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As part of my US personal tax return to the IRS this year I need to fill out some esoteric IRS forms that are not supported by most personal tax filing software so I have to fill them out manually, and I'm making use of the sister Instructions documents that the IRS makes available with every form.

However I've run into questions I have as some fields in some forms are unclear and/or hard to understand how to answer correctly and the Instructions documents do not provide any clarity (for example, form 5471 Schedule O has a field "Internal Service Center where filed" which I don't know how to answer as I mail my return to a non-service-center IRS PO box, not a service-center (I cannot use e-file as I am not a Tax Professional with access to e-file, and Individual e-file does not support form 5471, for example).

I called the IRS's phone number and after navigating their phone menu I received a prerecorded message informing me that they no-longer provide help with filing out forms on the phone.

So the only other option I can think of is to visit my local IRS office for a Face-to-Face meeting, but that seems excessive when I only need help with a few fields.

I'd like to stick to free, first-party forms of assistance. As a matter of principle I don't believe I should have any pay any expenses (beyond postage costs) to file my tax return.

  • Regarding how to fill out the Internal Service Center where filed box" I believe they want to know where each shareholder filed their 1040 which is based on their state of residence and is given on this table irs.gov/uac/… – mhoran_psprep Feb 24 '15 at 11:21
  • You can call 211 (the information line for health and human services) and ask where to get free tax help in your area. 211 is designed for that sort of thing. – Rocky Feb 24 '15 at 17:28
  • Why not use last year's form (that the CPA did) as a template? That should have most of the information you need. – Rocky Feb 24 '15 at 20:35
  • @Rocky That's what I'm doing. However my CPA used eFile so that specific field is set to "efile", but I can't use that as an option because I have to submit my return by snail-mail. – Dai Feb 24 '15 at 20:39
  • If that's the only field you're having trouble with, picking your service center, there's got to be an answer somewhere on the IRS site. 1.usa.gov/17vfLqs – Rocky Feb 24 '15 at 20:54
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If you're filing form 5471 without a EA/CPA who's familiar with it and other related issues holding your hand - you're an insane person.

Free assistance you can get from VITA and similar, but they won't be familiar with the "esoteric" forms for the reason them being esoteric and not generally used by their target population (poor old people).

As a matter of principle I don't believe I should have any pay any expenses (beyond postage costs) to file my tax return.

Pick your battles. You're not 16 anymore, I would guess.

  • I had a CPA do my 5471 last year (for a 4-figure sum (!!)) which I was very unhappy about. The foreign company has had no cashflow for the past few years which makes it incredibly difficult to justify spending so much money on just for reporting requirements. – Dai Feb 24 '15 at 19:00
  • @Dai sorry to hear about it. That said, penalties for missing data or filing incorrect data on these forms are horrendous. One of the reasons is that so the US people won't invest in foreign companies. It is really not my fault, honestly. Call your Congressman. These laws are complicated and messed up on purpose and that is not in order to make your life easier. – littleadv Feb 24 '15 at 20:00

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