Online tax help

The Internal Revenue is offering an array of online services for the 2014 tax season.

Taxpayers have until Tuesday, April 15, 2014, to file their 2013 tax returns and pay any tax due. The IRS expects to receive more than 148 million individual tax returns this year, and more than four out of five returns are now filed electronically.

“Tens of millions of people will file their taxes in the next few weeks, and we encourage taxpayers to visit IRS.gov as the best place to get quick help,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “We continue to add features and make it more user-friendly to help taxpayers. People can get everything from answers to tax questions about preparing their tax return to checking the status of their refund after they file.”

In a YouTube video, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen talked about the online help available for filing.  The EITC Assistant and VITA Site Locator are just two of a growing array of online and automated IRS services that can help taxpayers get the information they need to file their returns and get their refunds quickly.  Aimed at individuals and families who made $51,567 or less last year, the EITC varies by income, family size and filing status. People can see if they qualify by visiting IRS.gov and answering a few questions using the EITC Assistant, a special online tool. Eligible taxpayers can also use another helpful online resource, the VITA Site Locator tool to locate one of nearly 13,000 community-based volunteer tax sites consisting of over 90,000 volunteers that can help them file their return for free.

Tele-Tax, for example, helps taxpayers see if they qualify for various tax benefits, such as the Child Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit for eligible families, the American Opportunity Tax Credit for parents and college students, the saver’s credit for low-and moderate-income workers saving for retirement and energy credits for homeowners making qualifying energy-saving home improvements.

When taxpayers are ready to fill out and file their returns, another online option, available exclusively on IRS.gov, enables anyone to e-file their returns for free. Free File offers two free electronic filing options: brand-name tax software or online Fillable Forms. Taxpayers who make $58,000 or less can choose free options from 14 commercial software providers. There’s no income limit for the second option, Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms, which is best suited to people who are comfortable preparing their own tax return.

Even after taxpayers file, there are more online tools that can provide them with valuable assistance long after tax season ends. One of the most popular is Where’s My Refund?  It’s a tool that enables taxpayers to track the status of their refund. Initial information will normally be available within 24 hours after the IRS receives the taxpayer’s e-filed return or four weeks after the taxpayer mails a paper return to the IRS. The system updates every 24 hours, usually overnight, so there’s no need to check more often.

Another useful year-round tool, the IRS Withholding Calculator, helps employees make sure the amount of income tax taken out of their pay is neither too high nor too low. This tool can be particularly useful to taxpayers who, after filling out their tax returns, find that the refund or balance due was higher than expected.

The IRS also offers more than 100 short instructional videos, tax tips and other useful resources year-round through a variety of social media platforms. They include:

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