This section explains how to get ready to fill in your tax return and when to report your income and expenses. It also explains how to complete certain sections of the form. You may find Table 1-6 helpful when you prepare your return.
In most cases, based on the paper return you filed last year, the IRS will mail you Form 1040, Form 1040A, or Form 1040EZ with related instructions. Before you fill in the form, look at the form instructions to see if you need, or would benefit from filing, a different form this year. Also see if you need any additional forms or schedules. You may also want to read Does My Return Have To Be on Paper
If you do not receive a tax return package in the mail, or if you need other forms, you can order them or print them from the Internet. See How To Get Tax Help
in the back of this publication.
Table 1-6. Six Steps for Preparing Your Return
|1||—||Get your records together for income and expenses.|
|2||—||Get the forms, schedules, and publications you need.|
|3||—||Fill in your return.|
|4||—||Check your return to make sure it is correct.|
|5||—||Sign and date your return.|
|6||—||Attach all required forms and schedules.|
You cannot use your own version of a tax form unless it meets the requirements explained in Publication 1167, General Rules and Specifications for Substitute Forms and Schedules. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031942
If you are an employee, you should receive Form W-2 from your employer. You will need the information from this form to prepare your return. See Form W-2
under Credit for Withholding and Estimated Tax
in chapter 4.
Your employer is required to provide or send Form W-2 to you no later than February 2, 2009. If it is mailed, you should allow adequate time to receive it before contacting your employer. If you still do not get the form by February 15, the IRS can help you by requesting the form from your employer. When you request IRS help, be prepared to provide the following information.
- Your name, address (including ZIP code), and phone number.
- Your SSN.
- Your dates of employment.
- Your employer's name, address (including ZIP code), and phone number.
If you received certain types of income, you may receive a Form 1099. For example, if you received taxable interest of $10 or more, the payer is required to provide or send Form 1099 to you no later than February 2, 2009. If it is mailed, you should allow adequate time to receive it before contacting the payer. If you still do not get the form by February 15, call the IRS for help. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031944
You must figure your taxable income on the basis of a tax year. A "tax year" is an annual accounting period used for keeping records and reporting income and expenses. You must account for your income and expenses in a way that clearly shows your taxable income. The way you do this is called an accounting method. This section explains which accounting periods and methods you can use. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031945
Most individual tax returns cover a calendar year—the 12 months from January 1 through December 31. If you do not use a calendar year, your accounting period is a fiscal year. A regular fiscal year is a 12-month period that ends on the last day of any month except December. A 52-53-week fiscal year varies from 52 to 53 weeks and always ends on the same day of the week.
You choose your accounting period (tax year) when you file your first income tax return. It cannot be longer than 12 months. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031946
For more information on accounting periods, including how to change your accounting period, see Publication 538, Accounting Periods and Methods.taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031947
Your accounting method is the way you account for your income and expenses. Most taxpayers use either the cash method or an accrual method. You choose a method when you file your first income tax return. If you want to change your accounting method after that, you generally must get IRS approval. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031948
If you use this method, report all items of income in the year in which you actually or constructively receive them. Generally, you deduct all expenses in the year you actually pay them. This is the method most individual taxpayers use. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031949
Generally, you constructively receive income when it is credited to your account or set apart in any way that makes it available to you. You do not need to have physical possession of it. For example, interest credited to your bank account on December 31, 2008, is taxable income to you in 2008 if you could have withdrawn it in 2008 (even if the amount is not entered in your passbook or withdrawn until 2009). taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031950
If your employer uses your wages to pay your debts, or if your wages are attached or garnisheed, the full amount is constructively received by you. You must include these wages in income for the year you would have received them. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031951
If another person cancels or pays your debts (but not as a gift or loan), you have constructively received the amount and generally must include it in your gross income for the year. See Canceled Debts
in chapter 12 for more information.
If a third party is paid income from property you own, you have constructively received the income. It is the same as if you had actually received the income and paid it to the third party. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031953
Income an agent receives for you is income you constructively received in the year the agent receives it. If you indicate in a contract that your income is to be paid to another person, you must include the amount in your gross income when the other person receives it. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031954
A valid check that was made available to you before the end of the tax year is constructively received by you in that year. A check that was "made available to you" includes a check you have already received, but not cashed or deposited. It also includes, for example, your last paycheck of the year that your employer made available for you to pick up at the office before the end of the year. It is constructively received by you in that year whether or not you pick it up before the end of the year or wait to receive it by mail after the end of the year. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031955
There may be facts to show that you did not constructively receive income.taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031956
Alice Johnson, a teacher, agreed to her school board's condition that, in her absence, she would receive only the difference between her regular salary and the salary of a substitute teacher hired by the school board. Therefore, Alice did not constructively receive the amount by which her salary was reduced to pay the substitute teacher. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031957
If you use an accrual method, you generally report income when you earn it, rather than when you receive it. You generally deduct your expenses when you incur them, rather than when you pay them. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031958
An advance payment of income is generally included in gross income in the year you receive it. Your method of accounting does not matter as long as the income is available to you. An advance payment may include rent or interest you receive in advance and pay for services you will perform later.
A limited deferral until the next tax year may be allowed for certain advance payments. See Publication 538 for specific information. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031959
For more information on accounting methods, including how to change your accounting method, see Publication 538. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031960
You must enter your social security number (SSN) in the space provided on your return. Be sure the SSN on your return is the same as the SSN on your social security card. If you are married, enter the SSNs for both you and your spouse, whether you file jointly or separately.
If you are filing a joint return, write the SSNs in the same order as the names. Use this same order in submitting other forms and documents to the IRS.taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031961
If you changed your name because of marriage, divorce, etc., be sure to report the change to your local Social Security Administration (SSA) office before filing your return. This prevents delays in processing your return and issuing refunds. It also safeguards your future social security benefits. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031962
You must provide the SSN of each dependent you claim, regardless of the dependent's age. This requirement applies to all dependents (not just your children) claimed on your tax return. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031963
If your child was born and died in 2008 and you do not have an SSN for the child, enter "DIED" in column (2) of line 6c (Form 1040 or 1040A) and attach a copy of the child's birth certificate, death certificate, or hospital records.taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031964
File Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card, with your local SSA office to get an SSN for yourself or your dependent. It usually takes about 2 weeks to get an SSN. If you or your dependent is not eligible for an SSN, see Individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN)
If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien, you must show proof of age, identity, and citizenship or alien status with your Form SS-5. If you are 12 or older and have never been assigned an SSN, you must appear in person with this proof at an SSA office.
Form SS-5 is available at any SSA office, on the Internet at www.socialsecurity.gov
, or by calling 1-800-772-1213. If you have any questions about which documents you can use as proof of age, identity, or citizenship, contact your SSA office.
If your dependent does not have an SSN by the time your return is due, you may want to ask for an extension of time to file, as explained earlier under When Do I Have To File
If you do not provide a required SSN or if you provide an incorrect SSN, your tax may be increased and any refund may be reduced.taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031965
If you are in the process of adopting a child who is a U.S. citizen or resident and cannot get an SSN for the child until the adoption is final, you can apply for an ATIN to use instead of an SSN.
File Form W-7A, Application for Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions, with the IRS to get an ATIN if all of the following are true.
- You have a child living with you who was placed in your home for legal adoption.
- You cannot get the child's existing SSN even though you have made a reasonable attempt to get it from the birth parents, the placement agency, and other persons.
- You cannot get an SSN for the child from the SSA because, for example, the adoption is not final.
- You are eligible to claim the child as a dependent on your tax return.
After the adoption is final, you must apply for an SSN for the child. You cannot continue using the ATIN.
See Form W-7A for more information. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031966
If your spouse is a nonresident alien, your spouse must have either an SSN or an ITIN if:
- You file a joint return,
- You file a separate return and claim an exemption for your spouse, or
- Your spouse is filing a separate return.
If your spouse is not eligible for an SSN, see the next discussion
The IRS will issue you an ITIN if you are a nonresident or resident alien and you do not have and are not eligible to get an SSN. This also applies to an alien spouse or dependent. To apply for an ITIN, file Form W-7 with the IRS. It usually takes about 6 weeks to get an ITIN. Enter the ITIN on your tax return wherever an SSN is requested.
If you are applying for an ITIN for yourself, your spouse, or a dependent in order to file your tax return, attach your completed tax return to your Form W-7. See the Form W-7 instructions for how and where to file.
An ITIN is for tax use only. It does not entitle you or your dependent to social security benefits or change the employment or immigration status of either of you under U.S. law.
If you do not include your SSN or the SSN of your spouse or dependent as required, you may have to pay a penalty. See the discussion on Penalties
, later, for more information.
If you write to the IRS about your tax account, be sure to include your SSN (and the name and SSN of your spouse, if you filed a joint return) in your correspondence. Because your SSN is used to identify your account, this helps the IRS respond to your correspondence promptly.taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031972
This fund helps pay for Presidential election campaigns. The fund reduces candidates' dependence on large contributions from individuals and groups and places candidates on an equal financial footing in the general election. If you want $3 to go to this fund, check the box. If you are filing a joint return, your spouse can also have $3 go to the fund. If you check a box, your tax or refund will not change.taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031973
The following information on entering numbers on your tax return may be useful in making the return easier to complete.taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031974
You may round off cents to whole dollars on your return and schedules. If you do round to whole dollars, you must round all amounts. To round, drop amounts under 50 cents and increase amounts from 50 to 99 cents to the next dollar. For example, $1.39 becomes $1 and $2.50 becomes $3.
If you have to add two or more amounts to figure the amount to enter on a line, include cents when adding the amounts and round off only the total. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031975
You receive two Forms W-2: one showing wages of $5,000.55 and one showing wages of $18,500.73. On Form 1040, line 7, you would enter $23,501 ($5,000.55 + $18,500.73 = $23,501.28), not $23,502 ($5,001 + $18,501).taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031976
If you are asked to enter the smaller or larger of two equal amounts, enter that amount.taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031977
Line 1 is $500. Line 3 is $500. Line 5 asks you to enter the smaller of line 1 or 3. Enter $500 on line 5.taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031978
If you need to enter a negative amount, put the amount in parentheses rather than using a minus sign. To combine positive and negative amounts, add all the positive amounts together and then subtract the negative amounts.taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031979
Depending on the form you file and the items reported on your return, you may have to complete additional schedules and forms and attach them to your return.
You may be able to file a paperless return using IRS e-file. There's nothing to sign, attach, or mail, not even your Forms W-2.
Form W-2 is a statement from your employer of wages and other compensation paid to you and taxes withheld from your pay. You should have a Form W-2 from each employer. Be sure to attach a copy of Form W-2 in the place indicated on the front page of your return. Attach it only to the front page of your return, not to any attachments. For more information, see Form W-2
in chapter 4.
If you received a Form 1099-R, Distributions From Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, Insurance Contracts, etc., showing federal income tax withheld, attach a copy of that form in the place indicated on the front page of your return. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031982
There are no additional schedules to file with Form 1040EZ.taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031983
Attach the additional schedules and forms that you had to complete behind the Form 1040A in order by number. If you are filing Schedule EIC, put it last. Do not attach items unless required to do so.taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031984
Attach any forms and schedules behind Form 1040 in order of the "Attachment Sequence Number" shown in the upper right corner of the form or schedule. Then arrange all other statements or attachments in the same order as the forms and schedules they relate to and attach them last. Do not attach items unless required to do so.taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031985
You can authorize the IRS to discuss your return with a friend, family member, or any other person you choose. If you check the "Yes" box in the Third party designee
area of your 2008 tax return and provide the information required, you are authorizing:
- The IRS to call the designee to answer any questions that arise during the processing of your return, and
- The designee to
- Give information that is missing from your return to the IRS,
- Call the IRS for information about the processing of your return or the status of your refund or payments,
- Receive copies of notices or transcripts related to your return, upon request, and
- Respond to certain IRS notices about math errors, offsets (see Refunds, later), and return preparation.
The authorization will automatically end no later than the due date (without any extensions) for filing your 2009 tax return. This is April 15, 2010 for most people.
See your form instructions for more information.
If you want to allow the paid preparer who signed your return to discuss it with the IRS, just enter "Preparer" in the space for the designee's name.
You must sign and date your return. If you file a joint return, both you and your spouse must sign the return, even if only one of you had income.
If you file a joint return, both spouses are generally liable for the tax, and the entire tax liability may be assessed against either spouse. See chapter 2
If you are due a refund, it cannot be issued unless you have signed your return.
Enter your occupation in the space provided in the signature section. If you file a joint return, enter both your occupation and your spouse's occupation. Entering your daytime phone number may help speed the processing of your return.taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031990
You can appoint an agent to sign your return if you are:
- Unable to sign the return because of disease or injury,
- Absent from the United States for a continuous period of at least 60 days before the due date for filing your return, or
- Given permission to do so by the IRS office in your area.
A return signed by an agent in any of these cases must have a power of attorney (POA) attached that authorizes the agent to sign for you. You can use a POA that states that the agent is granted authority to sign the return, or you can use Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative. Part I of Form 2848 must state that the agent is granted authority to sign the return. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031992
If the taxpayer is mentally incompetent and cannot sign the return, it must be signed by a court-appointed representative who can act for the taxpayer.
If the taxpayer is mentally competent but physically unable to sign the return or POA, a valid "signature" is defined under state law. It can be anything that clearly indicates the taxpayer's intent to sign. For example, the taxpayer's "X" with the signatures of two witnesses might be considered a valid signature under a state's law. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031993taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031994
If a child has to file a tax return but cannot sign the return, the child's parent, guardian, or another legally responsible person must sign the child's name, followed by the words "By (your signature), parent for minor child." taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031995
Generally, anyone you pay to prepare, assist in preparing, or review your tax return must sign it and fill in the other blanks in the paid preparer's area of your return.
A paid preparer can sign the return manually or use a rubber stamp, mechanical device, or computer software program. The preparer is personally responsible for affixing his or her signature to the return.
If the preparer is self-employed (that is, not employed by any person or business to prepare the return), he or she should check the self-employed box in the Paid Preparer's Use Only space on the return.
The preparer must give you a copy of your return in addition to the copy filed with the IRS.
If you prepare your own return, leave this area blank. If another person prepares your return and does not charge you, that person should not sign your return.
If you have questions about whether a preparer must sign your return, contact any IRS office.taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100031996
When you complete your return, you will determine if you paid more income tax than you owed. If so, you can get a refund of the amount you overpaid or, if you file Form 1040 or Form 1040A, you can choose to apply all or part of the overpayment to your next year's (2009) estimated tax. You cannot have your overpayment applied to your 2009 estimated tax if you file Form 1040EZ.
If you choose to have a 2008 overpayment applied to your 2009 estimated tax, you cannot change your mind and have any of it refunded to you after the due date (without extensions) of your 2008 return.
Follow the form instructions to complete the entries to claim your refund and/or to apply your overpayment to your 2009 estimated tax.
If your refund for 2008 is large, you may want to decrease the amount of income tax withheld from your pay in 2009. See chapter 4
for more information.
Instead of getting a paper check, you may be able to have your refund deposited directly into your checking or savings account, including an individual retirement arrangement. Follow the form instructions to request direct deposit.
If the direct deposit cannot be done, the IRS will send a check instead.taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100032000
If you choose direct deposit, you may be able to split the refund and have it deposited among two or three accounts. If you want to split your refund, check the box on the line for the amount you want refunded to you. Then, complete Form 8888, Direct Deposit of Refund to More Than One Account, and attach it to your return.taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100032001
If your overpayment is less than one dollar, you will not get a refund unless you ask for it in writing. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100032002
Cash your tax refund check soon after you receive it. Checks not cashed within 12 months of the date they are issued will be canceled and the proceeds returned to the IRS.
If your check has been canceled, you can apply to the IRS to have it reissued. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100032003
If you receive a check for a refund you are not entitled to, or for an overpayment that should have been credited to estimated tax, do not cash the check. Call the IRS.
If you receive a check for more than the refund you claimed, do not cash the check until you receive a notice explaining the difference.
If your refund check is for less than you claimed, it should be accompanied by a notice explaining the difference. Cashing the check does not stop you from claiming an additional amount of refund.
If you did not receive a notice and you have any questions about the amount of your refund, you should wait 2 weeks. If you still have not received a notice, call the IRS.taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100032004
If you are due a refund but have not paid certain amounts you owe, all or part of your refund may be used to pay all or part of the past-due amount. This includes past-due federal income tax, other federal debts (such as student loans), state income tax, and child and spousal support payments. You will be notified if the refund you claimed has been offset against your debts. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100032005
When a joint return is filed and only one spouse owes a past-due amount, the other spouse can be considered an injured spouse. An injured spouse should file Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation, if both of the following apply and the spouse wants a refund of his or her share of the overpayment shown on the joint return.
- You are not legally obligated to pay the past-due amount.
- You made and reported tax payments (such as federal income tax withheld from your wages or estimated tax payments), or claimed a refundable tax credit (see the credits listed under Who Should File, earlier).
If the injured spouse's residence was in a community property state at any time during the tax year, then the injured spouse must only meet (1) above.
If you have not filed your joint return and you know that your joint refund will be offset, file Form 8379 with your return. You should receive your refund within 14 weeks from the date the paper return is filed or within 11 weeks from the date the return is filed electronically.
If you filed your joint return and your joint refund was offset, file Form 8379 by itself. When filed after offset, it can take up to 8 weeks to receive your refund. Do not attach the previously filed tax return, but do include copies of all Forms W-2 and W-2G for both spouses and any Forms 1099 that show income tax withheld. The processing of Form 8379 may be delayed if these forms are not attached, or if the form is incomplete when filed.
A separate Form 8379 must be filed for each tax year to be considered.
An injured spouse claim is different from an innocent spouse relief request. An injured spouse uses Form 8379 to request the division of the tax overpayment attributed to each spouse. An innocent spouse uses Form 8857, Request for Innocent Spouse Relief, to request relief from joint liability for tax, interest, and penalties on a joint return for items of the other spouse (or former spouse) that were incorrectly reported on the joint return. For information on innocent spouses, see Relief from joint liability
under Filing a Joint Return in chapter 2.
When you complete your return, you will determine if you have paid the full amount of tax that you owe. If you owe additional tax, you should pay it with your return.
If the IRS figures your tax for you, you will receive a bill for any tax that is due. You should pay this bill within 30 days (or by the due date of your return, if later). See Tax Figured by IRS
in chapter 30.
If you do not pay your tax when due, you may have to pay a failure-to-pay penalty. See Penalties
, later. For more information about your balance due, see Publication 594, The IRS Collection Process.
If the amount you owe for 2008 is large, you may want to increase the amount of income tax withheld from your pay or make estimated tax payments for 2009. See chapter 4
for more information.
If you have an amount due on your tax return, you can pay by check, money order, or credit card. If you filed electronically, you also may be able to make your payment electronically.
You do not have to pay if the amount you owe is less than $1.
If you pay by check or money order, make it out to the "United States Treasury." Show your correct name, address, SSN, daytime phone number, and the tax year and form number on the front of your check or money order. If you are filing a joint return, enter the SSN shown first on your tax return.
For example, if you file Form 1040 for 2008 and you owe additional tax, show your name, address, SSN, daytime phone number, and "2008 Form 1040" on the front of your check or money order. If you file an amended return (Form 1040X) for 2007 and you owe tax, show your name, address, SSN, daytime phone number, and "2007 Form 1040X" on the front of your check or money order.
Enclose your payment with your return, but do not attach it to the form. If you filed Form 1040, complete Form 1040-V, Payment Voucher, and enclose it with your payment and return. Form 1040-V will help us process your payment more accurately and efficiently. Follow the instructions that come with the form.
Do not mail cash with your return. If you pay cash at an IRS office, keep the receipt as part of your records. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100032014
If your check or money order is not honored by your bank (or other financial institution) and the IRS does not receive the funds, you still owe the tax. In addition, you may be subject to a dishonored check penalty. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100032015
Electronic payment options are convenient, safe, and secure methods for paying individual income taxes. There's no check to write, money order to buy, or voucher to mail. Payments can be made 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100032016
You can use your American Express® Card, Discover® Card, MasterCard® card, or Visa® card.
To pay by credit card, call a service provider and follow the recorded instructions. You can also pay by credit card over the Internet using a service provider's website.
The service providers charge a convenience fee based on the amount you are paying. Fees may vary between the providers. You will be told what the fee is during the transaction and will have the option to continue or end the transaction. You may also obtain the convenience fee by calling the service provider's automated customer service telephone number or visiting the provider's website.
Do not add the convenience fee to your tax payment.
Official Payments Corporation
|To make a payment, call||1-800-2PAY-TAXSM|
|For Customer Service||1-877-754-4413|
|To make a payment, call||1-888-PAY-1040SM|
|For Customer Service||1-888-658-5465|
You can e-file and pay in a single step by authorizing a credit card payment. This option is available through some tax software packages and tax professionals. You can also pay by credit card using the telephone or the Internet. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100032018
You can e-file and pay in a single step by authorizing an electronic funds withdrawal from your checking or savings account. If you select this payment option, you will need to have your account number, your financial institution's routing transit number, and account type (checking or savings). You can schedule the payment for any future date up to and including the return due date.
Be sure to check with your financial institution to make sure that an electronic funds withdrawal is allowed and to get the correct routing and account numbers.
EFTPS is a free tax payment system that all individual and business taxpayers can use. You can make payments online or by phone.
Here are just a few of the benefits of this easy-to-use system.
- Convenient and flexible. You can use it to schedule payments in advance. For example, you can schedule estimated tax payments (Form 1040-ES) or installment agreement payments weekly, monthly, or quarterly.
- Fast and accurate. You can make a tax payment in minutes. Because there are verification steps along the way, you can check and review your information before sending it.
- Safe and secure. It offers the highest available levels of security. Every transaction receives an immediate confirmation.
For more information or details on enrolling, visit www.eftps.gov
or call EFTPS Customer Service at 1-800-316-6541 (individual) or 1-800-555-4477 (business). TTY/TDD help is available by calling 1-800-733-4829.
Do not include any 2009 estimated tax payment in the payment for your 2008 income tax return. See chapter 4
for information on how to pay estimated tax.
Interest is charged on tax you do not pay by the due date of your return. Interest is charged even if you get an extension of time for filing.
If the IRS figures your tax for you, interest cannot start earlier than the 31st day after the IRS sends you a bill. For information, see Tax Figured by IRS
in chapter 30.
Interest is charged on the failure-to-file penalty, the accuracy-related penalty, and the fraud penalty from the due date of the return (including extensions) to the date of payment. Interest on other penalties starts on the date of notice and demand, but is not charged on penalties paid within 21 calendar days from the date of the notice (or within 10 business days if the notice is for $100,000 or more). taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100032025
All or part of any interest you were charged can be forgiven if the interest is due to an unreasonable error or delay by an officer or employee of the IRS in performing a ministerial or managerial act.
A ministerial act is a procedural or mechanical act that occurs during the processing of your case. A managerial act includes personnel transfers and extended personnel training. A decision concerning the proper application of federal tax law is not a ministerial or managerial act.
The interest can be forgiven only if you are not responsible in any important way for the error or delay and the IRS has notified you in writing of the deficiency or payment. For more information, see Publication 556, Examination of Returns, Appeal Rights, and Claims for Refund.
Interest and certain penalties may also be suspended for a limited period if you filed your return by the due date (including extensions) and the IRS does not provide you with a notice specifically stating your liability and the basis for it before the close of the 36-month period beginning on the later of:
- The date the return is filed, or
- The due date of the return without regard to extensions.
For more information, see Publication 556.
If you cannot pay the full amount due with your return, you can ask to make monthly installment payments for the full or a partial amount. However, you will be charged interest and may be charged a late payment penalty on the tax not paid by the date your return is due, even if your request to pay in installments is granted. If your request is granted, you must also pay a fee. To limit the interest and penalty charges, pay as much of the tax as possible with your return. But before requesting an installment agreement, you should consider other less costly alternatives, such as a bank loan.
To ask for an installment agreement, use Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request. You should receive a response to your request within 30 days. But if you file your return after March 31, it may take longer for a reply. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100032027
The IRS must agree to accept the full payment of your tax liability in installments if, as of the date you offer to enter into the agreement:
- Your total taxes (not counting interest, penalties, additions to the tax, or additional amounts) do not exceed $10,000,
- In the last 5 years, you (and your spouse if the liability relates to a joint return) have not:
- Failed to file any required income tax return,
- Failed to pay any tax shown on any such return, or
- Entered into an installment agreement for the payment of any income tax,
- You show you cannot pay your income tax in full when due,
- The tax will be paid in full in 3 years or less, and
- You agree to comply with the tax laws while your agreement is in effect.
You may be able to apply online for a payment agreement if you owe federal tax, interest, and penalties. If you have received a balance due notice from the IRS and you cannot pay in full, you may request a payment agreement. The OPA application allows you, or your authorized representative, to self-qualify for and apply for a payment agreement, receive notification of approval, and arrange a payment schedule.
To use the OPA application, you must have filed all required tax returns. You should also have the following information available:
- Balance due notice from the IRS.
- Social security number or individual taxpayer identification number.
- Personal identification number, which can be established online using the caller identification number from the balance due notice.
For more information and to access the OPA application, go to www.irs.gov
, use the pull-down menu under "I need to..." and select "Set Up a Payment Plan."
You can make a contribution (gift) to reduce debt held by the public. If you wish to do so, make a separate check payable to "Bureau of the Public Debt."
Send your check to:
Bureau of the Public Debt
P.O. Box 2188
Parkersburg, WV 26106-2188.
Or, enclose your separate check in the envelope with your income tax return. Do not add this gift to any tax you owe.
You can deduct this gift as a charitable contribution on next year's tax return if you itemize your deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040). taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100032031
After you have completed your return, peel off the label with your name and address from the back of your tax return package and place it in the appropriate area of the Form 1040, Form 1040A, or Form 1040EZ you send to the IRS. If you have someone prepare your return, give that person your label to use on your tax return.
If you file electronically and you are required to attach or file certain forms or worksheets use the label on Form 8453. (More information on electronic filing is found earlier in this chapter.)
The label helps the IRS to correctly identify your account. It also saves processing costs and speeds up processing so that refunds can be issued sooner.
You must write your SSN in the spaces provided on your tax return.
Make necessary name and address changes on the label. If you have an apartment number that is not shown on the label, please write it in. If you changed your name, see the discussion under Social Security Number
If you did not receive a tax return package with a label, print or type your name and address in the spaces provided at the top of Form 1040 or Form 1040A. If you are married filing a separate return, do not enter your spouse's name in the space at the top. Instead, enter his or her name in the space provided on line 3.
If you file Form 1040EZ and you do not have a label, print or type this information in the spaces provided.taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100032035
If your post office does not deliver mail to your street address and you have a P.O. box, print your P.O. box number on the line for your present home address instead of your street address. taxmap/pub17/p17-006.htm#en_us_publink100032036
If your address is outside the United States or its possessions or territories, enter the information on the line for "City, town or post office, state, and ZIP code" in the following order:
- Province or state, and
- Name of foreign country. (Do not abbreviate the name of the country.)
Follow the country's practice for entering the postal code.