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Publication 225

Chapter 16
How To Get Tax Help(p86)

Do you need help with a tax issue or preparing your tax return, or do you need a free publication or form?

Small Business and Self-Employed (SB/SE) Tax Center.(p86)

SB/SE serves taxpayers who file Form 1040, Schedules C, E, F, or Form 2106, as well as small businesses with assets under $10 million.

A-Z Index for Business.(p86)

Find it fast! Know what you're looking for and want to find it fast? Select business topics using our A-Z listing, or by business type such as sole proprietor, corporation, etc. We also provide links to major business subjects, such as Business Expenses, which provides a gateway to all related information on that subject.

Preparing and filing your tax return.(p86)

On you can find free options to prepare and file your return in your local community if you qualify.
The VITA program offers free tax help to people who generally make $53,000 or less, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and limited-English-speaking taxpayers who need help preparing their own tax returns. The TCE program offers free tax help for all taxpayers, particularly those who are 60 years of age and older. TCE volunteers specialize in answering questions about pensions and retirement-related issues unique to seniors.

How to choose a tax return preparer.(p86)

If you choose to have someone prepare your tax return, choose that preparer wisely. A paid tax return preparer is primarily responsible for the overall substantive accuracy of your tax return and, by law, is required to sign the return and include their preparer tax identification number (PTIN) on it. Although the tax return preparer signs the return, you are ultimately responsible for the accuracy of every item reported on your return. Anyone paid to prepare tax returns for others should have a thorough understanding of tax matters and is required to have a PTIN. You may want to ask friends, co-workers, or your employer for help in selecting a competent tax return preparer.
For your convenience, the IRS provides an online database for all Authorized IRS e-file Providers that choose to be included in the database. You can locate the closest Authorized IRS e-file Providers in your area where you can electronically file your tax return. For more information on finding a tax return preparer who provides IRS e-file, see Authorized IRS e-file Providers for Individuals on, or go to The inclusion in this database does not constitute any endorsement by the IRS of the e-file Providers listed in this database or any of the products or services that they provide. You should always be sure to conduct your own due diligence when selecting an e-file Provider. In addition to the Authorized IRS e-file Provider locator tool above, you can also find professional help through the IRS Tax Professional Partner page at
Choose a tax return preparer you will be able to contact in case the IRS examines your return and has questions regarding how your return was prepared. You can designate your paid tax return preparer or another third party to speak to the IRS concerning the preparation of your return, payment/refund issues, and mathematical errors. The third party authorization checkbox on Form 1040, Form 1040A, and Form 1040EZ gives the designated party the authority to receive and inspect returns and return information for one year from the original due date of your return (without regard to extensions). You can extend the authority to receive and inspect returns and return information to a third party using Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization.
The following points will assist you when selecting a tax return preparer.

Getting answers to your tax law questions.(p87)

rule and IRS2Go are ready when you are—24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Getting tax forms and publications.(p87)

You can download or print all of the forms and publications you may need from Otherwise, you can: You should receive your order within 10 business days.

Getting a transcript or copy of a return.(p87)

You can get a transcript by mail to view your tax account transactions or line-by-line tax return information for a specific tax year. The method you used to file your return and whether you have a refund or balance due, affects your current year transcript availability. Generally, these transcript types are available for the current tax year and three prior years. IRS transcripts are best and most often used to validate past income and tax filing status for mortgage, student, and small business loan applications, and to help with tax preparation. If you need an account transcript for an older tax year, a wage and income transcript or a verification of non-filing letter, you’ll need to complete Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return, and send it to us as instructed on the form. If you made estimated tax payments and/or applied your overpayment from a prior year tax return to your current year tax return, you can request a tax account transcript to confirm these payments or credits a few weeks after the beginning of the calendar year prior to filing your current year return. For the list of the various types of transcripts available for you to order, see Transcript Types and Ways to Order Them at To order your transcript, you can use one of the following convenient options.
The IRS never sends email requesting that you obtain or access your transcripts. If you receive such an email, please forward it to our fraud group at
A transcript isn’t a photocopy of your return. If you need a copy of your original return, complete and mail Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, available at, along with the applicable fee.

Using online tools to help prepare your return.(p87)

Go to and click on the Tools bar to use these and other self-service options.

Where to file your tax return.(p88)


Understanding identity (ID) theft issues.(p88)

The FTC works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint, for example, to report someone falsely claiming to be from the government, a business, or a family member, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistantor call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. Complaints from consumers help the FTC detect patterns of fraud and abuse. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics, in English and in Spanish.
Consumer complaints regarding international scams can be reported online through These are also entered into Consumer Sentinel, the complaint database maintained by the FTC, and are made available to enforcers and regulators in countries with participating agencies. Those agencies may use the complaints to investigate cross-border issues, uncover new scams, pursue regulatory or enforcement actions, and spot consumer trends.

Recognizing and reporting tax scams.(p88)

The Dirty Dozen is compiled annually by the IRS and lists a variety of common scams taxpayers may encounter any time during the year. Many of these con games peak during filing season as people prepare their tax returns or hire someone to do so. Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain near the top of the annual Dirty Dozen list of tax scams for the 2015 filing season.
Scammers are able to alter caller identification (caller ID) numbers to make it look like the IRS is calling. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification or badge numbers. They often leave "urgent" callback requests. They prey on the most vulnerable people, such as the elderly, newly arrived immigrants, and those whose first language is not English. Scammers have been known to impersonate agents of IRS Criminal Investigation as well.
Be cautious when receiving suspicious calls at home or at work from sources claiming to be from the IRS, other agencies or outside sources asking for money, credit card information or threatening to have you arrested for not paying. These callers may demand money or may say you have a refund due and try to trick you into sharing private information. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They may know a lot about you.
Here are five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam.
The IRS will never do any of the following.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do.
Remember, too, the IRS does not use email, text messages, or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue involving bills or refunds. If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS regarding a refund owed to you and asking you for your social security number and bank account information, do not give them this information. You should make notes of all information regarding the call and/or the caller, for example, any caller ID information, and report this scam. For more information on reporting tax scams, go to and type "scam" in the search box. You can verify any potential refunds owed to you by contacting the IRS directly.
Additional information about tax scams is available on IRS social media sites, including YouTube,, and Tumblr,, where people can search "scam" to find all the scam-related posts.

Checking on the status of a refund.(p88)


Making a tax payment.(p88)

You can make electronic payments online, by phone, or from a mobile device. Paying electronically is safe and secure. The IRS uses the latest encryption technology and does not store banking information. It’s easy and secure and much quicker than mailing in a check or money order. Go to and click on the Payments tab or the "Pay Your Tax Bill" icon to make a payment using the following options.

What if I can’t pay now?(p89)

Click on the Payments tab or the "Pay Your Tax Bill" icon on to find more information about these additional options.

Checking the status of an amended return.(p89)

Go to and click on the Tools tab and then Where’s My Amended Return? to check the status of your amended return.

Filing past due tax returns.(p89)

File all tax returns that are due, regardless of whether or not you can pay in full. File your past due return the same way and to the same location where you would file an on-time return. If you have received a notice, make sure to send your past due return to the location indicated on the notice you received. If you have a past due return, filing your past due return now can help you do the following.

Substitute return.(p89)

If you fail to file voluntarily, we may file a substitute return for you, based on income reported to the IRS. This return might not give you credit for deductions and exemptions you may be entitled to receive. We will send you a Notice of Deficiency CP3219N (90-day letter) proposing a tax assessment. You will have 90 days to file your past due tax return or file a petition in Tax Court. If you do neither, we will proceed with our proposed assessment. If you have received a Notice of Deficiency CP3219N, you can not request an extension to file.
If any of the income listed is incorrect, you may do the following.
If the IRS files a substitute return, it is still in your best interest to file your own tax return to take advantage of any exemptions, credits, and deductions you are entitled to receive. The IRS will generally adjust your account to reflect the correct figures. If you filed a past due return and have received a notice, you should send us a copy of the past due return to the indicated address. It takes approximately 6 weeks for us to process an accurately completed past due tax return.

Understanding an IRS notice or letter.(p89)

Enter "Understanding your notice" in the search box on or go to to find additional information about your IRS notice or letter. We will send you a notice or letter if any of the following applies.
When you receive correspondence from us, read the entire notice or letter carefully. Typically, we only need a response if you don’t agree with the information, we need additional information, or you have a balance due. If we changed your tax return, compare the information we provided in the notice or letter with the information in your original return. If we receive a return that we suspect is identity theft, we will ask you to verify your identity using the web address provided in the letter.
If we ask for a response within a specific timeframe, you must respond on time to minimize additional interest and penalty charges or to preserve your appeal rights if you don’t agree. Pay as much as you can, even if you can’t pay the full amount you owe. You can pay online or apply for an Online Payment Agreement or Offer in Compromise. See What if I can’t pay now? above or visit our payments page,, for more information.
We provide our contact phone number on the top right-hand corner of our correspondence. Be sure you have your tax return and any related documentation available when you call. You can also write to us at the address in the correspondence to explain why you disagree. If you write, allow at least 30 days for our response. Keep a copy of all correspondence with your tax records.

Collection and enforcement actions.(p89)

The return we prepare for you (our proposed assessment) will lead to a tax bill, which, if unpaid, will trigger the collection process. This can include such actions as a levy on your wages or bank account or the filing of a notice of federal tax lien. If you repeatedly do not file, you could be subject to additional enforcement measures, such as additional penalties and/or criminal prosecution.

Visiting the IRS.(p89)

Locate the nearest Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) using the Office Locator tool on Enter "office locator" in the search box. Or choose the "Contact Us" option on the IRS2Go app and search Local Offices. Before you visit, use the Locator tool to check hours and services available.

Watching IRS videos.(p89)

The IRS Video Portal,, contains video and audio presentations on topics of interest to individuals, small businesses, and tax professionals. You’ll find video clips of tax topics, archived versions of live panel discussions and webinars, and audio archives of tax practitioner phone forums.

Getting tax information in other languages.(p89)

For taxpayers whose native language is not English, we have the following resources available.
  1. Taxpayers can find information on in the following languages.
    1. Spanish.
    2. Chinese.
    3. Vietnamese.
    4. Korean.
    5. Russian.
  2. The IRS TACs provide over-the-phone interpreter service in over 170 languages, and the service is available free to taxpayers.

The Taxpayer Advocate Service Is Here To Help You(p90)


What is the Taxpayer Advocate Service?(p90)

The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent organization within the IRS that helps taxpayers and protects taxpayer rights. Our job is to ensure that every taxpayer is treated fairly and that you know and understand your rights under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights groups the existing rights in the tax code into ten fundamental rights, and makes them clear, understandable, and accessible. See How Can You Learn About Your Taxpayer Rights? below.

What Can the TAS Do For You?(p90)

We can help you resolve problems that you can’t resolve with the IRS. And our service is free. If you qualify for our assistance, you will be assigned to one advocate who will work with you throughout the process and will do everything possible to resolve your issue. The TAS can help you if:

How Can You Reach Us?(p90)

We have offices in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Your local advocate’s number is in your local directory and at You can also call us toll free at 1-877-777-4778.

How Can You Learn About Your Taxpayer Rights?(p90)

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights describes ten basic rights that all taxpayers have when dealing with the IRS. Our Tax Toolkit at can help you understand what these rights mean to you and how they apply. These are your rights. Know them. Use them.
The IRS released the Taxpayer Bill of Rights following extensive discussions with the Taxpayer Advocate Service. You can find a list of your rights and the IRS’s obligations to protect them in Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer. It includes the following.
  1. The Right To Be Informed. Taxpayers have the right to know what they need to do to comply with the tax laws. They are entitled to clear explanations of the laws and IRS procedures in all tax forms, instructions, publications, notices, and correspondence. They have the right to be informed of IRS decisions about their tax accounts and to receive clear explanations of the outcomes.
  2. The Right to Quality Service. Taxpayers have the right to receive prompt, courteous, and professional assistance in their dealings with the IRS, to be spoken to in a way they can easily understand, to receive clear and easily understandable communications from the IRS, and to speak to a supervisor about inadequate service.
  3. The Right To Pay No More Than the Correct Amount of Tax. Taxpayers have the right to pay only the amount of tax legally due, including interest and penalties, and to have the IRS apply all tax payments properly.
  4. The Right To Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard. Taxpayers have the right to raise objections and provide additional documentation in response to formal IRS actions or proposed actions, to expect that the IRS will consider their timely objections and documentation promptly and fairly, and to receive a response if the IRS does not agree with their position.
  5. The Right To Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum. Taxpayers are entitled to a fair and impartial administrative appeal of most IRS decisions, including many penalties, and have the right to receive a written response regarding the Office of Appeals’ decision. Taxpayers generally have the right to take their cases to court.
  6. The Right to Finality. Taxpayers have the right to know the maximum amount of time they have to challenge the IRS’s position as well as the maximum amount of time the IRS has to audit a particular tax year or collect a tax debt. Taxpayers have the right to know when the IRS has finished an audit.
  7. The Right to Privacy. Taxpayers have the right to expect that any IRS inquiry, examination, or enforcement action will comply with the law and be no more intrusive than necessary, and will respect all due process rights, including search and seizure protections, and will provide, where applicable, a collection due process hearing.
  8. The Right to Confidentiality. Taxpayers have the right to expect that any information they provide to the IRS will not be disclosed unless authorized by the taxpayer or by law. Taxpayers have the right to expect appropriate action will be taken against employees, return preparers, and others who wrongfully use or disclose taxpayer return information.
  9. The Right To Retain Representation. Taxpayers have the right to retain an authorized representative of their choice to represent them in their dealings with the IRS. Taxpayers have the right to seek assistance from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic if they cannot afford representation.
  10. The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System. Taxpayers have the right to expect the tax system to consider facts and circumstances that might affect their underlying liabilities, ability to pay, or ability to provide information timely. Taxpayers have the right to receive assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Service if they are experiencing financial difficulty or if the IRS has not resolved their tax issues properly and timely through its normal channels.
The IRS is trying to increase the number of Americans who know and understand their rights under the tax law. To expand awareness, the IRS is making Publication 1 available in multiple languages on This important publication is available in the following languages. The IRS will include Publication 1 when sending notices to taxpayers on a range of issues, such as an audit or collection matter. All IRS facilities will publicly display the rights for taxpayers and employees to see.

How Else Does the TAS Help Taxpayers?(p90)

The TAS works to resolve large-scale problems that affect many taxpayers. If you know of one of these broad issues, please report it to us at

Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs)(p90)

LITCs serve individuals whose income is below a certain level and need to resolve tax problems such as audits, appeals, and tax collection disputes. Some LITCs can provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language. To find an LITC near you, visit or see IRS Publication 4134, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List.