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How to Get Help From the IRS

        Money | Taxes

In-person and online services abound when it comes to getting help with your taxes.
In-person and online services abound when it comes to getting help with your taxes.
Monkey Business Images Ltd./Monkey Business/Thinkstock

In a lot of ways, the IRS is like Santa Claus. Hear me out on this. One day a year they have to take care of everyone in the United States at once. If you're on their nice list, you get a present in the form of a fat refund, and if you're on their naughty list, they send you to prison. OK, the analogy isn't perfect, but if you put enough accountants in elf costumes, Washington, D.C., would still look an awful lot like Santa's workshop.

The point is that the IRS isn't as scary as they might seem, and they do go to great lengths to help people file their taxes properly. Below are several places to go if you want free help straight from the horse's mouth.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA): If you make less than $53,000 a year, you're eligible to get help from volunteers who can help you pay your income tax for free. There's even have a site where you can search for VITA counseling centers near you.

Withholding calculator: If you're an employee with a W-4, the IRS offers a withholding calculator to make sure you're getting the right amount of federal income tax deducted from your pay. This is especially beneficial for those who have income outside of wages and want to have additional taxes withheld.

Electronic filing: How did people ever deal with filing on paper? The Electronic Federal Tax Payment System allows you to file and pay taxes online, review them to make sure your payments are accurate and keep track of your payment history. They even let you file over the phone if you don't have Internet access.

Set up an installment plan: If you owe $50,000 or less and can't make your tax payments, things aren't hopeless. The IRS offers way to split your tax liability into installments via the Online Payment Agreement Application.

Taxpayer Advocate Service: Maybe you don't even want help from the IRS. Maybe you're looking for a fight. Even if you feel you're being treated unfairly, the IRS has you covered. The Taxpayer Advocate Service is an independent organization that helps taxpayers and businesses in dispute with the IRS, who have tax problems that can't be fixed through the IRS itself or who are facing serious financial difficulties.