Time-Saving IRS Tax Tools
by Bob Williams
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The IRS has some handy tools to speed up and smooth out the process of doing your taxes.
You can see the full IRS toolbox here, and while there are too many tools to cover at one time, we think that some are especially useful:
- Get a Transcript of Your Tax Records – If you want an exact copy of an already filed tax return, the IRS will charge you $50. But a transcript of your return – basically a printout with the amounts that were on your return – can give you the same information with a lot less hassle. A transcript is usually available for the current year and the past three years. A transcript is free.
- Online Payment Agreement – When you owe taxes but don’t have enough money to pay the bill at one time, what can you do? Ask for an installment payment plan from the IRS.
- Withholding Calculator – Want to know how much to have your employer hold from your paycheck to cover federal income taxes? The calculator lets you try out different scenarios and find one that works best for you.
- Where’s My Refund? – Tells you where your IRS refund is in the process: Processing, Awaiting Payment, or so forth. Check this 24 hours after you’ve e-filed your return, or 4 weeks after you mailed in a paper return.
- Where’s My Amended Return? – Like you'd expect, this tool helps track where your amended return is in the IRS process. Wait 3 weeks after mailing your return before accessing this tool.
- Electronic Filing PIN Request – Get a one-time Personal Identification Number (PIN) from the IRS that proves you are who you are, and allows you to e-file.
- Sales Tax Deduction Calculator – Determine the amount of optional state and local sales tax you can claim on Schedule A of Form 1040.
- Exempt Organizations Select Check – Search for a charity, check a non-profit's tax-exempt status or verify how much of your contribution to a 501(c)(3) organization is tax deductible.
- First-Time Homebuyer Credit Account Lookup – Did you receive the First Time Homebuyer Credit? You can now check the status of your FTHBC online 24/7 for information on your repayments and account balance.
- Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier Tool – When you're financially unable to pay a tax due amount, in some instances the IRS could issue an Offer in Compromise, which lets you pay a fraction of the original amount. Use this tool to determine whether you are eligible to apply for an Offer in Compromise and what an acceptable offer amount might be.
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