hope you donít have any questions when you try to
figure out your taxes this year.
you need help and try to call the IRS, you will probably
wait on the phone for at least 30 minutes and then fail
to get much of an answer.
IRS has been slashing its costs. In an ironic twist for
people who want to pay less in taxes, the government has
been trying to save money by cutting help for taxpayers.
As a result, taxpayers will be more likely to make
mistakes and potentially pay more in penalties for their
scathing report to Congress this month from the
governmentís Taxpayer Advocate Service says, "We
are deeply concerned that taxpayers are receiving
markedly less assistance from the IRS now than at any
time in recent history." Only half of people
calling the IRS will get their calls answered.
adequate support, many taxpayers will be frustrated,
some will make potentially costly mistakes, and others
will incur higher compliance costs when forced to seek
information and assistance from tax professionals that
the IRS previously provided for free," the report
not merely individuals who arenít getting timely help
on the phone. If you are struggling with a difficult
question and hire a tax preparer, the professional will
also face a long wait on the phone if clarification from
the IRS is needed, according to the report. So that also
will add expenses. Tax preparers often charge for the
time they spend doing your taxes, including the time
spent waiting for the IRS on the telephone.
report notes that more than 100 million taxpayers
attempt to reach the IRS by telephone each year, and the
IRS estimates that it only will be able to answer about
50 percent of the calls. Thatís in contrast to the
best year, 2004, when the IRS answered 87 percent of
calls and wait times were 2.5 minutes.
only has telephone help been scaled way back, but last
year the IRS discontinued a long-time practice of
preparing tax returns for hundreds of thousands of
low-income, elderly and disabled taxpayers who sought
assistance in offices with IRS help.
recent changes, the report said, the IRS only answers
"basic" questions on the telephone. The report
notes that last year the IRS declared "more
complex" questions would be "out of
Taxpayer Advocate Service told Congress that the risk
for the U.S. government could be that people will be
frustrated and simply not do their taxes. Still, the IRS
does inflict harsh penalties on people who donít file
the IRS has cut back telephone help, there are still
clinics in communities where individuals can get help
with tax returns.
offers help to seniors at multiple locations and is
adding new sites where thereís a concentration of
lower-income taxpayers, said Chicago AARP spokeswoman
Heather Heppner. AARP is also expanding hours of service
and days to accommodate a larger number of taxpayers
seeking service and will serve low- to moderate-income
people regardless of their age, she said.
find a site, go to AARP.org/TaxAide or call
888-227-7669. Because sites are opened and closed each
year, check before going to a location youíve visited
previously and make an appointment.
Income Tax Assistance programs also provide help to low-
and moderate-income people, the elderly and disabled,
plus non-English speakers. Other organizations such as
the United Way and volunteers give individuals help
preparing their tax returns. Tax Counseling for the
Elderly cater to people over 60 but will help all
taxpayers; especially with retirement or pension related
questions. Find help here. Review the documents you will
need and make an appointment, or call 800-906-9887.
you can handle a computer, the easiest way to get your
taxes done at home and avoid mistakes is to use the free
tax software offered to people with income less than
$60,000 through irs.gov. See the Free File program here.
People with incomes over $60,000 can make tax
preparation easy on themselves by buying software such
as TurboTax or TaxAct.
Taxpayer Advocate Service was created by Congress to
assist taxpayers having problems with the IRS and offers
clinics for those with disputes on issues such as
audits. Visit www.irs.gov/Advocate/Low-Income-Taxpayer-Clinics
or call 877-777-4778.