Free Information and Help from the IRS


Gregory S. DuPont Nov. 13, 2019

You have the right to information and assistance in complying with the U.S. tax laws. In addition to the basic instructions provided with tax forms, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) makes a great deal of other information available.

Taxpayer PublicationsThe IRS publishes over 100 free taxpayer information publications on various subjects. One of these, Publication 910, "Guide to Free Tax Services," is a catalog of the free services and publications offered by the IRS. You can order all publications and any tax forms or instructions you need by calling the IRS toll-free at 1-800-TAX-FORM (829-3676). These forms and publications are also available online at

Other AssistanceThe IRS also provides walk-in tax help at many offices, and recorded telephone information on many topics through their Tele-Tax system. The toll-free telephone number for the IRS Tele-Tax system nearest you can be obtained by calling the national toll-free service directory at 800-555-1212. The IRS also has informational videotapes that you may borrow. In addition, you may want to attend one of their education programs for specific groups of taxpayers, such as farmers or small business owners. Or, you can go online and visit which can provide you with additional information.

Copies of Tax ReturnsIf you need a copy of your tax return for an earlier year, you can get one by filling out Form 4506, "Request for Copy of Tax Form," and paying a small fee. However, you often only need certain information such as the amount of your reported income, the number of your exemptions, and the tax shown on the return. You can receive this information free if you write or visit an IRS office or call the toll-free number for your area.

Fair Collection of TaxWhenever you owe tax, the IRS will send you a bill describing the tax and stating the amounts you owe in tax, interest, and penalties. Be sure to check any bill you receive to make sure it is correct. You have the right to have your bill adjusted if it is incorrect, so you should inform the IRS as soon as possible concerning any errors.

If the IRS notifies you that a tax is due because of a math or clerical error on your return, you have the right to ask them to send you a formal notice (a "Notice of Deficiency") so that you can dispute the tax. You do not have to pay the additional tax at the same time you ask for the formal notice--if you ask for it within 60 days of the time the IRS informs you of the error.

If the tax is correct, the IRS will give you a specific period of time to pay the bill in full. If you pay the bill within the time allowed, the IRS will not have to take any further action.

Tax Payment ArrangementsYou should make every effort to pay your bill in full. If you cannot, you should pay as much as you can and contact the IRS immediately. They may ask you for a complete financial statement to determine how you can pay the amount due. Based on your financial condition, you may qualify for an installment agreement. If the IRS approves a payment agreement, it will stay in effect only if:

  1. You give correct and complete financial information;

  2. You pay each installment on time;

  3. You satisfy other tax liabilities on time;

  4. You provide current financial information when asked;

  5. The IRS determines that collecting the tax is not a risk.

Following a review of your current finances, the IRS may change your payment agreement. They will notify you 30 days before any change to your payment agreement and tell you why they are making the change.

The IRS will not take any enforcement action (such as recording a tax lien or levying on or seizing property) until after they have tried to contact you and given you the chance to voluntarily pay any tax due. Therefore, it is very important for you to respond right away by mail, telephone, or a personal visit, to their attempts to contact you. If you do not respond immediately, they will have no choice but to begin enforcement.