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How Much Do I Owe the IRS? 4 Ways to Find Out

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No one wants to owe the Internal Revenue Service. Ideally, you’d pay the exact right amount of income taxes and be on your way without a second thought. Or maybe you’d just end up with a surprising but welcome tax refund once you file. But that’s not always what happens.

Sometimes, an unexpected amount of back taxes can pile up. You may know you have a federal tax balance but still wonder, “How much do I owe the IRS?” Don’t wait for those scary IRS notices to find out. We can help you figure it out, using one of four easy methods.

Use the IRS Online Portal

1. Log Into Your IRS Online Account

Back in Dec. 2016, the IRS released an online tool for taxpayers. This tool acts as a portal for you to view your account with the IRS. You’ll be able to see your payoff amount and the balance for each tax year that you owe. You can also view up to 5 years of payment history, including estimated tax payments. Your account balance will update no more than once every 24 hours and usually overnight. It’s completely free; all you need to do is register to access your account.

When registering, you’ll need provide specific information, including:

  • Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)
  • Date of birth
  • Filing status
  • Mailing address from your last tax return
  • An email address
  • A mobile phone
  • An account number from a financial account, which could be:
    • Credit Card
    • Student Loan
    • Mortgage or Home Equity Loan
    • Home Equity Line of Credit
    • Auto Loan

This information is meant to verify your identity, but it can be a pain to gather.

The IRS will also pull a credit report with this information to ensure you are who you say you are. But this is a soft inquiry, so it won’t impact your credit score and lenders won’t be able to see it.

If you decide to register and use the online portal, you can also use it to pay your taxes online. Payments made online typically appear on your account within one to four days. If you pay by check or money order, however, it can take up to three weeks.

Call the IRS

2. Pick Up The Phone And Call The IRS

Not a big fan of using online tools to deal with your federal taxes? Don’t have all the info you need to access the online service? Don’t worry, you’ve got other options.

Your first option is to give the IRS a call. You may have to deal with a wait time, but once you’re connected, a representative from the IRS should be able to tell you how much you owe.

Our suggestion: Call as early in the day as possible to prevent longer hold times.

If you’re an individual taxpayer looking into your balance, you can call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 between 7:00 a.m. and 7 p.m. local time.

Representing a business? Call 1-800-829-4933 between 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. local time.

Mail the IRS a form

3. Fill Out a Form And Drop It in The Mail

Another option outside of the online portal is to contact the IRS by sending a form through snail mail.

While this is a viable option for any taxpayer, keep in mind that it will take much longer due to the nature of mail. And if you do owe, penalties and interest will continue to accrue while you wait for a response.

You’ll also want to make sure the IRS has your current address. If they don’t, they’ll send their response (and any other notices) to the most recent address they have on file, which may not be your current one.

Individual taxpayers who filed a Form 1040 can request an Account Transcript by mail or call 800-908-9946. Transcripts are available for the current and three prior tax years.

If you filed another type of form or need a transcript for a later tax year, you’ll need to submit Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return. Once the IRS receives and processes your 4506-T form, they will send you a free transcript.

Contact a tax debt relief professional

4. Speak to a Tax Debt Professional

The last option may be the easiest and most hands-free answer to the question, “How much do I owe the IRS?” No need for an online portal, a phone call, or a form in the mail. Instead, you can have someone do that leg work for you.

Tax debt professionals (like CPAs, tax attorneys, and EAs) can work with the IRS on your behalf to find out exactly how much you owe. All you’ll need to do is give them a few personal details and kick back while they deal with the IRS for you. And once they find out how much you owe, they can also offer you customized solutions to help you pay off the debt and stay out of trouble.

What to Do If You Owe The IRS But Can’t Pay

Once you figure out how much you owe the IRS, your next step is to figure out what to do about it.

If you have money in your bank account to cover your balance, it’s as easy as just paying your bill.

But what do you do if you can’t pay the IRS?

The IRS isn’t blind to this problem. They offer solutions for cases like this, which include an installment agreement and Offer in Compromise. Not everyone qualifies for each solution though, so it’s important to find an available option that can offer you some relief.

If you went with the tax debt relief expert route, they’ll be able to walk you through the options available to you and what they would suggest for your unique situation. Our tax pros will even do the heavy lifting to set up a tax resolution that works for you, whether it be a payment plan or an appeal.

If you need back taxes help, reach out for assistance before things escalate. Liens and garnishment loom on the horizon until you take action to deal with your tax liability. Don’t wait. Take action today!

How Much Do I Owe the IRS: Infographic