Skip to main content

How to file your federal income tax return

Learn the steps to file your federal taxes and how to contact the IRS if you need help.

Steps to file your federal tax return

  1. You will need the forms and receipts that show the money you earned and the tax-deductible expenses you paid. These include:

    • A W-2 form from each employer
    • Other earning and interest statements (1099 and 1099-INT forms)
    • Receipts for charitable donations; mortgage interest; state and local taxes; medical and business expenses; and other tax-deductible expenses if you are itemizing your return
  2. Choose your filing status. Filing status is based on whether you are married. The percentage you pay toward household expenses also affects your filing status.

  3. Decide how you want to file your taxes. 

  4. Determine if you are taking the standard deduction or itemizing your return.

  5. If you owe money, learn how to make a tax payment online, including applying for a payment plan. Or find out how to pay taxes by check or money order and where to send it.

  6. Submit your return by the filing deadline.

Check the status of your tax refund.

Contact the IRS for help filing your tax return

For the fastest information, the IRS recommends finding answers to your questions online.

If you cannot find the answer to your question using the IRS website, find out how to call the IRS or visit a local Taxpayer Assistance Center office in person.

The IRS does not accept tax-related questions by email.

LAST UPDATED: May 17, 2024


Have a question?

Ask a real person any government-related question for free. They will get you the answer or let you know where to find it.