tax tips, IRS — March 13, 2017

IRS Tax Tools You’ll Definitely Want to Know About

by Susannah McQuitty

A laptop open to and a cup of coffee siting on a patio table.

If you’re convinced the IRS is out to get you, we’re here with good news: They’re actually on your side when it comes to filing your taxes. has plenty of awesome tax tools to speed up and smooth out the filing process.

We’ve picked out a few of our favorite IRS tax resources, specifically for filing prep, credits and deductions, trouble paying taxes, and checking on your refund status.

Before you file

Tax Records Transcript –You have to know your prior-year AGI (for this season, your 2015 AGI) to file your taxes online, so if you don’t have a copy of last year’s tax return, you can get your AGI amount and other key information by requesting a transcript. This free printout is usually available for the current year and the past three years. Keep in mind, though, that an actual copy of a filed tax return will cost $50.

A girl files her taxes on the tax filing app.

Credits and deductions

Exempt Organizations Select Check – Most non-profits will clearly identify themselves as qualified tax-deductible organizations, meaning that you can deduct the funds you donated to them. However, if you want to double check, this site allows you to confirm a charity’s official 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. Also, you can verify how much of your contribution is tax deductible.

First-Time Homebuyer Credit Account Look-up – If you qualified for and received the First-Time Homebuyer Credit (FTHBC), here’s where you can come to check the status of your FTHBC. The lookup page is online and available 24/7 for information on your repayments and account balance.

Sales Tax Deduction Calculator – If your state and local sales tax is higher than your state and local income tax, you can deduct those sales taxes on your federal return. This deduction is especially more common in states that don’t have a state income tax. You’ll have to itemize your deductions on Schedule A to claim the sales tax deduction; if you file with, we’ll calculate whether itemizing for the sales tax deduction or claiming the standard deduction will save you the most money. The Sales Tax Deduction Calculator can help you determine if you might qualify and how much money you can deduct.

Trouble paying up

Online Payment Agreement – This is a useful tool if your taxes hit pretty hard this year and you can’t pay everything you owe on one check. If you owe less than $50,000 in combined tax, penalties and interest, you can apply as an individual for an installment payment plan from the IRS.

Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier – Now, if you simply cannot pay the amount required for your taxes, the IRS might be able to issue an offer in compromise to let 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.

An iPad open to, ready to file your taxes.

After you file

Where’s My Refund? – And here you are, all said and done, with money on the way. But just how “on the way” is it? The “Where’s My Refund?” tracker tells you the status of your refund: Processing, Awaiting Payment, or so forth. Check “Where’s My Refund?” 24 hours after you’ve e-filed your return or four weeks after you mailed in a paper return. This tool is updated once a day, so keep that in mind when checking on your refund status.

These tax tools are only scratching the surface of the free tax resources out there, so do some exploring! And don’t forget about one of the most popular free tax calculators available, the Tax Refund Calculator. Quickly estimate your tax refund on our website, or with our mobile app available in the App Store and Google Play store. You can check out and our Tax Guide for more information on tax tools, savings, requirements, and general know-how.




Sign up for more of this.

Subscribe to our blog for year–round finance strategies and tax tips. We’re here to remove the dread from filing taxes.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Please complete the reCaptcha.

It’s not too good to be true. See what others are saying.