We all love to criticize the IRS, don't we? It's easy to ridicule a huge organization of government bureaucrats who often seem to be Public Enemy #1.
Our negative attitude toward the IRS can lead to a strong desire to just ignore it altogether. But
self-employed people who ignore the IRS do so at their own peril.
So when it comes to providing free information about taxes, let's not throw the baby out with the bath water. The IRS does provide some excellent resources to help us make the best of a potentially bad situation.
If you need tax assistance and prefer not to pay for it, do not overlook these five ways to obtain help from the IRS:
1. The Internet
There's a wealth of information just for small business owners and self-employed people at: http://www.irs.gov/smallbiz
Here you'll find everything from how to obtain a federal business tax ID to a free 6-session streaming video presentation of the "IRS Small Business Workshop." Also known as the Small Business Self-Employed Online Classroom, you can access this directly at: www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=97726,00.html
If you prefer to attend an IRS small business workshop in person, check here to see what's available in your state: www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=99202,00.html
Need tax forms and/or their instructions?
Look no further than the IRS website:
Here you'll find a boatload of links to every tax form imaginable, available as downloadable PDF files or in fill-in format. All form instructions can also be downloaded. http://www.irs.gov/formspubs/lists/0,,id=97817,00.html
The IRS has many free publications that explain virtually every major (and many minor) tax topics in great detail. Sure, IRS "pubs" are not always written in the most entertaining style, but, hey, remember the price. http://www.irs.gov/formspubs/lists/0,,id=97819,00.html
2. Telephone Hotlines.
Special toll-free numbers exist for the following:
-- To order forms & pubs: 800-829-3676 (in case you'd like to receive a paper copy via snail-mail)
-- To ask business tax questions: 800-829-4933
-- To ask personal tax questions: 800-829-1040
Use common sense when phoning the IRS: to avoid long wait times, don't call on Monday morning. And no matter when you call, be prepared! Write out your questions beforehand and have all relevant documentation in front of you, as well as a favorite book or magazine to read during the inevitable wait time. Stay calm; don't yell; treat the IRS employee like a human being and he/she will likely return the favor.
-- Need help with long-standing problems: 877-777-4778
-- Prerecorded messages on 140 topics: 800-829-4477
3. TaxFax Service.
You can receive most IRS forms instructions via fax by calling 703-368-9694 from your fax machine.
4. CD-ROM for Small Business.
This is known as "The Small Business Resource Guide CD-ROM", aka Publication 3207. It includes all the tax forms and publications needed to run a small business. Call 800-829-3676 to request a free copy.
5. Walk-In Offices.
Need some face-to-face tax help? For a complete list of IRS offices in all 50 states, including hours of operation and contact info, check out: http://www.irs.gov/localcontacts