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Section 5—General Information(p22)



What are your rights as a taxpayer?(p22)


You have the right to be treated fairly, professionally, promptly, and courteously by IRS employees. Our goal at the IRS is to protect your rights so that you will have the highest confidence in the integrity, efficiency, and fairness of our tax system. To ensure that you always receive such treatment, you should know about the many rights you have at each step of the tax process. For details, see Pub. 1.

Income tax withholding and estimated tax payments for 2010.(p22)


If the amount you owe or your refund is large, you may want to file a new Form W-4 with your employer to change the amount of income tax withheld from your 2010 pay. For details on how to complete Form W-4, see Pub. 919. If you receive certain government payments (such as unemployment compensation or social security benefits), you can have tax withheld from those payments by giving the payer Form W-4V. In general, you do not have to make estimated tax payments if you expect that your 2010 tax return will show a tax refund or a tax balance due of less than $1,000. See Pub. 505 for more details.

Secure your records from identity theft.(p22)


Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information, such as your name, social security number (SSN), or other identifying information, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. An identity thief may use your SSN to get a job or may file a tax return using your SSN to receive a refund.
To reduce your risk:
If your tax records are affected by identity theft and you receive a notice from the IRS, respond right away to the name and phone number printed on the IRS notice or letter.
If your tax records are not currently affected by identity theft but you think you are at risk due to a lost or stolen purse or wallet, questionable credit card activity or credit report, etc., contact the IRS Identity Theft Hotline at 1-800-908-4490 or submit Form 14039.
For more information, see Pub. 4535.
Victims of identity theft who are experiencing economic harm or a systemic problem, or are seeking help in resolving tax problems that have not been resolved through normal channels, may be eligible for Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) assistance. You can reach TAS by calling the National Taxpayer Advocate Help Line at 1-877-777-4778 or TTY/TDD 1-800-829-4059.

Protect yourself from suspicious emails or phishing schemes.(p22)

Phishing is the creation and use of email and websites designed to mimic legitimate business emails and websites. The most common form is the act of sending an email to a user falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft.
The IRS does not initiate contacts with taxpayers via emails. Also, the IRS does not request personal information through email or ask taxpayers for the PIN numbers, passwords, or similar secret access information for their credit card, bank, or other financial accounts.
If you receive an unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS, forward the message to You may also report misuse of the IRS name, logo, forms, or other IRS property to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration toll-free at 1-800-366-4484. You can forward suspicious emails to the Federal Trade Commission at or contact them at or 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338).
Visit the IRS website at to learn more about identity theft and how to reduce your risk.

How long should you keep your tax return?(p22)


Keep a copy of your tax return, worksheets you used, and records of all items appearing on it (such as Forms W-2 and 1099) until the statute of limitations runs out for that return. Usually, this is 3 years from the date the return was due or filed or 2 years from the date the tax was paid, whichever is later. You should keep some records longer. See Pub. 552 for details.

How do you amend your tax return?(p22)


File Form 1040X to change a return you already filed. Generally, Form 1040X must be filed within 3 years after the date the original return was filed or within 2 years after the date the tax was paid, whichever is later. But you may have more time to file Form 1040X if you live in a federally declared disaster area or you are physically or mentally unable to manage your financial affairs. See Pub. 556 for details.

How do you get a copy of your tax return?(p22)


If you need a copy of your tax return, use Form 4506. There is a $57 fee (subject to change) for each return requested. If your main home, principal place of business, or tax records are located in a federally declared disaster area, this fee will be waived. If you want a free transcript of your tax return or account, use Form 4506-T or call us. See page 24 for the number.

Past due returns.(p22)


The integrity of our tax system and well-being of our country depend, to a large degree, on the timely filing and payment of taxes by each individual, family, and business in this country. Those choosing not to file and pay their fair share increase the burden on the rest of us to support our schools, maintain and repair roadways, and the many other ways our tax dollars help to make life easier for all citizens.
Some people don't know they should file a tax return; some don't file because they expect a refund; and some don't file because they owe taxes. Encourage your family, neighbors, friends, and coworkers to do their fair share by filing their federal tax returns and paying any tax due on time.
If you or someone you know needs to file past due tax returns, use TeleTax topic 153 (see page 26) or visit and click on Individuals for help in filing those returns. Send the returns to the address that applies to you in the latest Form 1040EZ instruction booklet. For example, if you are filing a 2006 return in 2010, use the address in this booklet. However, if you got an IRS notice, mail the return to the address in the notice.

Innocent spouse relief.(p22)


Generally, both you and your spouse are each responsible for paying the full amount of tax, interest, and penalties on your joint return. However, you may qualify for relief from liability for tax on a joint return if (a) there is an understatement of tax because your spouse omitted income or claimed false deductions or credits, (b) you are divorced, separated, or no longer living with your spouse, or (c) given all the facts and circumstances, it would not be fair to hold you liable for the tax. You also may qualify for relief if you were a married resident of a community property state but did not file a joint return and are now liable for an underpaid or understated tax. To request relief, you generally must file Form 8857 no later than 2 years after the date on which the IRS first attempted to collect the tax from you. For more information, see Pub. 971 and Form 8857 or you can call the Innocent Spouse office toll-free at 1-866-897-4270.

How do you make a gift to reduce debt held by the public?(p22)


If you wish to do so, make a check payable to Bureau of the Public Debt. You can send it to: Bureau of the Public Debt, Department G, P.O. Box 2188, Parkersburg, WV 26106-2188. Or you can enclose the check with your income tax return when you file.
You may be able to deduct this gift on your 2010 tax return.

Internal Revenue Service Customer Service Standards(p23)


At the IRS, our goal is to continually improve the quality of our services. To achieve that goal, we have developed customer service standards in the following areas: For information about our standards and a report of our accomplishments, see Pub. 2183.