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4 Ways to Check If You Owe the IRS
August 19, 2020

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4 Ways to Check If You Owe the IRS

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) expects you to file and pay your taxes on time each year. And everyone knows that if you don’t do it properly, you put yourself at risk of steep fines, penalties, and collection activities. But then, you are left thinking: “How will I know if I owe taxes?”

Some people only find out when they receive notices from the IRS for unpaid debt. As you can guess, it’s not recommended to wait until that happens. If you haven’t found the answer to “how to find out how much I owe the IRS,” read on. This guide explains all the ways you can figure it out.

4 Ways to Check If You Owe the IRS

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Method 1. Use the IRS E-Services

The IRS launched an online application that assists taxpayers about three years ago. With the availability of self-service interactions, users can check what they owe the IRS from their own computers or mobile devices. Here, you can view the IRS account balance as well as any additional information regarding your taxes.

The service shows up to 24 months of payment history. However, bear in mind that the balance updates once every 24 hours and usually overnight, so you may not always get the most recent information.

There are two other catches to using this tool: it’s not available 24/7, and you need to go through a verification process. The times when you can access the IRS online tool are Monday 6:00 a.m. to Saturday 9:00 p.m. ET and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to midnight ET.

To register, you’ll need to have this information ready:

  • Email address
  • Social Security Number or Individual Tax Identification Number
  • Tax filing status and mailing address
  • Mobile phone linked to your name
  • One financial account number linked to your name (credit card, student loan, mortgage or home equity loan, home equity line of credit, or auto loan)

Using the IRS e-services gives you many perks other than checking what you owe. Once you are verified in the portal, you can use it to pay your taxes online, see your payment history, tax records, and key information from your most recent tax return.

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Method 2. Call the IRS

If you prefer the conventional way of contacting your authorities, you can ask the question of do I owe the IRS directly through the IRS phone assistance. It will take some time, but it’s still one of the quicker ways to find out.

The main IRS phone number for individual taxpayers is 800-829-1040. You can call them at any time between 7:00 a.m. and 7 p.m. local time Monday through Friday. If you’re representing a business, call at 1-800-829-4933 instead.

The average wait time is about 27 minutes during the post-filing season. We suggest calling earlier in the day because you might get connected faster. But once you reach a representative, the process shouldn’t take long. Also, the load tends to be lower on Fridays.

We also get questions like “how to know if I owe taxes if I’m an overseas taxpayer”. International individuals and businesses can contact the call center Monday through Friday, from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. ET at 267-941-1000 (not toll-free).

Method 3. Fill Out a Form and Send It Through the Mail

Here is what you should do to find out if you owe taxes through the U.S. Postal Service. Obviously, this method takes more time, but it’s still a viable option for any taxpayer. Just keep in mind that interest will continue to accrue daily on any amount not paid, including on both penalties and interest.

You can request an Account Transcript if you filed a Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ. As a business, you can request a Transcript of Tax Return if you submitted a Form 4506-T. Post office hours will depend on your location. So, you should check when it opens, the time it closes, and the services offered based on where you are.

You will receive a transcript covering a single tax year, so some additional charges may be left out. This means if you’re wondering how to find out if I owe back taxes for previous years, you should seek another way.

Here are a few simple mailing tips:

  • Check the IRS website and send to the correct address;
  • Make sure the IRS has your current address because that is where they’ll send a response;
  • Apply the right amount of postage.

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Method 4. Consult Tax Debt Relief Professionals

If you don’t know how to check if you owe the IRS money, but you want to make it hassle-free, get professional help. This way, you won’t need to use the online portal, make phone calls, or send a form in the mail. A specialist will be working on your behalf and get all the information you need from the IRS. Although they’re not free, they do that leg work for you.

What to Do After You Find Out

Let’s say you’ve decided on a method to check if you owe taxes. What you should do now is act quickly. You don’t want to be on the bad side of the IRS. A problem worth a few thousand dollars can quickly become tens of thousands of dollars if you don’t do anything.

Below are possible consequences of not paying the debt owed:

  • Taxes and penalties: The IRS can charge you for not paying your balance, other penalties, etc., on a monthly basis until the tax owed is paid in full. This definitely takes a toll on your finances and affect your ability to pay other taxes in the future.
  • Wage garnishment: The agency can seize part of your wages each pay period until you make other arrangements to pay your overdue taxes or the full amount is paid.
  • Losing a legal right to your property: The IRS doesn’t immediately levy your property or assets, but it’s a possibility. But in severe cases, an IRS levy can assert a secured claim against your assets and permit the legal seizure of your property to satisfy a tax debt.
  • Guaranteed damage to your report: Taxes in and of themselves don’t impact your personal credit score. However, this information will be shown in public records. This will affect your eligibility for loans, mortgage, or anything that will require you to seek financing from lenders.

If you check the balance owed to the IRS, don’t underestimate the financial consequences. Tax collectors have a toolbox of techniques to extract money from you. We share this not to intimidate you but to help you avoid any trouble.

To Summarize

Hopefully, if you were wondering “how do I tell if I owe federal taxes”, you are now equipped to address it. We also want to point out that learning how to find out if you owe the IRS is just one step. After that, you need to make the payment to avoid any frustrations that come with tax debts.

We at DebtQuest USA always recommended you to pay your taxes on time and be financially responsible. But in some cases, people aren’t in the position to pay what they owe immediately. We know that dealing with debt is not easy and offer a solution. Reach out for assistance before the debt storm comes your way, and we’ll help you get your finances back on track.

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