Personal Finance

Make it easy This Tool Tells You What You Owe the IRS Before They Come Looking for It

Illustration for article titled This Tool Tells You What You Owe the IRS Before They Come Looking for It

Photo: Sharaf Maksumov (Shutterstock)

If you owe the IRS money, they certainly don’t want you to forget about it. That’s why the agency has ever-so-kindly provided an online tool to help you track your outstanding balance and stay on top of payments, saving you the hassle of relying on a sheaf of old mail to keep track of the details.

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How the IRS payment tool works

Individual taxpayers can view a bunch of information via the IRS’s free tool: your payoff amount (updated daily), your balance for each tax year, five years of payment history, and information from your most recent tax return. If you’re self-employed, you can also see your previous estimated tax payments.

The tool also shows any penalties and interest accrued on top of the amount you owe. (So if you haven’t filed your 2020 taxes yet, you’ll want to grit your teeth and take a look now).

If this is your first time using the tool, you’ll have to register here, and provide contact details that includes your name, birthdate, Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN), tax filing status (single, jointly, head of household), and current address—the process should only take about 15 minutes. For security reasons, the tool uses two-step authentication using text messaging to verify your identity, so you’ll need a phone, too (there’s also a snail-mail option, too). After that’s done, you’ll be asked to set up a username and password, which you’ll use to sign into your account.

Once you have a login, the tool will become your one-stop-shop where you can download your tax transcripts or make a payment the IRS. Note that the tool is not available 24/7: You can only use the “account balance” feature from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET, Monday through Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to midnight ET on Sunday.

If you previously set up an account on the IRS site but haven’t logged in for a while, you might need to re-certify your information by inputting your address, Social Security Number, and financial verification information again.

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This post was originally published in 2016 and was updated on July 1, 2021 to add new information and to reflect current Lifehacker style guidelines.

Source link: lifehacker.com

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