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How to File Your Federal Taxes

Taxes are due on April 15, 2020. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changed many forms, credits, and deductions. Check this page carefully before filing your federal income tax return.

Do I Need to File a Tax Return?

You may not have to file a federal income tax return if your income is below a certain amount. But, you must file a tax return to claim a refundable tax credit or a refund for withheld income tax. Find out if you have to file a tax return.

File a Federal Income Tax Return

In order to file your taxes, you'll need a few things. First you'll need to know how much money you made. Then you'll need to decide whether to take the standard deduction or itemize your return. Finally, you'll need to submit everything by April 15.

Steps to File a Tax Return

  1. Gather your paperwork, including:

  2. Choose your filing status. Filing status is based on whether you're married. The percentage you pay toward household expenses also affects your filing status.

  3. Decide how you want to file your taxes. The IRS recommends using tax preparation software to e-file for the easiest and most accurate returns.

  4. Determine if you are taking the standard deduction or itemizing your return. The new tax law increased the standard deduction but eliminated some other types of deductions.

  5. If you owe money, learn how to make a tax payment, including applying for a payment plan.

  6. File your taxes by April 15.

Find out how to check the status of your tax refund.

Contact the IRS for Tax Help

For the fastest information, the IRS recommends finding answers to your questions online. You can also call the IRS. This option works best for less complex questions. Keep in mind that wait times to speak with a representative may be long.

IRS Mailing Addresses

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides mailing addresses for:

  • Tax returns

  • Non-return forms

  • Applications

  • Payments

The correct mailing address to use depends on the purpose of contact and the region of the country you are in:

You can also check a tax form's corresponding instructions for a mailing address.

Tax Filing Deadlines

The deadline to file federal taxes for most taxpayers is April 15, 2020, unless you file for an extension.

Federal and state taxes usually have the same filing deadlines. To make sure you file on time, find out the tax filing due dates in your state. If you do not file and pay your taxes on time, you will be charged interest and a late payment penalty. For taxpayers due a refund, there is no penalty for filing a late return.

Extension to File Your Tax Return

If you can’t file your federal income tax return by the due date, you may be able to get a six-month extension from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This does not grant you more time to pay your taxes.

How to File an Extension

  1. Fill out IRS Form 4868, the “Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.” 

  2. On the form, use the instructions for estimating the taxes you owe. Include your payment to avoid paying penalties and interest.

  3. You typically must file the extension form and your estimated payment by April 15 or by the due date of your fiscal year return. 

For a Spanish version of this form, download IRS Form 4868(SP).

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Last Updated: January 3, 2020

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