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Free tax preparation sites 7. Free tax preparation sites   How To Get Tax Help Table of Contents Low Income Taxpayer Clinics Whether it's help with a tax issue, preparing your tax return or a need for a free publication or form, get the help you need the way you want it: online, use a smart phone, call or walk in to an IRS office or volunteer site near you. Free tax preparation sites Free help with your tax return. Free tax preparation sites   You can get free help preparing your return nationwide from IRS-certified volunteers. Free tax preparation sites The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program helps low-to-moderate income, elderly, people with disabilities, and limited English proficient taxpayers. Free tax preparation sites The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program helps taxpayers age 60 and older with their tax returns. Free tax preparation sites Most VITA and TCE sites offer free electronic filing and all volunteers will let you know about credits and deductions you may be entitled to claim. Free tax preparation sites In addition, some VITA and TCE sites provide taxpayers the opportunity to prepare their own return with help from an IRS-certified volunteer. Free tax preparation sites To find the nearest VITA or TCE site, you can use the VITA Locator Tool on IRS. Free tax preparation sites gov, download the IRS2Go app, or call 1-800-906-9887. Free tax preparation sites   As part of the TCE program, AARP offers the Tax-Aide counseling program. Free tax preparation sites To find the nearest AARP Tax-Aide site, visit AARP's website at www. Free tax preparation sites aarp. Free tax preparation sites org/money/taxaide or call 1-888-227-7669. Free tax preparation sites For more information on these programs, go to IRS. Free tax preparation sites gov and enter “VITA” in the search box. Free tax preparation sites Internet. Free tax preparation sites    IRS. Free tax preparation sites gov and IRS2Go are ready when you are —24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Free tax preparation sites Download the free IRS2Go app from the iTunes app store or from Google Play. Free tax preparation sites Use it to check your refund status, order transcripts of your tax returns or tax account, watch the IRS YouTube channel, get IRS news as soon as it's released to the public, subscribe to filing season updates or daily tax tips, and follow the IRS Twitter news feed, @IRSnews, to get the latest federal tax news, including information about tax law changes and important IRS programs. Free tax preparation sites Check the status of your 2013 refund with the Where's My Refund? application on IRS. Free tax preparation sites gov or download the IRS2Go app and select the Refund Status option. Free tax preparation sites The IRS issues more than 9 out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. Free tax preparation sites Using these applications, you can start checking on the status of your return within 24 hours after we receive your e-filed return or 4 weeks after you mail a paper return. Free tax preparation sites You will also be given a personalized refund date as soon as the IRS processes your tax return and approves your refund. Free tax preparation sites The IRS updates Where's My Refund? every 24 hours, usually overnight, so you only need to check once a day. Free tax preparation sites Use the Interactive Tax Assistant (ITA) to research your tax questions. Free tax preparation sites No need to wait on the phone or stand in line. Free tax preparation sites The ITA is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and provides you with a variety of tax information related to general filing topics, deductions, credits, and income. Free tax preparation sites When you reach the response screen, you can print the entire interview and the final response for your records. Free tax preparation sites New subject areas are added on a regular basis. Free tax preparation sites  Answers not provided through ITA may be found in Tax Trails, one of the Tax Topics on IRS. Free tax preparation sites gov which contain general individual and business tax information or by searching the IRS Tax Map, which includes an international subject index. Free tax preparation sites You can use the IRS Tax Map, to search publications and instructions by topic or keyword. Free tax preparation sites The IRS Tax Map integrates forms and publications into one research tool and provides single-point access to tax law information by subject. Free tax preparation sites When the user searches the IRS Tax Map, they will be provided with links to related content in existing IRS publications, forms and instructions, questions and answers, and Tax Topics. Free tax preparation sites Coming this filing season, you can immediately view and print for free all 5 types of individual federal tax transcripts (tax returns, tax account, record of account, wage and income statement, and certification of non-filing) using Get Transcript. Free tax preparation sites You can also ask the IRS to mail a return or an account transcript to you. Free tax preparation sites Only the mail option is available by choosing the Tax Records option on the IRS2Go app by selecting Mail Transcript on IRS. Free tax preparation sites gov or by calling 1-800-908-9946. Free tax preparation sites Tax return and tax account transcripts are generally available for the current year and the past three years. Free tax preparation sites Determine if you are eligible for the EITC and estimate the amount of the credit with the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Assistant. Free tax preparation sites Visit Understanding Your IRS Notice or Letter to get answers to questions about a notice or letter you received from the IRS. Free tax preparation sites If you received the First Time Homebuyer Credit, you can use the First Time Homebuyer Credit Account Look-up tool for information on your repayments and account balance. Free tax preparation sites Check the status of your amended return using Where's My Amended Return? Go to IRS. Free tax preparation sites gov and enter Where's My Amended Return? in the search box. Free tax preparation sites You can generally expect your amended return to be processed up to 12 weeks from the date we receive it. Free tax preparation sites It can take up to 3 weeks from the date you mailed it to show up in our system. Free tax preparation sites Make a payment using one of several safe and convenient electronic payment options available on IRS. Free tax preparation sites gov. Free tax preparation sites Select the Payment tab on the front page of IRS. Free tax preparation sites gov for more information. Free tax preparation sites Determine if you are eligible and apply for an online payment agreement, if you owe more tax than you can pay today. Free tax preparation sites Figure your income tax withholding with the IRS Withholding Calculator on IRS. Free tax preparation sites gov. Free tax preparation sites Use it if you've had too much or too little withheld, your personal situation has changed, you're starting a new job or you just want to see if you're having the right amount withheld. Free tax preparation sites Determine if you might be subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax by using the Alternative Minimum Tax Assistant on IRS. Free tax preparation sites gov. Free tax preparation sites Request an Electronic Filing PIN by going to IRS. Free tax preparation sites gov and entering Electronic Filing PIN in the search box. Free tax preparation sites Download forms, instructions and publications, including accessible versions for people with disabilities. Free tax preparation sites Locate the nearest Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) using the Office Locator tool on IRS. Free tax preparation sites gov, or choose the Contact Us option on the IRS2Go app and search Local Offices. Free tax preparation sites An employee can answer questions about your tax account or help you set up a payment plan. Free tax preparation sites Before you visit, check the Office Locator on IRS. Free tax preparation sites gov, or Local Offices under Contact Us on IRS2Go to confirm the address, phone number, days and hours of operation, and the services provided. Free tax preparation sites If you have a special need, such as a disability, you can request an appointment. Free tax preparation sites Call the local number listed in the Office Locator, or look in the phone book under United States Government, Internal Revenue Service. Free tax preparation sites Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Free tax preparation sites Go to IRS. Free tax preparation sites gov and enter Apply for an EIN in the search box. Free tax preparation sites Read the Internal Revenue Code, regulations, or other official guidance. Free tax preparation sites Read Internal Revenue Bulletins. Free tax preparation sites Sign up to receive local and national tax news and more by email. Free tax preparation sites Just click on “subscriptions” above the search box on IRS. Free tax preparation sites gov and choose from a variety of options. Free tax preparation sites    Phone. Free tax preparation sites You can call the IRS, or you can carry it in your pocket with the IRS2Go app on your smart phone or tablet. Free tax preparation sites Download the free IRS2Go app from the iTunes app store or from Google Play. Free tax preparation sites Call to locate the nearest volunteer help site, 1-800-906-9887 or you can use the VITA Locator Tool on IRS. Free tax preparation sites gov, or download the IRS2Go app. Free tax preparation sites Low-to-moderate income, elderly, people with disabilities, and limited English proficient taxpayers can get free help with their tax return from the nationwide Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Free tax preparation sites The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program helps taxpayers age 60 and older with their tax returns. Free tax preparation sites Most VITA and TCE sites offer free electronic filing. Free tax preparation sites Some VITA and TCE sites provide IRS-certified volunteers who can help prepare your tax return. Free tax preparation sites Through the TCE program, AARP offers the Tax-Aide counseling program; call 1-888-227-7669 to find the nearest Tax-Aide location. Free tax preparation sites Call the automated Where's My Refund? information hotline to check the status of your 2013 refund 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-829-1954. Free tax preparation sites If you e-file, you can start checking on the status of your return within 24 hours after the IRS receives your tax return or 4 weeks after you've mailed a paper return. Free tax preparation sites The IRS issues more than 9 out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. Free tax preparation sites Where's My Refund? will give you a personalized refund date as soon as the IRS processes your tax return and approves your refund. Free tax preparation sites Before you call this automated hotline, have your 2013 tax return handy so you can enter your social security number, your filing status, and the exact whole dollar amount of your refund. Free tax preparation sites The IRS updates Where's My Refund? every 24 hours, usually overnight, so you only need to check once a day. Free tax preparation sites Note, the above information is for our automated hotline. Free tax preparation sites Our live phone and walk-in assistors can research the status of your refund only if it's been 21 days or more since you filed electronically or more than 6 weeks since you mailed your paper return. Free tax preparation sites Call the Amended Return Hotline, 1-866-464-2050, to check the status of your amended return. Free tax preparation sites You can generally expect your amended return to be processed up to 12 weeks from the date we receive it. Free tax preparation sites It can take up to 3 weeks from the date you mailed it to show up in our system. Free tax preparation sites Call 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676) to order current-year forms, instructions, publications, and prior-year forms and instructions (limited to 5 years). Free tax preparation sites You should receive your order within 10 business days. Free tax preparation sites Call TeleTax, 1-800-829-4477, to listen to pre-recorded messages covering general and business tax information. Free tax preparation sites If, between January and April 15, you still have questions about the Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ (like filing requirements, dependents, credits, Schedule D, pensions and IRAs or self-employment taxes), call 1-800-829-1040. Free tax preparation sites Call using TTY/TDD equipment, 1-800-829-4059 to ask tax questions or order forms and publications. Free tax preparation sites The TTY/TDD telephone number is for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability. Free tax preparation sites These individuals can also contact the IRS through relay services such as the Federal Relay Service. Free tax preparation sites    Walk-in. Free tax preparation sites You can find a selection of forms, publications and services — in-person. Free tax preparation sites Products. Free tax preparation sites You can walk in to some post offices, libraries, and IRS offices to pick up certain forms, instructions, and publications. Free tax preparation sites Some IRS offices, libraries, and city and county government offices have a collection of products available to photocopy from reproducible proofs. Free tax preparation sites Services. Free tax preparation sites You can walk in to your local TAC for face-to-face tax help. Free tax preparation sites An employee can answer questions about your tax account or help you set up a payment plan. Free tax preparation sites Before visiting, use the Office Locator tool on IRS. Free tax preparation sites gov, or choose the Contact Us option on the IRS2Go app and search Local Offices for days and hours of operation, and services provided. Free tax preparation sites    Mail. Free tax preparation sites You can send your order for forms, instructions, and publications to the address below. Free tax preparation sites You should receive a response within 10 business days after your request is received. Free tax preparation sites Internal Revenue Service 1201 N. Free tax preparation sites Mitsubishi Motorway Bloomington, IL 61705-6613    The Taxpayer Advocate Service Is Here to Help You. Free tax preparation sites The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is your voice at the IRS. Free tax preparation sites Our job is to ensure that every taxpayer is treated fairly and that you know and understand your rights. Free tax preparation sites   What can TAS do for you? We can offer you free help with IRS problems that you can't resolve on your own. Free tax preparation sites We know this process can be confusing, but the worst thing you can do is nothing at all! TAS can help if you can't resolve your tax problem and: Your problem is causing financial difficulties for you, your family, or your business. Free tax preparation sites You face (or your business is facing) an immediate threat of adverse action. Free tax preparation sites You've tried repeatedly to contact the IRS but no one has responded, or the IRS hasn't responded by the date promised. Free tax preparation sites   If you qualify for our help, you'll be assigned to one advocate who'll be with you at every turn and will do everything possible to resolve your problem. Free tax preparation sites Here's why we can help: TAS is an independent organization within the IRS. Free tax preparation sites Our advocates know how to work with the IRS. Free tax preparation sites Our services are free and tailored to meet your needs. Free tax preparation sites We have offices in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Free tax preparation sites   How can you reach us? If you think TAS can help you, call your local advocate, whose number is in your local directory and at Taxpayer Advocate, or call us toll-free at 1-877-777-4778. Free tax preparation sites   How else does TAS help taxpayers?  TAS also works to resolve large-scale, systemic problems that affect many taxpayers. Free tax preparation sites If you know of one of these broad issues, please report it to us through our Systemic Advocacy Management System. Free tax preparation sites Low Income Taxpayer Clinics Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) serve individuals whose income is below a certain level and need to resolve tax problems such as audits, appeals and tax collection disputes. Free tax preparation sites Some clinics can provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language. Free tax preparation sites Visit Taxpayer Advocate or see IRS Publication 4134, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List. 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Understanding Tax Return Preparer Credentials

For 2014, any tax professional with an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number is authorized to prepare federal tax returns. Tax professionals, however, have differing levels of skills, education and expertise. There are several different types of return preparers with credentials.

An important difference in the types of practitioners is “representation rights”. Here is guidance on each credential:

UNLIMITED REPRESENTATION RIGHTS: Enrolled agents, certified public accountants, and attorneys have unlimited representation rights before the IRS and may represent their clients on any matters including audits, payment/collection issues, and appeals.

Enrolled Agents – People with this credential are licensed by the IRS and specifically trained in federal tax planning, preparation and representation. Enrolled agents hold the most expansive license IRS grants and must pass a suitability check, as well as a three-part Special Enrollment Examination, a comprehensive exam that covers individual tax, business tax and representation issues. They complete 72 hours of continuing education every 3 years. For more information on enrolled agents, see Publication 4693-A, A Guide to the Enrolled Agent Program.

Certified Public Accountants – People with this credential are licensed by state boards of accountancy, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories, and have passed the Uniform CPA Examination. They also must meet education, experience, and good character requirements established by their boards of accountancy. In addition, CPAs must comply with ethical requirements as well as complete specified levels of continuing education in order to maintain an active CPA license. CPAs can offer a range of services; some CPAs specialize in tax preparation and planning.

Attorneys – People with this credential are licensed by state courts or their designees, such as the state bar. Generally, requirements include completion of a degree in law, passage of an ethics and bar exam and on-going continuing education. Attorneys can offer a range of services; some attorneys specialize in tax preparation and planning.

LIMITED REPRESENTATION RIGHTS: Preparers without any of the above credentials (also known as “unenrolled preparers”) have limited practice rights and may only represent clients whose returns they prepared and signed and only at the initial audit level.

NOTE: Registered Tax Return Preparers – Certain preparers became RTRPs under an IRS program that IRS is no longer able to enforce due to a District Court injunction. RTRPs passed an IRS competency test on Form 1040 tax preparation.

REMINDER: Everyone described above must have an IRS issued preparer tax identification number (PTIN) in order to legally prepare your tax return for compensation. Make certain your preparer has one and enters it on your return filed with the IRS. They are not required to enter it on the copy they provide you.

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 10-Feb-2014

The Free Tax Preparation Sites

Free tax preparation sites 1. Free tax preparation sites   403(b) Plan Basics Table of Contents What Is a 403(b) Plan? What Are the Benefits of Contributing to a 403(b) Plan?Excluded. Free tax preparation sites Deducted. Free tax preparation sites Who Can Participate in a 403(b) Plan?Ministers. Free tax preparation sites Who Can Set Up a 403(b) Account? How Can Contributions Be Made to My 403(b) Account? Do I Report Contributions on My Tax Return? How Much Can Be Contributed to My 403(b) Account? This chapter introduces you to 403(b) plans and accounts. Free tax preparation sites Specifically, the chapter answers the following questions. Free tax preparation sites What is a 403(b) plan? What are the benefits of contributing to a 403(b) plan? Who can participate in a 403(b) plan? Who can set up a 403(b) account? How can contributions be made to my 403(b) account? Do I report contributions on my tax return? How much can be contributed to my 403(b) account? What Is a 403(b) Plan? A 403(b) plan, also known as a tax-sheltered annuity (TSA) plan, is a retirement plan for certain employees of public schools, employees of certain tax-exempt organizations, and certain ministers. Free tax preparation sites Individual accounts in a 403(b) plan can be any of the following types. Free tax preparation sites An annuity contract, which is a contract provided through an insurance company, A custodial account, which is an account invested in mutual funds, or A retirement income account set up for church employees. Free tax preparation sites Generally, retirement income accounts can invest in either annuities or mutual funds. Free tax preparation sites We use the term “403(b) account” to refer to any one of these funding arrangements throughout this publication, unless otherwise specified. Free tax preparation sites What Are the Benefits of Contributing to a 403(b) Plan?  There are three benefits to contributing to a 403(b) plan. Free tax preparation sites The first benefit is that you do not pay income tax on allowable contributions until you begin making withdrawals from the plan, usually after you retire. Free tax preparation sites Allowable contributions to a 403(b) plan are either excluded or deducted from your income. Free tax preparation sites However, if your contributions are made to a Roth contribution program, this benefit does not apply. Free tax preparation sites Instead, you pay income tax on the contributions to the plan but distributions from the plan (if certain requirements are met) are tax free. Free tax preparation sites Note. Free tax preparation sites Generally, employees must pay social security and Medicare tax on their contributions to a 403(b) plan, including those made under a salary reduction agreement. Free tax preparation sites See chapter 4, Limit on Elective Deferrals , for more information. Free tax preparation sites The second benefit is that earnings and gains on amounts in your 403(b) account are not taxed until you withdraw them. Free tax preparation sites Earnings and gains on amounts in a Roth contribution program are not taxed if your withdrawals are qualified distributions. Free tax preparation sites Otherwise, they are taxed when you withdraw them. Free tax preparation sites The third benefit is that you may be eligible to take a credit for elective deferrals contributed to your 403(b) account. Free tax preparation sites See chapter 10, Retirement Savings Contributions Credit (Saver's Credit) . Free tax preparation sites Excluded. Free tax preparation sites   If an amount is excluded from your income, it is not included in your total wages on your Form W-2. Free tax preparation sites This means that you do not report the excluded amount on your tax return. Free tax preparation sites Deducted. Free tax preparation sites   If an amount is deducted from your income, it is included with your other wages on your Form W-2. Free tax preparation sites You report this amount on your tax return, but you are allowed to subtract it when figuring the amount of income on which you must pay tax. Free tax preparation sites Who Can Participate in a 403(b) Plan? Any eligible employee can participate in a 403(b) plan. Free tax preparation sites Eligible employees. Free tax preparation sites   The following employees are eligible to participate in a 403(b) plan. Free tax preparation sites Employees of tax-exempt organizations established under section 501(c)(3). Free tax preparation sites These organizations are usually referred to as section 501(c)(3) organizations or simply 501(c)(3) organizations. Free tax preparation sites Employees of public school systems who are involved in the day-to-day operations of a school. Free tax preparation sites Employees of cooperative hospital service organizations. Free tax preparation sites Civilian faculty and staff of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Free tax preparation sites Employees of public school systems organized by Indian tribal governments. Free tax preparation sites Certain ministers (explained next). Free tax preparation sites Ministers. Free tax preparation sites   The following ministers are eligible employees for whom a 403(b) account can be established. Free tax preparation sites Ministers employed by section 501(c)(3) organizations. Free tax preparation sites Self-employed ministers. Free tax preparation sites A self-employed minister is treated as employed by a tax-exempt organization that is a qualified employer. Free tax preparation sites Ministers (chaplains) who meet both of the following requirements. Free tax preparation sites They are employed by organizations that are not section 501(c)(3) organizations. Free tax preparation sites They function as ministers in their day-to-day professional responsibilities with their employers. Free tax preparation sites   Throughout this publication, the term chaplain will be used to mean ministers described in the third category in the list above. Free tax preparation sites Example. Free tax preparation sites A minister employed as a chaplain by a state-run prison and a chaplain in the United States Armed Forces are eligible employees because their employers are not section 501(c)(3) organizations and they are employed as ministers. Free tax preparation sites Who Can Set Up a 403(b) Account? You cannot set up your own 403(b) account. Free tax preparation sites Only employers can set up 403(b) accounts. Free tax preparation sites A self-employed minister cannot set up a 403(b) account for his or her benefit. Free tax preparation sites If you are a self-employed minister, only the organization (denomination) with which you are associated can set up an account for your benefit. Free tax preparation sites How Can Contributions Be Made to My 403(b) Account? Generally, only your employer can make contributions to your 403(b) account. Free tax preparation sites However, some plans will allow you to make after-tax contributions (defined below). Free tax preparation sites The following types of contributions can be made to 403(b) accounts. Free tax preparation sites Elective deferrals . Free tax preparation sites These are contributions made under a salary reduction agreement. Free tax preparation sites This agreement allows your employer to withhold money from your paycheck to be contributed directly into a 403(b) account for your benefit. Free tax preparation sites Except for Roth contributions, you do not pay income tax on these contributions until you withdraw them from the account. Free tax preparation sites If your contributions are Roth contributions, you pay taxes on your contributions but any qualified distributions from your Roth account are tax free. Free tax preparation sites Nonelective contributions . Free tax preparation sites These are employer contributions that are not made under a salary reduction agreement. Free tax preparation sites Nonelective contributions include matching contributions, discretionary contributions, and mandatory contributions from your employer. Free tax preparation sites You do not pay income tax on these contributions until you withdraw them from the account. Free tax preparation sites After-tax contributions . Free tax preparation sites These are contributions (that are not Roth contributions) you make with funds that you must include in income on your tax return. Free tax preparation sites A salary payment on which income tax has been withheld is a source of these contributions. Free tax preparation sites If your plan allows you to make after-tax contributions, they are not excluded from income and you cannot deduct them on your tax return. Free tax preparation sites A combination of any of the three contribution types listed above. Free tax preparation sites Self-employed minister. Free tax preparation sites   If you are a self-employed minister, you are considered both an employee and an employer, and you can contribute to a retirement income account for your own benefit. Free tax preparation sites Do I Report Contributions on My Tax Return? Generally, you do not report contributions to your 403(b) account (except Roth contributions) on your tax return. Free tax preparation sites Your employer will report contributions on your 2013 Form W-2. Free tax preparation sites Elective deferrals will be shown in box 12 and the Retirement plan box will be checked in box 13. Free tax preparation sites If you are a self-employed minister or chaplain, see the discussions next. Free tax preparation sites Self-employed ministers. Free tax preparation sites   If you are a self-employed minister, you must report the total contributions as a deduction on your tax return. Free tax preparation sites Deduct your contributions on line 28 of the 2013 Form 1040. Free tax preparation sites Chaplains. Free tax preparation sites   If you are a chaplain and your employer does not exclude contributions made to your 403(b) account from your earned income, you may be able to take a deduction for those contributions on your tax return. Free tax preparation sites    However, if your employer has agreed to exclude the contributions from your earned income, you will not be allowed a deduction on your tax return. Free tax preparation sites   If you can take a deduction, include your contributions on line 36 of the 2013 Form 1040. Free tax preparation sites Enter the amount of your deduction and write “403(b)” on the dotted line next to line 36. Free tax preparation sites How Much Can Be Contributed to My 403(b) Account? There are limits on the amount of contributions that can be made to your 403(b) account each year. Free tax preparation sites If contributions made to your 403(b) account are more than these contribution limits, penalties may apply. Free tax preparation sites Chapters 2 through 6 provide information on how to determine the amount that can be contributed to your 403(b) account. Free tax preparation sites Worksheets are provided in Chapter 9 to help you determine the maximum amount that can be contributed to your 403(b) account each year. Free tax preparation sites Chapter 7, Excess Contributions , describes how to prevent excess contributions and how to get an excess contribution corrected. Free tax preparation sites Prev  Up  Next   Home   More Online Publications