Help for Taxpayers | Congressman Ami Bera

Help for Taxpayers

This tax season, I know many families are sitting around their kitchen tables and are trying to figure out how to make ends meet. This can be a stressful time, which is why my office is here to help you however we can.

Please refer to this page to see how we can serve you and learn about helpful resources available to area taxpayers, many of which are free. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact my office at (916) 635-0505.

 





How We Can Help You: Recover Stalled Refunds And More

My office is here to help you cut through bureaucratic red tape. That includes helping you with IRS tax issues like delayed refunds.

For example, we helped Steve, a local doctor who lives in Sacramento. Last year Steve filed his taxes in March, well ahead of the filing deadline, and was owed a substantial refund.

But two months later Steve was stonewalled. The IRS told him they wouldn’t process his tax return until he provided a proof of identity, multiple past tax returns, and even more supporting documents. The IRS also told him that he had to go to the regional IRS building for an in-person interview. As a doctor Steve is regularly called into surgery on short notice to help his patients, so he couldn’t take a day off.

That’s when Steve contacted my office, and my staff got to work. We followed up with the IRS and helped resolve the situation so the IRS could send Steve his refund.

If you think you may need help, please visit my How I Can Help page to learn more or call my office at (916) 635-0505.

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Know Your Rights

All taxpayers are entitled to certain rights. For instance, no one who is employed by the IRS may discriminate against you because of your race or gender. And if you think the IRS has incorrectly determined how much money you owe, you also have the right to appeal the decision. The IRS has a Taxpayer Bill of Rights that you can refer to learn more.

Please click here to learn more about your rights as a taxpayer.

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Need In-Person Assistance?

If you need personal assistance with your taxes and don’t know where to turn, please call the independent Taxpayer Advocate Service for further help. They’re here to answer your questions and connect you with the resources you may need. They also help people who may be enduring financial hardships related to their taxes.

Below is how to contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service in the Sacramento area:

Taxpayer Advocate Service
Phone: (916) 974-5007
4330 Watt Ave.
Stop SA-5043
Sacramento, CA 95821

You can learn more about the Taxpayer Advocate and find other offices here: www.irs.gov/advocate

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Get An Extension

This year, the IRS filing deadline is April 17th, 2018. But as you know, sometimes unexpected circumstances can make it harder for some taxpayers to meet the yearly deadline.

If you’re unable to file your taxes by April 17th this year, you have the option of filing for an extension. The IRS provides a few different ways in which you can apply for an extension, both electronically and through a paper application. To learn more, please click on the link below.

You can click here to learn more about how to get an extension on the IRS website.

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File For Free!

With the IRS Free File initiative, many local taxpayers have the option to prepare and file their taxes for free. According to the IRS, you may be eligible to file your taxes for free with easy-to-use software if your 2017 Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) was $66,000 or less. Free fillable forms may also be an option if your AGI was above $66,000. In March 2017, the IRS estimated that the Free File program has saved American taxpayers more than $1.5 billion in filing costs.

Please click here to learn more on the IRS website: www.irs.gov/freefile

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Free Tax Preparation Help

Qualifying taxpayers may also be eligible to receive free tax preparation help from the IRS. A couple of different programs are available:

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA):

One free, IRS-supported tax preparation service called the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, or VITA, provides certified volunteers to help you file your return. According to the IRS, VITA provides free tax help generally to people who earn $54,000 a year or less, or to people who may have disabilities or have limited fluency in English.

Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE):

There’s also the free Tax Counseling for the Elderly program, or TCE. This initiative is available to all taxpayers, but it focuses on helping people who are 60 years old or older navigate tax filing problems that older Americans commonly face such as pension related questions.

Please click here to learn more and to find a VITA or TCE location near you.

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Find Out the Status of Your Tax Refund

Many families rely on their yearly tax refunds as a crucial source of income. According to the IRS, most refunds are issued in about three weeks or less, but delays are always possible.

If you’ve already filed your taxes and are interested in learning more about the status of your refund, the IRS website has a feature called “Where’s my Refund” that you may use to get more information.

Please click here to visit the Where’s My Refund page to learn more.

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Obtain A Past Year’s Refund

Many folks don’t realize it, but you generally have up three years to claim a refund. This could be an opportunity for families to recover some of their hard-earned money.

Each year, the IRS reports many taxpayers lose out on their hard-earned money simply because they didn’t file. For instance, in 2017, the IRS said that about a million taxpayers were in jeopardy of losing nearly $1 billion dollars if they didn’t file in time.

Please click here to learn more and see how you may be able to claim your hard-earned money.

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Beware of Scammers!

Every year, criminals use tax season as a time to steal personal information and money from hardworking Americans.

According to the IRS, sometimes scammers will fraudulently use the IRS logo to steal from you. The IRS reports some scammers will make threatening phone calls to try and intimidate people and steal private financial information. Many of these criminals often target senior citizens.

Please be especially careful this time of year! The IRS reports they will *not* initiate contact with taxpayers via email, text messaging, or through social media accounts.

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Get Old Returns And W-2s

Many taxpayers need access to a variety of documents to file their taxes. Two of the most common documents are past tax returns or a W-2.

Past tax returns: Sometimes you may need a past tax return for your records or to complete another financial transaction like a mortgage. If you need this information you may ask the IRS for a transcript of your return, which is available for free and usually has the information most people need. You may also request a copy of the actual return itself for a fee.

Click here for more information.

Past W-2s: For many Americans, receiving your W-2 in the mail is oftentimes the first step you take towards filing your taxes. Usually the surest way to get a W-2 from a prior year is by asking your employer. However, you may also contact the IRS to order a transcript of your earnings or a copy of your entire return (which includes your W-2) for a fee if needed.

Click here for more information.

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Tax Help for Seniors

Senior citizens often face many distinct challenges when filing their taxes. Questions about pensions or whether Social Security is taxable are common questions for older taxpayers.

The IRS has compiled an online tax guide to help seniors answer these questions and to file their taxes. It also has more information about the Tax Counseling for the Elderly program that offers free tax help for people who need it.

Please click here to read the IRS Tax Guide for Seniors on their website.
Please click here to download the PDF book version (better for printing).

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