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Publication 535

Chapter 12
How To Get Tax Help(p47)

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.(p47)

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.(p47)

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.(p47)

Find free options to prepare and file your return on or in your local community if you qualify.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (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 Tax Counseling for the Elderly (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. (p47)

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 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.
The following points will assist you when selecting a tax return preparer.
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.

Getting answers to your tax law questions.(p48)

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

Tax forms and publications.(p48)

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

Getting a transcript or copy of a return.(p48)


Using online tools to help prepare your return.(p48)

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

Where to file your tax return.(p48)


Understanding identity (ID) theft issues.(p48)


Recognizing and reporting tax scams.(p48)

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 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 from IRS Criminal Investigation as well.
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. For more information on reporting tax scams, go to and type "scam" in the search box.
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.(p49)


Making a tax payment.(p49)

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?(p49)

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.(p49)

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.(p49)

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.(p49)

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.(p49)

Enter "Understanding your notice" in the search box on to find additional information about your IRS notice or letter.

Collection and enforcement actions.(p49)

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.(p49)

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.(p49)

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.(p49)

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(p49)


What is the Taxpayer Advocate Service?(p49)

The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent organization within the Internal Revenue Service 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.

What Can the TAS Do For You?(p49)

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?(p50)

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?(p50)

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.

How Else Does the TAS Help Taxpayers?(p50)

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(p50)

Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (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.