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Section 5—General Information(p27)



The IRS Mission. Provide America's taxpayers top-quality service by helping them understand and meet their tax responsibilities and enforce the law with integrity and fairness to all.
Income tax withholding and estimated tax payments for 2017.(p27)
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 2017 pay. For details on how to complete Form W-4, see Pub. 505. 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.
You can use the IRS Withholding Calculator at, instead of Pub. 505 or the worksheets included with Form W-4 or W-4P, to determine whether you need to have your withholding increased or decreased.
In general, you do not have to make estimated tax payments if you expect that your 2017 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.(p27)
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. For more information, see Pub. 5027.
If your tax records aren't 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., visit to learn what steps you should take.
Victims of identity theft who are experiencing economic harm or a systemic problem, or are seeking help in resolving tax problems that haven't been resolved through normal channels, may be eligible for Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) assistance. You can reach TAS by calling the National Taxpayer Advocate Helpline at 1-877-777-4778. People who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability and who have access to TTY/TDD equipment can call 1-800-829-4059. Deaf or hard of hearing individuals can also contact the IRS through relay services such as the Federal Relay Service available at
Protect yourself from suspicious emails or phishing schemes.(p27)
Phishing is the creation and use of email and websites designed to mimic legitimate business emails and websites. The most common form is 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 doesn't initiate contacts with taxpayers via emails. Also, the IRS doesn't request detailed 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. People who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability and who have access to TTY/TDD equipment can call 1-800-877-8339.
You can forward suspicious emails to the Federal Trade Commission at or contact them at or 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338). People who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability and who have access to TTY/TDD equipment can call 1-866-653-4261.
Visit and enter identity theft in the search box to learn more about identity theft and how to reduce your risk.
How Long Should Records Be Kept?(p27)
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. For more details, see chapter 1 of Pub. 17.
Amended Return(p28)
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.
Use the "Where's My Amended Return" application on to track the status of your amended return. It can take up to 3 weeks from the date you mailed it to show up in our system.
Need a Copy of Your Tax Return Information?(p28)
Tax return transcripts are free and are generally used to validate income and tax filing status for mortgage applications, student and small business loan applications, and during tax preparation. To get a free transcript:If you need a copy of your actual tax return, use Form 4506. There is a fee for each return requested. See Form 4506 for the current fee. If your main home, principal place of business, or tax records are located in a federally declared disaster area, this fee will be waived.
Past due returns. (p28)
If you or someone you know needs to file past due tax returns, see Tax Topic 153 at or visit for help in filing those returns. Send the returns to the address that applies to you in the latest Form 1040EZ instructions. For example, if you are filing a 2013 return in 2017, use the address at the end of these instructions. However, if you got an IRS notice, mail the return to the address in the notice.
Innocent spouse relief.(p28)
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 wouldn't be fair to hold you liable for the tax. File Form 8857 to request relief. In some cases, Form 8857 may need to be filed within 2 years of the date on which the IRS first attempted to collect the tax from you. Do not file Form 8857 with your Form 1040EZ. For more information, see Pub. 971 and Form 8857 or you can call the Innocent Spouse office toll-free at 1-855-851-2009.
How do you make a gift to reduce debt held by the public?(p28)
If you wish to do so, make a check payable to Bureau of the Fiscal Service. You can send it to:

Bureau of the Fiscal Service
Attn Dept G
P.O. Box 2188
Parkersburg, WV 26106-2188

Or you can enclose the check with your income tax return when you file. In the memo section of the check, note that it is a gift to reduce the debt held by the public. Do not add your gift to any tax you may owe. See the instructions for line 14 for details on how to pay any tax you owe.
For information on how to make this gift online, go to and click on How To Make a Contribution to Reduce the Debt.
You may be able to deduct this gift on your 2017 tax return.

The Taxpayer Advocate Service Is Here To Help You(p28)


What is the Taxpayer Advocate Service?(p28)

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

What can the Taxpayer Advocate Service do for you?(p28)

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 issues. TAS can help you if:

How can you reach us?(p28)

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 at 1-877-777-4778.

How can you learn about your taxpayer rights?(p28)

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 Taxpayer Advocate Service help taxpayers?(p29)

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 Help Taxpayers(p29)

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