Get the Most Out of the I.R.S. Site

Confronting your taxes each year can be nerve-wracking. Every tax season American taxpayers wrangle with a host of tax credits, new payment laws, and individual state caveats. Many people end up utterly confused, especially with detail oriented work like small business taxes or shifts between single and married status.

The IRS has a new “user-friendly” site up and running, which makes finding answers to your questions slightly easier. To make answers much easier, here is a guide to the new website, divided into sections based on the most common questions and concerns.

Not Sure Where to Start?

The Homepage: The newly designed homepage of the IRS site is a good place to start if you are not sure what you are looking for. Run through the headlines and major links to see if you can find an immediate link to your answer.

Hot Topics: This section provides a few links to the current popular items on the website. These are frequently time-sensitive. For example, if a law suddenly shifts or a deadline is approaching, you can visit this section to find out what the IRS has to say.

Help and Resources: This section contains a list of contacts for certain topics. So if you need to talk with a live person and have a specific issue to discuss, start here for the right numbers.

Tax Forms and Publications

Forms and Pubs: Here is the center for all the forms you could want to find. Pick through the frequent downloads first, then start using the IRS searches.

The Tax Map: While not technically part of the IRS site, this IRS-run “map” is actually a complete database of forms and topics where you can search for something very, very specific.

Filing Taxes

Filing Options: If you are on the IRS website, you probably already know your filing options. But this page lays out the e-filing capabilities for you and provides the two major e-filing links you need to use.

Extension of Time to File: This topic pages shows how you can get an extension. More links would be helpful, but the main link to the PDF form is useful, and you can find electronic options easily enough.

Need to Make a Payment

Make a Payment: Pay attention to the first column, where card, e-check, and electronic transfer options are listed. Click on the links and be prepared with your taxpayer information.

Alternative Payment Options: If money is tight, this page shows you how to create a payment plan with the IRS, or settle for a compromise in more dire situations.

Tax Credits and Savings

Earned Income Credit: This incredibly common credit for low-income workers has its own page, filled with useful information and links. If you are looking for the popular First-Time Homebuyer Credit, you can find its page here.

Credits and Deductions for Individuals: These categories are excellent for searching for deductions or credit programs.

Credits and Deductions for Businesses: This business version is an ideal resources for small business owners. Each section is worth review.

Where Is My Refund?

Refund Checking: The IRS actually has a “Where’s My Refund” portal that lets you check your refund status whenever you want. Use if three weeks have passed and you still have no refund.

Direct Deposit Refunds: If you want a quick refund, this page shows you how to make sure the IRS deposits it directly into your bank account.

Tax Fraud

Report Phishing: Use this page to find out more about phishing emails and report them to the IRS. The IRS does not use email or social media to request any type of personal information, ever. Read the chart to learn about scam phone calls, faxes, and other issues.

Identity Protection: Identity theft is a growing concern, and it can affect your taxes. This page offers key links to answer your questions and show you ways to protect your information.

Latest News

News and Events: This section collects the latest IRS news in one place, showing information on interest rates, tax relief for specific segments of the population, and statistics.

Multimedia Center: From videos and podcasts to the presence of the IRS in social media, this page lets you connect with the organization on multiple levels and access much of their information in web-based formats.

Professionals

For Tax Pros: Learn more about how the IRS provides information for accountants and financial workers in this section. Find IRS tools, lookup advisory board information, and continue your education to acquire various types of tax certification.

Learn More About Tax Management:

Bloomberg BNA: Tax & Accounting

Small Businesses Taxes & Management

Turbotax: Tax Calculators and Tips