Do I Owe the IRS? How to Find Out If and How Much You Owe

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When tax season rolls around, everyone is curious: do I owe the IRS? Not everyone is lucky enough to receive a tax return.

The pure fact of not knowing how much you’ll be owing by April 15th is enough to add stress to your life. Or maybe you simply want to know so you can start saving. You might even owe a tax debt and want to figure out how much you owe.

Whatever your reason is, figuring out just how much you owe can be confusing. But, there are a few steps you can take to estimate how much you might have to pay the IRS.

For a complete guide to finding out how much you owe, keep reading.

How Do I Know If I Owe the IRS?

When calculating your tax liability, a representative or online tool will be able to answer this for you. Based on the calculation, you will be able to see if you owe money or if you’ll receive a return. If you suspect that you owe a tax debt for a previous year, using online tools or contacting the IRS can help you determine how much you owe.

Do I Owe the IRS? Documents Needed Before You Find Out

First and foremost, you need to make sure you have all your information in order. This will help you, your representative, or an IRS agent locate your tax information for the year.

Social Security Number

If you don’t have your social security number memorized, make sure you have your social security card handy. This acts as an identification number to find your tax information.

Tax Filing Status

Make sure you are aware of your tax filing status prior to calculating your taxes. Which filing status you qualify for will determine your tax rate as well as the standard deduction amount you are eligible for.

Here is a list of different tax filing statuses:

  • Single: if you are single or divorced and do not qualify for another filing status, file as single.
  • Married, Filing Jointly: if you were married by December 31st the previous year and no one else is claiming you as a dependent on their tax return, you can file as married, filing jointly
  • Married, Filing Separately: if you were married by December 31st the previous year and someone is claiming you or your spouse as a dependent on their tax return, file as married, filing separately. You can also use this filing status if you are separated or simply want to keep your taxes separate.
  • Head of Household: if you were unmarried by December 31st the previous year, paid more than half the cost to upkeep a home, had a dependent parent, or had a qualifying dependent live with you, you can file as head of household.
  • Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child: if your spouse died in the previous year, you can file as married filing jointly. Every tax return after that year, up to two years after, can be filed as a qualifying widower with dependent child. You may not use this filing status if you remarry within that two-year window.

You can also use the IRS Filing Status tool. It’s a small quiz used to determine your filing status.

Consult a Tax Professional

Not sure where to start? Contact our office if you've got questions about your situation.

Identity Verification

When using the online tool to calculate your estimated tax liability, the IRS uses a three-step identity verification. If you choose to calculate your taxes online, you’ll need this information.

After receiving your identification information, like your social security number, name, and birthdate, the IRS will use financial account numbers to verify your identity.

Here is a list of applicable accounts via the IRS website:

  • Credit Card
  • Student Loan
  • Mortgage or Home Equity Loan
  • Home Equity Line of Credit
  • Auto Loan

The IRS will use the numbers of these accounts or partial digits of credit card numbers. Make sure you have these handy beforehand.

The third verification step is a text message. Make sure you have a US-based phone number and the ability to receive text messages.

Other Information Needed

The other information needed is more or less common sense. You’ll need your full name, current address, an e-mail you have access to (they’ll send you a code if you use the online method), and birthdate.

How to Find Out How Much I Owe the IRS

There are a few ways you can check how much you might owe to the IRS come tax season. Between online tools and local IRS resources, you should be able to determine your tax liability quickly.

IRS Online Tool

If you’ve already filed your tax return, you can view how much you owe using this tool. On this page, you can create an account or log in to view your tax account. This will also tell you how much you owe, if any, from previous tax returns.

You can also use an online calculator to estimate your tax liability.

Visit a Local IRS Office

If you don’t have access to a computer, a local IRS office can also help you determine your tax liability after filing your taxes. However, if you suspect you have a past due balance, it may be beneficial for you to hire a tax attorney to represent you.

Check IRS Balance: Request a “Record of Account”

By filling out and sending Form 4506-T to the IRS, you can obtain a Record of Account and Account Transcripts for previous years. This can help you determine whether or not you owe a debt to the IRS. Once you know how much you owe, if anything, you can hire tax professionals or work out a payment plan with the IRS.

Don’t Let Tax Season Stress You Out

Whether you owe money this year, have tax debt, or simply want to know how much you might owe, don’t let your tax liability stress you out. There are always options available to you to make paying your taxes less overwhelming. Figuring out how much you owe is the first step to freedom.

So, stop asking “Do I Owe the IRS?” and start taking action!

If you suspect you owe a tax debt, contacting a tax professional can be a huge support during a tough tax season. They may even be able to help you reduce your debt.

Managing Partner of Silver Tax Group, author of the book “Stop the IRS”. Practicing a variety of tax issues, regulations, laws and rights. Specializing exclusively on tax matters involving IRS audits, negotiation, settlements & compromises.

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