Get official answers to your tax questions

Pencil on income tax form

You can find out anything you need to know about your federal taxes by contacting the Internal Revenue Service:

On the Internet: has instructions and information on every tax topic, publication and form. You can research questions, order forms and publications, view IRS bulletins and use interactive tools for making certain calculations.

By phone: Call 1-800-829-1040, or 1-800-829-4059 if you're hearing impaired. Lines are open from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. local time (Alaska and Hawaii follow Pacific time).

But if you're going to call, be prepared to wait.

According to the National Taxpayer Advocate's annual report, the IRS is swamped and hasn't been able to keep up with the demand for information about new stimulus-related tax credits and deductions. The IRS expects wait times will average 12 minutes and only 70% of people who call remain on hold long enough to talk to an agent.

In person: The IRS Web site will also help you locate the IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center nearest you.

The one thing the IRS won't do is sit down and fill out your forms for you. But there are a number of IRS-sponsored programs that will help you prepare and file your taxes at no charge.

Here's how to contact those free tax preparation programs.

Here's more advice on how to find the best way to prepare your taxes -- the one that allows you to file as cheaply and easily as possible without missing any money-saving deductions or credits.

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