an attorney.
- Ignoring the IRS. Reply to all IRS correspondence and promptly return phone calls. Your willingness to communicate will help win IRS cooperation. However, do not needlessly volunteer information. 5) Not paying any taxes. Pay your taxes if you can afford to pay the entire tax liability. The IRS will recommend you to sell or borrow against your assets. This will be cheaper than having the IRS as a creditor. If you cannot afford to pay all of your taxes by selling or borrowing against your assets, consider an Offer in Compromise before paying only part of your liability.