With a few days remaining before the 2019 federal tax-filing deadline, demand for IRS tax help by phone is peaking. The IRS encourages taxpayers to make IRS.gov their first stop when questions arise.
IRS.gov offers online help for individual taxpayers as well as tax professionals. The website, which has more than 358 million pageviews this tax-filing season, offers answers to common taxpayer questions, such as:
Taxpayers have easy access to information through the File, Pay, Refunds, Credits & Deductions and Forms & Instructions links at the top of every page. Taxpayers can go to View Your Account Information to securely access information about their federal tax account and:
- View the amount they owe,
- Pay online or set up an online payment agreement;
- Access their tax records online;
- Review the past 18 months of payment history;
- View key tax return information for the current year as filed.
Visit IRS.gov/secureaccess to review the required identity authentication process.
Other self-service tools provide help for individuals, businesses and tax professionals:
- The Withholding Calculator can help taxpayers determine if they’re having enough taxes withheld from their paychecks.
- More than 70% of taxpayers qualify for free tax software through IRS Free File. This special service is available only on IRS.gov or through the IRS2Go mobile app. The app allows taxpayers to use a smartphone or tablet to prepare and file their tax returns Taxpayers can also use IRS2go to check their refund status, make a payment or access other helpful tools.
- With major changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the IRS encourages taxpayers seeking more information on tax reform to consult two online resources: Publication 5307, Tax Reform: Basics for Individuals and Families, and Publication 5318, Tax Reform: What’s New for Your Business.
- The IRS Services Guide provides an overview of the many IRS.gov tools available to taxpayers and tax professionals. For fast answers to general tax questions, taxpayers can search the Interactive Tax Assistant, Tax Topics, Frequently Asked Questions, Tax Trails and IRS Tax Map.
- IRS YouTube videos are available on tax topics including extensions, common errors and payment options. This month, the IRS celebrated the 10th anniversary of its YouTube channel launch. During the 10-year period, almost 16 million people viewed user-friendly information in English, Spanish and American Sign Language.
For other tips and resources, visit IRS.gov/taxreform or check out the Get Ready page on IRS.gov. IRS.gov is also mobile-friendly, which allows optimal viewing for those using smart phones or tablets.
All IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers operate by appointment. Customer service representatives are available by calling 844-545-5640, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., to schedule appointments. Before making an appointment, taxpayers should check the hours of operation and services offered at their nearest TAC.
(Click headline to read full story)
Year to date refunds issued are down from 73.4 billion to 71.8 billion, and $212.3 billion to $206.1 billion, a decrease of $6 billion. The average refund has held relatively steady from $2,893 to $2,873.
The Taxpayer First Act, which among its many overhauls will create an independent appeals process for taxpayers with disputes with the IRS, passed in the House on Tuesday, April 9. The bill mandates that the IRS redesign itself with a more efficient agency structure, boosts cybersecurity, eases the IRS’s enforcement tools, and asks for a comprehensive customer service plan. “With a new tax code, it is time for a new tax administrator,” said the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas). The bill now goes to the Senate, and there will be further discussion of the parameters of a provision concerning the Free File Alliance, where tax prep software vendors will offer free tax filing software rather than it being delivered by the IRS.
The good news is that the IRS is developing a new W-4 withholding form that better reflects the new tax laws. However, the process of filling it out could be as complex as filling out your tax forms and might require employers to offer training to complete it. “The accuracy will be 100 percent but the ease-of-use will be zero,” predicts the head of government affairs of payroll and human resources company ADP. A draft version for public comment could roll out on May 31 on the way to a final version being ready in 2020.
One out of every 184 taxpayers experienced an IRS audit in 2017. Nine out of 10 audits end in a change to the tax return.
According to the DOR, the state took in nearly $871 million in tax payments from 219,311 credit card transactions in 2018. While the IRS and other states pass the processing fees on to the payer, South Carolina paid $22 million for the transactions, even after negotiating with vendors for minimal fee rates.