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Publication 721

How To Get Tax Help(p27)

If you have questions about a tax issue, need help preparing your tax return, or want to download free publications, forms, or instructions, go to and find resources that can help you right away.

Preparing and filing your tax return.(p27)

Find free options to prepare and file your return on or in your local community if you qualify.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and limited-English-speaking taxpayers who need help preparing their own tax returns. The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program offers free tax help for all taxpayers, particularly those who are 60 years of age and older. TCE volunteers specialize in answering questions about pensions and retirement-related issues unique to seniors.
Getting answers to your tax law questions. On, get answers to your tax questions anytime, anywhere.
  • Go to for a variety of tools that will help you with your taxes.
  • Enter "ITA" in the search box on for the Interactive Tax Assistant, a tool that will ask you questions on a number of tax law topics and provide answers. You can print the entire interview and the final response.
  • Enter "Pub 17" in the search box on to get Pub. 17, Your Federal Income Tax for Individuals, which features details on tax-saving opportunities, 2015 tax changes, and thousands of interactive links to help you find answers to your questions.
  • Additionally, you may be able to access tax law information in your electronic filing software.

Tax forms and publications.(p28)

You can download or print all of the forms and publications you may need on Otherwise, you can go to to place an order and have forms mailed to you. You should receive your order within 10 business days.

Direct Deposit.(p28)

The fastest way to receive a tax refund is by combining direct deposit and IRS e-file. Direct deposit securely and electronically transfers your refund directly into your financial account. Eight in 10 taxpayers use direct deposit to receive their refund. The majority of refunds are received within 21 days or less.

Getting a transcript or copy of a return.(p28)


Using online tools to help prepare your return.(p28)

Go to and click on the Tools bar to use these and other self-service options.
For help with the alternative minimum tax, go to

Understanding identity theft issues.(p28)


Checking on the status of a refund.(p28)


Making a tax payment.(p28)

The IRS uses the latest encryption technology so electronic payments are safe and secure. You can make electronic payments online, by phone, or from a mobile device. Paying electronically is quick, easy, and faster than mailing in a check or money order. Go to to make a payment using any of the following options.
IRS2Go provides access to mobile-friendly payment options like IRS Direct Pay, offering you a free, secure way to pay directly from your bank account. You can also make debit or credit card payments through an approved payment processor. Simply download IRS2Go from Google Play, the Apple App Store, or the Amazon Appstore, and make your payments anytime, anywhere.

What if I can’t pay now?(p29)

Click on the "Pay Your Tax Bill" icon on for more information about these additional options.

Checking the status of an amended return.(p29)

Go to and click on the Tools tab and then Where’s My Amended Return?

Understanding an IRS notice or letter.(p29)

Enter "Understanding your notice" in the search box on to find additional information about your IRS notice or letter.

Visiting the IRS.(p29)

Locate the nearest Taxpayer Assistance Center using the Office Locator tool on Enter "office locator" in the search box. Or choose the "Contact Us" option on the IRS2Go app and search Local Offices. Before you visit, use the Locator tool to check hours and services available.

Watching IRS videos.(p29)

The IRS Video portal contains video and audio presentations for individuals, small businesses, and tax professionals. You’ll find video clips of tax topics, archived versions of panel discussions and Webinars, and audio archives of tax practitioner phone forums.

Getting tax information in other languages.(p29)

For taxpayers whose native language is not English, we have the following resources available.
  1. Taxpayers can find information on in the following languages.
    1. Spanish.
    2. Chinese.
    3. Vietnamese.
    4. Korean.
    5. Russian.
  2. The IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers provide over-the-phone interpreter service in over 170 languages, and the service is available free to taxpayers.

The Taxpayer Advocate Service Is Here To Help You(p29)


What is the Taxpayer Advocate Service?(p29)

The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent organization within the Internal Revenue Service that helps taxpayers and protects taxpayer rights. Our job is to ensure that every taxpayer is treated fairly and that you know and understand your rights under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

What Can the Taxpayer Advocate Service Do For You?(p29)

We can help you resolve problems that you can’t resolve with the IRS. And our service is free. If you qualify for our assistance, you will be assigned to one advocate who will work with you throughout the process and will do everything possible to resolve your issue. TAS can help you if:

How Can You Reach Us?(p29)

We have offices in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Your local advocate’s number is in your local directory and at You can also call us at 1-877-777-4778.

How Can You Learn About Your Taxpayer Rights?(p29)

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights describes ten basic rights that all taxpayers have when dealing with the IRS. Our Tax Toolkit at can help you understand what these rights mean to you and how they apply. These are your rights. Know them. Use them.

How Else Does the Taxpayer Advocate Service Help Taxpayers?(p29)

TAS works to resolve large-scale problems that affect many taxpayers. If you know of one of these broad issues, please report it to us at

Low Income Taxpayer Clinics(p29)

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. Some clinics can provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language. To find a clinic near you, visit or see IRS Publication 4134, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List.
PencilWorksheet A. Simplified Method
See the instructions in Part II of this publication under Simplified Method.
1.Enter the total pension or annuity payments received this year. Also, add this amount to the total for Form 1040, line 16a; Form 1040A, line 12a; or Form 1040NR, line 17a 1.
2.Enter your cost in the plan at the annuity starting date, plus any death benefit exclusion*. See Your cost in Part II, Rules for Retirees, earlier 2.
Note: If your annuity starting date was before this year and you completed this worksheet last year, skip line 3 and enter the amount from line 4 of last year's worksheet on line 4 below (even if the amount of your pension or annuity has changed). Otherwise, go to line 3. 
3.Enter the appropriate number from Table 1 below. But if your annuity starting date was after 1997 and the payments are for your life and that of your beneficiary, enter the appropriate number from Table 2 below. 3.
4.Divide line 2 by the number on line 34.
5.Multiply line 4 by the number of months for which this year's payments were made. If your annuity starting date was before 1987, enter this amount on line 8 below and skip lines 6, 7, 10, and 11. Otherwise, go to line 6 5.
6.Enter any amounts previously recovered tax free in years after 1986. This is the amount shown on line 10 of your worksheet for last year 6.
7.Subtract line 6 from line 27.
8.Enter the smaller of line 5 or line 7 8.
9.Taxable amount for year. Subtract line 8 from line 1. Enter the result, but not less than zero. Also, add this amount to the total for Form 1040, line 16b, or Form 1040A, line 12b. If you are a nonresident alien, enter this amount on line 1 of Worksheet C. If your Form CSA 1099R or Form CSF 1099R shows a larger amount, use the amount figured on this line instead. If you are a retired public safety officer, see Distributions Used To Pay Insurance Premiums for Public Safety Officers in Part II before entering an amount on your tax return or Worksheet C, line 1 9.
10.Was your annuity starting date before 1987?
box Yes. stop Don't complete the rest of this worksheet.

box No. Add lines 6 and 8. This is the amount you have recovered tax free through 2015. You will need this number if you need to fill out this worksheet next year
11.Balance of cost to be recovered. Subtract line 10 from line 2. If zero, you will not have to complete this worksheet next year. The payments you receive next year will generally be fully taxable 11.
Table 1 for Line 3 Above
 IF your age on your annuity
starting date was
 AND your annuity starting date was—
  before November 19, 1996,
THEN enter on line 3
after November 18, 1996,
THEN enter on line 3
 55 or under300360
 71 or over120160

Table 2 for Line 3 Above
 IF the annuitants' combined ages on your annuity starting date were THEN enter on line 3    
 110 or under 410   
 111–120 360   
 121–130 310   
 131–140 260   
 141 or over 210   
* A death benefit exclusion of up to $5,000 applied to certain benefits received by survivors of employees who died before August 21, 1996.
PencilWorksheet B. Lump-Sum Payment
See the instructions in Part II of this publication under Alternative Annuity Option.

Enter your lump-sum credit (your cost in the plan at the annuity starting date)1.
2.Enter the present value of your annuity contract2.
3.Divide line 1 by line 23.
4.Tax-free amount. Multiply line 1 by line 3. (Caution: Don't include this amount on line 6 of Worksheet A in this publication.) 4.
5.Taxable amount (net cost in the plan). Subtract line 4 from line 1. Include this amount in the total on Form 1040, line 16b; Form 1040A, line 12b; or Form 1040NR, line 17b. Also, enter this amount on line 2 of Worksheet A in this publication. 5.