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Publication 721

How To Get Tax Help(p25)

You can get help with unresolved tax issues, order free publications and forms, ask tax questions, and get information from the IRS in several ways. By selecting the method that is best for you, you will have quick and easy access to tax help.

Free help with your return.(p25)

Free help in preparing your return is available nationwide from IRS-certified volunteers. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is designed to help low-moderate income taxpayers and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program is designed to assist taxpayers age 60 and older with their tax returns. Most VITA and TCE sites offer free electronic filing and all volunteers will let you know about credits and deductions you may be entitled to claim. To find the nearest VITA or TCE site, visit or call 1-800-906-9887 or 1-800-829-1040.
As part of the TCE program, AARP offers the Tax-Aide counseling program. To find the nearest AARP Tax-Aide site, call 1-888-227-7669 or visit AARP's website at
For more information on these programs, go to and enter keyword "VITA" in the upper right-hand corner.
Internet. You can access the IRS website at 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to:
  • Check the status of your 2011 refund. Go to and click on Where's My Refund. Wait at least 72 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of your e-filed return, or 3 to 4 weeks after mailing a paper return. If you filed Form 8379 with your return, wait 14 weeks (11 weeks if you filed electronically). Have your 2011 tax return available so you can provide your social security number, your filing status, and the exact whole dollar amount of your refund.
  • E-file your return. Find out about commercial tax preparation and e-file services available free to eligible taxpayers.
  • Download forms, including talking tax forms, instructions, and publications.
  • Order IRS products online.
  • Research your tax questions online.
  • Search publications online by topic or keyword.
  • Use the online Internal Revenue Code, regulations, or other official guidance.
  • View Internal Revenue Bulletins (IRBs) published in the last few years.
  • Figure your withholding allowances using the withholding calculator online at
  • Determine if Form 6251 must be filed by using our Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) Assistant available online at
  • Sign up to receive local and national tax news by email.
  • Get information on starting and operating a small business.
Phone. Many services are available by phone.  
  • Ordering forms, instructions, and publications. Call 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676) to order current-year forms, instructions, and publications, and prior-year forms and instructions. You should receive your order within 10 days.
  • Asking tax questions. Call the IRS with your tax questions at 1-800-829-1040.
  • Solving problems. You can get face-to-face help solving tax problems every business day in IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers. An employee can explain IRS letters, request adjustments to your account, or help you set up a payment plan. Call your local Taxpayer Assistance Center for an appointment. To find the number, go to or look in the phone book under United States Government, Internal Revenue Service.
  • TTY/TDD equipment. If you have access to TTY/TDD equipment, call 1-800-829-4059 to ask tax questions or to order forms and publications.
  • TeleTax topics. Call 1-800-829-4477 to listen to pre-recorded messages covering various tax topics.
  • Refund information. You can check the status of your refund on the new IRS phone app . Download the free IRS2Go app by visiting the iTunes app store or the Android Marketplace. IRS2Go is a new way to provide you with information and tools. To check the status of your refund by phone, call 1-800-829-4477 (automated refund information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week). Wait at least 72 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of your e-filed return, or 3 to 4 weeks after mailing a paper return. If you filed Form 8379 with your return, wait 14 weeks (11 weeks if you filed electronically). Have your 2011 tax return available so you can provide your social security number, your filing status, and the exact whole dollar amount of your refund. If you check the status of your refund and are not given the date it will be issued, please wait until the next week before checking back.
  • Other refund information. To check the status of a prior-year refund or amended return refund, call 1-800-829-1040.
Evaluating the quality of our telephone services. To ensure IRS representatives give accurate, courteous, and professional answers, we use several methods to evaluate the quality of our telephone services. One method is for a second IRS representative to listen in on or record random telephone calls. Another is to ask some callers to complete a short survey at the end of the call.
Walk In
Walk-in. Many products and services are available on a walk-in basis. 
  • Products. You can walk in to many post offices, libraries, and IRS offices to pick up certain forms, instructions, and publications. Some IRS offices, libraries, grocery stores, copy centers, city and county government offices, credit unions, and office supply stores have a collection of products available to print from a CD or photocopy from reproducible proofs. Also, some IRS offices and libraries have the Internal Revenue Code, regulations, Internal Revenue Bulletins, and Cumulative Bulletins available for research purposes.
  • Services. You can walk in to your local Taxpayer Assistance Center every business day for personal, face-to-face tax help. An employee can explain IRS letters, request adjustments to your tax account, or help you set up a payment plan. If you need to resolve a tax problem, have questions about how the tax law applies to your individual tax return, or you are more comfortable talking with someone in person, visit your local Taxpayer Assistance Center where you can spread out your records and talk with an IRS representative face-to-face. No appointment is necessary—just walk in. If you prefer, you can call your local Center and leave a message requesting an appointment to resolve a tax account issue. A representative will call you back within 2 business days to schedule an in-person appointment at your convenience. If you have an ongoing, complex tax account problem or a special need, such as a disability, an appointment can be requested. All other issues will be handled without an appointment. To find the number of your local office, go to or look in the phone book under United States Government, Internal Revenue Service.
Due date
Mail. You can send your order for forms, instructions, and publications to the address below. You should receive a response within 10 days after your request is received.

Internal Revenue Service
1201 N. Mitsubishi Motorway
Bloomington, IL 61705-6613


Taxpayer Advocate Service.(p26)

The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is your voice at the IRS. Our job is to ensure that every taxpayer is treated fairly, and that you know and understand your rights. We offer free help to guide you through the often-confusing process of resolving tax problems that you haven’t been able to solve on your own. Remember, the worst thing you can do is nothing at all.
TAS can help if you can’t resolve your problem with the IRS and:
If you qualify for our help, we’ll do everything we can to get your problem resolved. You will be assigned to one advocate who will be with you at every turn. We have offices in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Although TAS is independent within the IRS, our advocates know how to work with the IRS to get your problems resolved. And our services are always free.
As a taxpayer, you have rights that the IRS must abide by in its dealings with you. Our tax toolkit at can help you understand these rights.
If you think TAS might be able to help you, call your local advocate, whose number is in your phone book and on our website at You can also call our toll-free number at 1-877-777-4778.
TAS also handles large-scale or systemic problems that affect many taxpayers. If you know of one of these broad issues, please report it to us through our Systemic Advocacy Management System at
Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs).(p27)
Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) are independent from the IRS. Some clinics serve individuals whose income is below a certain level and who need to resolve a tax problem. These clinics provide professional representation before the IRS or in court on audits, appeals, tax collection disputes, and other issues for free or for a small fee. Some clinics can provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in many different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language. For more information and to find a clinic near you, see the LITC page on or IRS Publication 4134, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List. This publication is also available by calling 1-800-829-3676 or at your local IRS office.

Free tax services.(p27)

Publication 910, IRS Guide to Free Tax Services, is your guide to IRS services and resources. Learn about free tax information from the IRS, including publications, services, and education and assistance programs. The publication also has an index of over 100 TeleTax topics (recorded tax information) you can listen to on the telephone. The majority of the information and services listed in this publication are available to you free of charge. If there is a fee associated with a resource or service, it is listed in the publication.
Accessible versions of IRS published products are available on request in a variety of alternative formats for people with disabilities.
DVD for tax products. You can order Publication 1796, IRS Tax Products DVD, and obtain:
  • Current-year forms, instructions, and publications.
  • Prior-year forms, instructions, and publications.
  • Tax Map: an electronic research tool and finding aid.
  • Tax law frequently asked questions.
  • Tax Topics from the IRS telephone response system.
  • Internal Revenue Code—Title 26 of the U.S. Code.
  • Links to other Internet based Tax Research materials.
  • Fill-in, print, and save features for most tax forms.
  • Internal Revenue Bulletins.
  • Toll-free and email technical support.
  • Two releases during the year.
    – The first release will ship the beginning of January 2012.
    – The final release will ship the beginning of March 2012.
Purchase the DVD from National Technical Information Service (NTIS) at for $30 (no handling fee) or call 1-877-233-6767 toll free to buy the DVD for $30 (plus a $6 handling fee).

Worksheet A. Simplified Method

See the instructions in Part II of this publication under Simplified Method.

1.Enter the total pension or annuity payments received this year. Also, add this amount to the total for Form 1040, line 16a; Form 1040A, line 12a; or Form 1040NR, line 17a 1.
2.Enter your cost in the plan at the annuity starting date, plus any death benefit exclusion*. See Your cost in Part II, Rules for Retirees, earlier 2.
Note: If your annuity starting date was before this year and you completed this worksheet last year, skip line 3 and enter the amount from line 4 of last year's worksheet on line 4 below (even if the amount of your pension or annuity has changed). Otherwise, go to line 3. 
3.Enter the appropriate number from Table 1 below. But if your annuity starting date was after 1997 and the payments are for your life and that of your beneficiary, enter the appropriate number from Table 2 below. 3.
4.Divide line 2 by the number on line 34.
5.Multiply line 4 by the number of months for which this year's payments were made. If your annuity starting date was before 1987, enter this amount on line 8 below and skip lines 6, 7, 10, and 11. Otherwise, go to line 6 5.
6.Enter any amounts previously recovered tax free in years after 1986. This is the amount shown on line 10 of your worksheet for last year 6.
7.Subtract line 6 from line 27.
8.Enter the smaller of line 5 or line 7 8.
9.Taxable amount for year. Subtract line 8 from line 1. Enter the result, but not less than zero. Also, add this amount to the total for Form 1040, line 16b, or Form 1040A, line 12b. If you are a nonresident alien, enter this amount on line 1 of Worksheet C. If your Form CSA 1099R or Form CSF 1099R shows a larger amount, use the amount figured on this line instead. If you are a retired public safety officer, see Distributions Used To Pay Insurance Premiums for Public Safety Officers in Part II before entering an amount on your tax return or Worksheet C, line 1 9.
10.Was your annuity starting date before 1987?
box Yes. stop Do not complete the rest of this worksheet.

box No. Add lines 6 and 8. This is the amount you have recovered tax free through 2011. You will need this number if you need to fill out this worksheet next year
11.Balance of cost to be recovered. Subtract line 10 from line 2. If zero, you will not have to complete this worksheet next year. The payments you receive next year will generally be fully taxable 11.
Table 1 for Line 3 Above
 IF your age on your annuity
starting date was
 AND your annuity starting date was—
  before November 19, 1996,
THEN enter on line 3
after November 18, 1996,
THEN enter on line 3
 55 or under300360
 71 or over120160

Table 2 for Line 3 Above
 IF the annuitants' combined ages on your annuity starting date were THEN enter on line 3   
 110 or under 410   
 111–120 360   
 121–130 310   
 131–140 260   
 141 or over 210   
* A death benefit exclusion of up to $5,000 applied to certain benefits received by survivors of employees who died before August 21, 1996.


Worksheet B. Lump-Sum Payment
See the instructions in Part II of this publication under Alternative Annuity Option.

Enter your lump-sum credit (your cost in the plan at the annuity starting date)1.
2.Enter the present value of your annuity contract2.
3.Divide line 1 by line 23.
4.Tax-free amount. Multiply line 1 by line 3. (Caution: Do not include this amount on line 6 of Worksheet A in this publication.) 4.
5.Taxable amount (net cost in the plan). Subtract line 4 from line 1. Include this amount in the total on Form 1040, line 16b; Form 1040A, line 12b; or Form 1040NR, line 17b. Also, enter this amount on line 2 of Worksheet A in this publication. 5.

Tax Publications for Individual Taxpayers See How To Get Tax Help for a variety of ways to get publications, including by computer, phone, and mail.

General Guides
1Your Rights as a Taxpayer
17Your Federal Income Tax For Individuals
334Tax Guide for Small Business (For Individuals Who Use Schedule C or C-EZ)
509Tax Calendars for 2012
910IRS Guide to Free Tax Services
Specialized Publications
3Armed Forces’ Tax Guide
54Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad
225Farmer’s Tax Guide
463Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses
501Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information
502Medical and Dental Expenses (Including the Health Coverage Tax Credit)
503Child and Dependent Care Expenses
504Divorced or Separated Individuals
505Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax
514Foreign Tax Credit for Individuals
516U.S. Government Civilian Employees Stationed Abroad
517Social Security and Other Information for Members of the Clergy and Religious Workers
519U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens
521Moving Expenses
523Selling Your Home
524Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled
525Taxable and Nontaxable Income
526Charitable Contributions
527Residential Rental Property (Including Rental of Vacation Homes)
529Miscellaneous Deductions
530Tax Information for Homeowners
531Reporting Tip Income
535Business Expenses
536Net Operating Losses (NOLs) for Individuals, Estates, and Trusts
537Installment Sales
544Sales and Other Dispositions of Assets
547Casualties, Disasters, and Thefts
550Investment Income and Expenses (Including Capital Gains and Losses)
551Basis of Assets
554Tax Guide for Seniors
555Community Property
556Examination of Returns, Appeal Rights, and Claims for Refund
559Survivors, Executors, and Administrators
561Determining the Value of Donated Property
570Tax Guide for Individuals With Income From U.S. Possessions
571Tax-Sheltered Annuity Plans (403(b) Plans) For Employees of Public Schools and Certain Tax-Exempt Organizations
575Pension and Annuity Income
584Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook (Personal-Use Property)
587Business Use of Your Home (Including Use by Daycare Providers)
590Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs)
594The IRS Collection Process
596Earned Income Credit (EIC)
721Tax Guide to U.S. Civil Service Retirement Benefits
901U.S. Tax Treaties
907Tax Highlights for Persons with Disabilities
908Bankruptcy Tax Guide
915Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits
925Passive Activity and At-Risk Rules
926Household Employer’s Tax Guide For Wages Paid in 2012
929Tax Rules for Children and Dependents
936Home Mortgage Interest Deduction
946How To Depreciate Property
947Practice Before the IRS and Power of Attorney
950Introduction to Estate and Gift Taxes
969Health Savings Accounts and Other Tax-Favored Health Plans
970Tax Benefits for Education
971Innocent Spouse Relief
972Child Tax Credit
1542Per Diem Rates (For Travel Within the Continental United States)
1544Reporting Cash Payments of Over $10,000 (Received in a Trade or Business)
1546Taxpayer Advocate Service – Your Voice at the IRS
Spanish Language Publications
1SPDerechos del Contribuyente
17(SP)El Impuesto Federal sobre los Ingresos Para Personas Fisicas
547(SP)Hechos Fortuitos Desastres y Robos
584(SP)Registro de Pérdidas por Hechos Fortuitos (Imprevistos), Desastres y Robos (Propiedad de Uso Personal)
594SPEl Proceso de Cobro del IRS
596SPCrédito por Ingreso del Trabajo
850(EN/SP)English-Spanish Glossary of Words and Phrases Used in Publications Issued by the Internal Revenue Service
Informe de Pagos en Efectivo en Exceso de $10,000 (Recibidos en una Ocupación o Negocio)


Commonly Used Tax Forms See How To Get Tax Help for a variety of ways to get forms, including by computer, phone, and mail.

Form Number and Title
1040U.S. Individual Income Tax Return
 Sch A Itemized Deductions
 Sch B Interest and Ordinary Dividends
 Sch C Profit or Loss From Business
 Sch C-EZ Net Profit From Business
 Sch D Capital Gains and Losses
 Sch E Supplemental Income and Loss
 Sch EIC Earned Income Credit
 Sch F Profit or Loss From Farming
 Sch H Household Employment Taxes
 Sch J Income Averaging for Farmers and
 Sch R Credit for the Elderly or
  the Disabled
 Sch SE Self-Employment Tax
1040A U.S. Individual Income Tax Return
Sch BInterest and Ordinary Dividends
1040EZ Income Tax Return for Single and Joint Filers With No Dependents
1040-ES Estimated Tax for Individuals
1040X Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return
2106 Employee Business Expenses
2106-EZ Unreimbursed Employee Business Expenses
2210 Underpayment of Estimated Tax by Individuals, Estates, and Trusts
2441 Child and Dependent Care Expenses
2848 Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative
2848(SP) Poder Legal y Declaración del Representante
3903 Moving Expenses
4562 Depreciation and Amortization
4868 Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return
4868(SP) Solicitud de Prórroga Automática para Presentar la Declaración del Impuesto sobre el Ingreso Personal de los Estados Unidos
4952 Investment Interest Expense Deduction
5329 Additional Taxes on Qualified Plans (Including IRAs) and Other Tax-Favored Accounts
6251 Alternative Minimum Tax—Individuals
8283 Noncash Charitable Contributions
8582 Passive Activity Loss Limitations
8606 Nondeductible IRAs
8812 Additional Child Tax Credit
8822 Change of Address
8829 Expenses for Business Use of Your Home
8863 Education Credits (American Opportunity, and Lifetime Learning Credits)
8949Sales and Other Dispositions of Capital Assets
9465 Installment Agreement Request
9465(SP) Solicitud para un Plan de Pagos a Plazos