IRS News Release  
March 31, 1993

What Taxpayers Want to Know

WASHINGTON - Heading into home stretch for the 1993 tax filing season, the Internal Revenue Service expects to get about six million calls for help between now and the April 15 deadline.

The heavy volume will mean busy signals for some callers. "We want to help as many people as we can. The best time to get through to IRS assistors is before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m.," said Deborah Decker, IRS Assistant Commissioner for Taxpayers Services. "You should also try Tele-Tax, our recorded information service featuring about 140 subjects."

At this time of the year, many taxpayers have similar questions, so here are answers to the most commonly asked ones:

Q1: Where can I get tax forms?
A1: It may be too late to call for forms and receive them in time, but they are available at local IRS offices. Many banks, post offices and libraries also stock common tax forms. Some libraries also have a reference set of forms available for photocopying.

Q2: How much can I earn and still get the Earned Income Credit?
A2: If you had a child living with you and your 1992 income was under $22,370, you may qualify. Check Schedule EIC and its instructions for details.

Q3: How long will it take to get my refund?
A3: If you are filing this late in the season, you may wait up to six or eight weeks for your refund -- unless you file your return electronically. Electronic filers usually get their refunds within three weeks of filing. If you have already filed and you want to check on your refund, you can call toll-free IRS Tele-Tax number -- 1-800-829-4477 -- several weeks after you file.

Q4: I owe more tax, but I can't pay it -- what should I do?
A4: Pay as much as you can with your return, to reduce interest and penalty charges. Ask IRS for an installment plan to pay off your balance by attaching Form 9465 to the front of your return. File by April 15 to avoid the late filing penalty, which is 5 percent per month of unpaid tax.

Q5: Do I have to pay tax on my unemployment compensation?
A5: Yes, unemployment compensation is fully taxable. There's a special line for reporting this income on the tax forms.

Q6: Instead of getting a refund, this year I owe tax -- how can I prevent this form happening again next year?
A6: Give your employer a new W-4, withholding Allowance Certificate. Either claim fewer allowances or put on line 6 an extra amount that you want withheld from each paycheck. If you are self-employed or have other income not subject to withholding, adjust your quarterly estimated tax payments.

Q7: How much can I contribute to my individual retirement arrangement (IRA)?
A7: You have until April 15 to make contributions for the 1992 tax year. Any worker may put up to $2,000 of earnings into an IRA each year. But not everyone can deduct the full contribution. Use the worksheets in the tax instructions to figure your exact deduction amount.
If neither you nor your spouse are covered by a pension plan where you work, or if your income is under $25,000 -- $40,000 if you file jointly with your spouse -- you can deduct you whole IRA contribution. If you're covered by a pension plan, you'll have a limited IRA deduction until your income reaches $35,000 -- $50,000 for joint returns. Above those figures, you cannot deduct any IRA amounts.

Q8: Do I have to file a tax return if my income was low?
A8: Perhaps not. The tax instructions have charts explaining the various filing requirements. If your income is below the amount listed for your situation, you shouldn't file, unless you are claiming the Earned Income Credit or a refund of tax withheld. There are special rules for persons over age 65 as well as those who can be claimed as dependents of another taxpayer, so be careful to use the proper chart.

Q9: Where do I send my federal tax return?
A9: Send it to the Internal Revenue Service Center covering your residence, even if you work elsewhere. Use the following chart to find the proper city. No street address is needed.

(Ed. notes : Check IRS instructions for this info.)

Although these are among the questions that the IRS most frequently faces in the final weeks of the filing season, you might have others. If the tax instructions don't answer them, try Tele-Tax -- the instruction book gives you the number to call and has a list of available topics. If you still have questions after listening to the recorded message, call the live assistance number for help.

As of March 26, the IRS had received 57.5 million returns, 7.4 percent fewer than at this time last year. The IRS has sent $38.2 billion in refunds to about 39.2 million taxpayers. Last week's average refund of $910 was 2 percent below the average for the fourth week of March 1992. The average for all refunds this year is $976, up just $3 from the same period last year.

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