This section is dedicated to providing you education and links to valuable resources related to various tax situations you may encounter. With everything in life, it is important to educate yourself, and it is also important to understand the value of experienced tax subject matter experts who can advocate on your behalf and provide you peace of mind.
Tax Self Help
As advocates for Americans nationwide, we want to help as many taxpayers as possible. However, in certain situations, our services might not be a fit. There are free programs available to help specific taxpayers resolve their tax issues. Even if you are not eligible for these free programs, TAHR Services Inc provides answers to some frequently encountered tax questions below.
The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program offers free tax help to individuals who are age 60 or older. Cooperative grant agreements are entered into between IRS and eligible organizations to provide tax assistance to elderly taxpayers.
Tax return preparation assistance is provided to elderly taxpayers during the normal period for filing Federal income tax returns, which is from January 1 to April 15 each year. However, the program activities required to make sure elderly taxpayers receive efficient and quality tax assistance can be conducted year-round.
Through the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program, eligible taxpayers can get free, local, one-on-one help to prepare and file their taxes. The several thousand community-based sites are staffed by IRS trained and certified volunteers. Low- and moderate-income taxpayers and those age 60 and above can find the nearest site on IRS.gov’s VITA/TCE Site Locator.
The IRS provides free tax help to military members and their families through its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA). VITA offers free tax preparation and e-filing at sites both on and off base. It also has sites to help our military overseas. Here are five things to know about free tax help for the military:
Armed Forces Tax Council. The Armed Forces Tax Council oversees the military tax programs offered worldwide. AFTC partners with the IRS to conduct outreach to military personnel and their families. This includes the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Volunteer tax sites. IRS-trained volunteers staff the military VITA sites. They receive training on military tax issues, such as combat zone tax benefits, extensions of time to file and pay and special rules for the Earned Income Tax Credit
What to bring. To get free tax help, bring the following records to your military VITA site:
- Valid photo identification.
- Social Security cards for you, your spouse and dependents. If you don’t have a card you should get a letter from the Social Security Administration to verify your information.
- Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents.
- Your wage and earning forms, such as Forms W-2, W-2G, and 1099-R.
- Interest and dividend statements (Forms 1099).
- A copy of your last year’s federal and state tax returns, if available.
- Routing and account numbers for direct deposit of your tax refund.
- Total amount you paid for day care and the day care provider’s identifying number. This is usually an Employer Identification Number or Social Security number.
- Other relevant information about your income and expenses.
If you are married and file a joint return, generally both you and your spouse need to sign the return. If you both can’t be present to sign, you should bring a valid power of attorney form. Use Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative.
There is a special exception to this rule if your spouse is in a combat zone. The exception allows a spouse to file a joint return with a signed statement explaining that the other spouse is in a combat zone and unable to sign.
No matter your income level, you can use Free File Fillable Forms. These are identical to IRS paper forms, so this option is like the old “pencil and calculator” method of filing. However, the fillable forms don’t come with any additional guidance. If you plan to use this option, you should be comfortable with the process of completing a tax return.
You may find more information on Free File Software and Free File Fillable Forms at IRS.gov Free File.
You must pay taxes as you earn or receive income during the year, either through proper paycheck withholdings or estimated tax payments.
Taxes taken from your payroll check (withholdings)
You can make changes to the amount your employer withholds from each of your paychecks by filling out an IRS Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, and giving it to the person who takes care of your payroll. The reason you complete an IRS Form W-4 is so your employer can withhold the correct federal income tax from your pay. You should consider completing a new IRS Form W-4 when your personal or financial situation changes.
You may use the IRS withholding calculator to figure your federal income tax and withholding. The withholding calculator is a tool on IRS.gov designed to help you determine how to have the right amount of tax withheld from your paychecks.
When you use the withholding calculator, it will help you determine if you need to adjust your withholding and submit a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, to your employer.
Estimated tax payments for self-employed taxpayers (usually business owners)
If you’re subject to self-employment (SE) tax and income tax, you’re generally required to make estimated tax payments quarterly to the IRS. It’s important to look at your business profit and loss during the year to find out if you need to make estimated payments. If it looks like you’ll owe SE tax at the end of the year, you’ll likely need to make quarterly estimated tax payments.
You can use IRS Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals, to figure your estimated tax. You could be subject to a penalty if you don’t have enough withholding or estimated payments on your account.
By using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool available on IRS.gov and on the official IRS mobile app, IRS2Go, taxpayers can easily find the most up-to-date information about their tax refund.
Taxpayers can start checking on the status of their return within 24 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of a taxpayer’s e-filed return or four weeks after the taxpayer mailed in a paper return.
The system is updated daily, so there’s no need to check more often.
IRS Direct Pay offers taxpayers the fastest and easiest way to pay what they owe. This free online system allows individuals to securely pay their tax bills or make quarterly estimated tax payments directly from checking or savings accounts without fees or pre-registration.
See IRS.gov/Payments for information on this and other payment options.
The “Where’s My Amended Return?” tool provides the status of an amended tax return, Form 1040X. Taxpayers can check on the current year 1040X and up to three prior years. Allow up to three weeks after filing to check on the initial status, and up to 16 weeks for processing.
IRS Letters and Notices
Worried that your notice might be a scam? Unfortunately, scam artists and some marketers use fake letters to trick people into sending them money or signing up for their services.
Did you receive an IRS letter or notice? Don’t panic too much about the letter, most of these letters come off in a harsh tone but can be resolved through a few steps. Below are some normal IRS letters that the IRS sends. Although the IRS is systematic, sometimes notices can be skipped if you have had problems in the past and for other reasons.
The IRS CP11 is a notice issued when the IRS has adjusted the taxpayers tax return as a result of a miscalculation on the filers part. As a result of the adjustment, a balance is owed by the taxpayer.
The CP11 provides an explanation of the changes that were made to the taxpayers return with a specific description of the areas in the return where the miscalculations were found.
The IRS CP22A is a notice issued when the IRS has updated the taxpayers return as a result of a correction the filer has made to their return or amended return.
As a result of the taxpayer’s correction(s) and or amended return the IRS has updated the return. The update to the return by the IRS results in an amount due by the taxpayer.
The IRS CP22E is a notice from the IRS acknowledging the IRS has audited your tax return. As a result of the audit, a balance is owed by you which is indicated on the notice. The notice deadline is indicated on the form.
If you disagree with the results of the audit and the changes made to your tax return you should call the IRS with the letter and have your account information readily available to you.
The IRS CP23 is a notice from the IRS which most likely indicates they have rectified the amount of estimated tax payments you indicated were made on your tax return and the amount they have posted to your account. It can also reflect other changes made to your return while it was processed. The CP23 will indicate a balance due as a result of the IRS amending your return.
As a result of the IRS reconciling the taxpayers actual estimated payments with those their records reflect and or any other changes they have made, you will have a balance due.
The IRS sends notice CP40 after it assigns your account to a third-party collection agency. Generally, this only happens if the IRS has been unable to collect the tax debt on its own.
Notice CP71C is the IRS’s annual reminder of your tax due plus penalties and interest. It also notes that you have seriously delinquent tax debt, and once the IRS certifies your debt to the State Department, you won’t be able to obtain, renew, or use your passport.
You may have received a notice from the IRS called “CP75.” This notice is a request for supporting documentation to verify that you are eligible for credits or income that you claimed on your tax return. The CP75 notice will list the specific documents that the IRS needs in order to process your claim. You can mail or fax your supporting documents to the address or number listed on the notice. Once the IRS receives your documentation, they will process your claim.
The IRS CP88 is a notice from the IRS indicating that they are not going to be issuing the taxpayer a refund claimed due because their records indicate you have one or more years of unfiled returns with them.
The IRS CP90 is a serious notice which makes it imperative you respond to it immediately. This notice is sent after the IRS has sent you multiple other notices seeking payment for your back taxes. The CP90 notifies you of the IRS intent to levy certain assets. These assets can include but are not limited to your social security benefits, wages and bank account.
The IRS CP91 and CP298 notice is a serious notice which makes it imperative you take action immediately. This notice is sent after the IRS has sent you multiple other notices to pay this assessment. The CP91/298 notifies you of the IRS intent to levy up to 15% of your social security benefits to pay the tax owed.
The IRS CP161 is a notice sent to businesses informing you of a balance due. This notice is often misinterpreted as a math error notice. This is not the case. It shows the tax that was reported on your return, the payment that you made, accrued penalties, accrued interest and the amount due.
IRS cp162 is a form that is used to inform taxpayers of penalties that have been assessed against them. The form includes the taxpayer’s name, address, and social security number, as well as the amount of the penalty and the reason for it. Penalties can be assessed for partnership, S-corp, and Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits (REMIC) returns that were late, incomplete, or not filed electronically. CP162 forms are typically sent by certified mail, and taxpayers have 30 days to appeal the penalty. If you have received an IRS cp162 form, it is important to take action as soon as possible to avoid further penalties. For more information on the CP 162 read the details.
The IRS CP297 is sent to a business and it’s a final notice to inform you that the IRS intends to levy or seize your property. It’s most commonly sent regarding unpaid business taxes. You have received this notice after multiple other notices have been sent and not responded to. This is a final notice giving you 30 days to pay the balance due or the IRS can levy or seize your business assets, bank account, income and other assets.
The IRS CP297A is a letter sent notifying of the IRS intent to levy certain assets. The CP297A is more consequential than the CP297 because it says a levy has been issued on federal contractor payments due you, employee travel costs, federal reimbursements and retirement funds.
The CP14 informs you that you owe the IRS money as a result of an underpayment or non-payment of your taxes. The amount due will be indicated on the return. This notice is frequently associated with missed estimated tax penalties and generally is the first notice from the IRS.
The IRS CP501 sometimes referred to as the first notice, is sent to inform you that you have a balance due. In most cases you receive this because you didn’t respond to the CP14 notice. If you owe the IRS amount due in this notice you have begun to incur penalties and interest on that balance. It’s not an urgent notice, however, if ignored will lead to other notices and possible levies or tax liens filed against you.
The IRS CP503 is generally a third notice sent via certified mail after two previous notices have been sent and not responded to. It informs you of a tax balance due. The top right-hand portion of the notice will document the tax year you owe for and the tax balance due. You generally have 10 days to respond to this notice
The CP504 sometimes referred to as Final Notice, is a serious notice that you don’t want to ignore. It’s a final notice of the IRS intent to levy taxpayers who have an unpaid balance with the IRS. The CP504B is basically the same notice sent to business instead of individual taxpayer. It will detail the penalties and interest your account has accrued since the last notice received. If you don’t pay the amount due, you generally have 30 days before the IRS can levy your income and bank accounts, social security benefits, seize your state income tax refund, personal assets (car and home not excluded) and if a business file a federal contractors levy.
Lastly, the IRS can also file a notice of federal tax lien which notifies your creditors or potential creditors that the IRS has rights to your existing assets and any you may acquire after the lien is filed. The federal tax lien can have an adverse impact on your ability to get credit to the extent its public for creditors to see.
The IRS has likely made numerous attempts to collect by the time the taxpayer receives this notice. If no action is taken within 30 days, the IRS has the right to levy or seize assets.
The IRS hasn’t received any payment for overdue taxes and they intend to seize assets if no action is taken. The IRS may also place a lien on your property.
The IRS sends the CP523 notice when you have defaulted on your existing installment agreement, and they plan to terminate it. When you receive the CP523, there is still time to take action and get back into compliance.
The IRS will send CP2000 when it has made proposed changes to your tax return. This happens when the information reported on your tax return doesn’t match with the information the agency received from other entities. This is not a bill, it is shown as a proposed amount due based on the difference.
If the IRS decides to audit your tax return, the agency will send you an audit notice. Also called an examination letter, this notice will outline the type and scope of the audit. It will tell you which information you need to provide to the IRS, and it will establish a timeline for the audit.
IRS Tax Forms
Here is a link to the IRS website and forms list. FORMS