How to Get Help with Your Taxes
You can get help with unresolved tax issues, order free publications and tax forms, ask tax questions, and get information from the IRS in several ways. By selecting the method that is best for you, you will be able to experience quick and easy access to tax help.
Local Taxpayer Advocates
The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent organization within the IRS. These advocates help taxpayers who are experiencing economic difficulty and are seeking help in resolving tax problems that have not been resolved through normal channels. Advocates are also available to assist taxpayers who believe that a particular IRS system or procedure is operating incorrectly.
Here are 7 things that every taxpayer should know about the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS):
- The TAS is your voice at the IRS.
- The service is free, confidential, and tailored to meet your particular needs.
- You may be eligible for TAS help if you have tried to resolve your tax problem through the normal IRS channels but have gotten nowhere, or if you believe that an IRS procedure just isn't working as it should.
- The TAS helps people whose tax problems are causing financial troubles or substantial costs (including the cost of professional representation). This applies to businesses as well as individuals.
- TAS employees are familiar with IRS programs and procedures and they know how to navigate through the system. Your advocate will listen to your problem and help you understand what needs to be done to resolve it. Your advocate will also stay with you every step of the way until your issue is resolved.
- The TAS has at least one local taxpayer advocate in every state, as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. You can find the phone number and address of your local TAS office by visiting the IRS website or by calling their toll-free line (1-877-777-4778). Another option is to complete Tax Form 911 (Request for Taxpayer Advocate Service Assistance) and fax or mail it to your local TAS office.
- Learn about your rights and responsibilities as a taxpayer by visiting the TAS Tax Toolkit website, an independently run website that provides information for individuals, businesses, and tax professionals.
Low-Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs)
The Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) Program serves individuals who have a problem with the IRS and whose income is below a certain level. It’s important to note that LITCs are independent from the IRS. Many clinics are able to provide taxpayers with free services — or charge a small fee — for things such as representation before the IRS or in court (for tax audits, tax collection disputes, and other tax issues). If an individual's native language is not English, some clinics can provide multilingual information regarding taxpayer rights and responsibilities. For information about the clinics in your area, see IRS Publication 4134 (Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List). For general questions about the LITC Program, you can call the LITC Program Office (202-317-4700) or email LITCProgramOffice@irs.gov.
Free Help with Preparing Your Tax Return
Free help in preparing your income tax return is available nationwide from IRS-trained volunteers. There are two major programs that offer free tax help to qualified taxpayers: Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE).
VITA is designed to assist low-income taxpayers who (earn $53,000 or less and) need help preparing their own tax returns. VITA volunteers are IRS-certified and can provide basic tax return preparation with electronic filing to eligible individuals in local communities. They may also be able to help you identify certain tax credits or tax deductions that you qualify for. Find your local VITA site by calling (1-800-906-9887).
TCE offers free tax help to anyone, but gives priority to taxpayers who are aged 60 and older. TCE volunteers are especially knowledgeable about tax issues that affect seniors, including pensions and retirement. Note that many of the TCE sites are managed by AARP’s Tax Aide Program. To find your local TCE or AARP Tax-Aide site, call (888-227-7669).
Walk-In Services (Self-Help Tax Preparation)
Many VITA and TCE locations also offer self-assistance service for individuals who have simple tax returns and only need a little help, or who don’t have access to a computer. These taxpayers can visit a participating office and a certified volunteer will help guide them through the process of filing a tax return.