The Internal Revenue Service has many different methods of providing answers to those hard tax questions that inevitably pop up during the filing process. A wealth of tax help and information can be found online. The multi-media center at irs.gov provides access to training tools and informational videos, and allows you to sign up for RSS feeds which give tax updates on a regular basis. You can follow the IRS on Twitter, and download tax-related podcasts on iTunes. There is even a smartphone app, IRS2Go, that allows you to interact with the IRS and get tax updates and check your refund status.
Keep in mind that the IRS uses these tools to share information with you—but doesn’t want you to reciprocate. Do not post any confidential information on new or social media sites, especially your Social Security number. And remember: The IRS will not be able to answer personal tax or account questions through any of these services.
To find links to all of IRS’s social media tools, visit www.irs.gov and click on “Social Media.”
Also on the IRS website you will find:
The Interactive Tax Assistant: provides answers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you find yourself working on your tax return over the weekend, there’s no need to wait to get a form or an answer to a question. On the IRS home page under tools is a link to the Interactive Tax Assistant. This is a tax law resource that takes you through a series of questions and provides you with responses to tax law questions.
Check the status of your tax refund: If you don’t have a smartphone, go to the IRS homepage and under “filing and payment” is a button “where’s my refund.” Whether you chose direct deposit or asked the IRS to mail you a check, you can check the status of your refund. You will need to know your Social Security number, your filing status, and the exact amount of your refund in order to get the information.
Make payments electronically: You can authorize an electronic funds withdrawal, use a credit or debit card, or enroll in the U.S. Treasury’s Electronic Federal Tax Payment System to pay your federal taxes. Electronic payment options are a convenient, safe and secure way to pay taxes. Simply click on the button marked “EFTPS” on the right hand side of the IRS’ home page.
Find out if you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit: The EITC is a tax credit available for many people who earned less than $49,000 in 2011. Find out if you are eligible by answering some questions and providing basic income information using the EITC Assistant.
Request a payment agreement: Paying your taxes in full and on time avoids unnecessary penalties and interest. However, if you cannot pay your balance in full you may be eligible to use the Online Payment Agreement Application to request an installment agreement. Get it here.
Get information about the latest tax law changes: Tax laws change frequesntly, so learn about tax law changes that may affect your tax return. Special sections of the website highlight changes that affect individual or business taxpayers. Click on “News” on the left side of the IRS’ home page.
Remember, the address of the official IRS website is www.irs.gov. Don't be confused by Internet sites that end in .com, .net, .org or other designations instead of .gov. And remember, the IRS will never email you. Forward all bogus email scams to email@example.com.
Bonnie Lee is an Enrolled Agent admitted to practice and representing taxpayers in all fifty states at all levels within the Internal Revenue Service. She is the owner of Taxpertise in Sonoma, CA and the author of Entrepreneur Press book, “Taxpertise, The Complete Book of Dirty Little Secrets and Hidden Deductions for Small Business that the IRS Doesn't Want You to Know.” Follow Bonnie Lee on Twitter at BLTaxpertise and at Facebook.