The government collects taxes to pay its bills and provide public goods and services. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the nation's tax collection agency.
The taxes you owe to the government are generally paid through withholding (money taken out of your paycheck), estimated tax payments, and payments made with tax forms that you file with the government. April 15 of each year is usually the due date for filing your federal individual income tax return for the previous calendar year.
Many people file a return even though their income is below the filing requirement. Check if you need to file an income tax return with the IRS.
File Your Taxes
Over 100 million people filed their taxes electronically last year. Electronic filing (e-file) makes filing your taxes easier, reduces the risk of error, and you’ll receive your refund faster. The IRS can help you find an authorized e-file provider in your area.
You can also file your federal tax return by mail. You can print forms and publications from the IRS website or find them at your local library. Before mailing them in, make sure to double check your math for errors. Visit the IRS for a list of the most common tax forms and instruction booklets for each form. The IRS has information about which form to use: the 1040-EZ, 1040A, or 1040.
Deadline to File and Requesting an Extension
April 15, 2013 is the due date for filing your federal individual income tax return for the 2012 calendar year. For other deadlines, review Publication 509 Tax Calendar (PDF).
If you cannot file by the deadline, you need to request an extension. There are electronic and paper options available to file an extension. Download the form and learn more about your options.
Check Your Refund
If you pay more money than you owe, the government will issue you a tax refund. If you expect a refund, visit Where's My Refund? to track it.
You can check on the status of your refund 72 hours after you e-file. If you filed a paper return, please allow 3 weeks before checking on the status.
Free Tax Help
There are a number of ways to find free tax help. The IRS has trained volunteers and tax counseling programs. Find out if you qualify for tax counseling.
For detailed information on tax help, download the 2012 IRS Guide to Free Tax Services (PDF).
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State and Local Taxes
State and local taxes come from transaction taxes, such as sales tax; income taxes, the money withheld from your paycheck; and property taxes from homeowners. The type and amount of tax varies from state to state and between local communities.
Visit your state's website to learn more about filing requirements, options, forms, and deadlines. Some states allow you to e-file both your federal and state taxes at once. Learn more about federal and state e-file options.
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