How to Set Up Your Online Account with the IRS

March 28, 2024 by Robin Scott-Hutchens, EA
Account Setup

In a world where it seems like everything can be done online, it is no wonder the IRS has opened this door as well. People do their banking, pay their bills, and share photos of their most recent dinner outing online. You can buy a car online, sell your vintage baseball card collection online, and do your taxes online. Why not have an account online that lets you communicate with the IRS securely, too? You might be sitting there thinking “Why on earth would I want to communicate with the IRS? Isn’t it better if my interactions with them are minimal at best? And won’t this be super complicated, like doing my taxes?” Let’s address those concerns, one by one.
 

Why would I want to communicate with the IRS?


It is true that most people think of the IRS as the tax man coming to extract some money from them. Let us consider that, though. Let’s say you have an unexpected change to your income during the year – maybe you received that big bonus at work, hit the progressive jackpot at the casino, or finally sold that bitcoin you’ve been sitting on since 2015. These events may cause your taxable income to be higher than you normally expect, and you may wind up with a tax bill that is larger than what you can comfortably pay in one lump sum. This is a great opportunity to use your IRS account to set up an installment agreement so that you can make payments on that tax bill over time. You can also sign in and check on the remaining balance as time goes by. Or, instead of waiting until tax time to learn how much tax you will owe, you can sign in during the year and make estimated payments to avoid owing when you file your return.

Your IRS online account is also a place you can visit to request copies of transcripts – all kinds of transcripts. For example, you can use the IRS website to get a transcript of previously filed tax returns. If you are one of those folks who do not always save a copy of your tax return, or have moved so many times you cannot pinpoint which box in storage might hold those copies, a Tax Return Transcript may provide you with what you seek. If you are applying for financing of some sort, this transcript will prove that you filed your return as well as show what your reported taxable income was for a particular year or years. Generally, you can request these dating back for several years, if needed. Or let us consider that part-time job you had two years ago; the one you worked over the summer at that pop-up shop in the mall. You wake up in the middle of the night suddenly realizing you did not include it on that 2022 tax return. Even if your attempts to contact the employer have been unsuccessful, you can still request a Wage and Income Transcript for that year to find the W-2 information you seek. Now you can amend your return! And let us revisit that earlier scenario where you won that big jackpot and now you are making payments to cover that tax bill. If your installment plan stretches out for months or years, you will find that the IRS will be happy to apply next year’s refund to the balance. Or maybe you have been making payments for a few months and the IRS grabbed that $900 refund to apply to the balance due and you are just trying to keep track of it all. You can pull an Account Transcript to see the activity of taxes being assessed, potential refunds being applied, and payments that have been recorded. Finally, should you ever find yourself with a letter from the IRS asking for more information about your tax return, you may be able to use your account to upload records and documents to help answer their questions. You may have heard the stories of the IRS being backlogged, with piles of papers on every surface of your local IRS office, all waiting to be reviewed. Imagine if, instead of having your documents added to those piles, you could instantly upload them and have the confidence to know that they have received your documents. The system allows you to have a digital record of the date and time that you uploaded your items.

So, communication with the IRS might be to your benefit. An online account with the IRS can help keep you informed and provide information you might not be able to find elsewhere.
 

Isn’t minimal contact with the IRS the main goal?


Well, yes. Just like your dentist (who I am sure is a very nice person), you do not want to have to interact with the IRS more than absolutely necessary. But sometimes, it is necessary, and an online account can be a means to handle a variety of issues without the nerve-wracking thought of speaking to an examiner directly.
 

Won’t this be complicated, just like my taxes?


Maybe not. Creating your account starts with a simple trip to the IRS website at www.irs.gov and clicking the option to “Sign in to Your Account.” On the next page, under the “Sign in to online account,” you will see a link that says, “New to online account? Get started.” Go ahead and click this and begin following the prompts to create a new account.

You will need to make sure you have a few things with you when you start this process. To get through it all, you will need:

 

  • An email address
  • A smartphone with a working camera
  • A government-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license or a passport
  • Patience

You will be asked to provide and confirm your email address. Then you will need to provide a password that you can remember. You will also be asked to use your phone to take a photo of your ID and upload this through a text sent to that smartphone. You can also use your phone’s camera to scan your face or schedule a live online session with someone. The point of the last part is to compare your photo ID with your live facial features to make sure that you are the person requesting this account. It is all in the name of safety and protecting your personal information and identity. Once those things are confirmed, your account will be established online. Now you can use this account for all the things previously mentioned.

Best of luck!

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Robin Scott-Hutchens, EA
Corporate Trainer

 

Robin Scott-Hutchens is an Enrolled Agent who has worked in the tax industry for over a decade.   She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting.  Her love of taxes has led her to prepare taxes with large corporations as well as private practice.  She joined TaxAudit in 2016 as an Audit Representative where she enjoyed working with taxpayers to help them navigate the stressful landscape of being audited.  She then moved to the Learning and Development Team at TaxAudit, where she now serves as a Corporate Trainer.  When she is not preparing tax returns or teaching tax concepts, she enjoys reading and writing about taxes, being outdoors, and petting any dog that will allow her to do so.


 

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