How Much Do I Owe in Taxes to the IRS? 3 Ways to Find Out

account summary of taxes owedIf you owe tax to the IRS but aren’t sure how much you owe, there are a few ways to find out. You can do that online, over the phone, or through the mail. The most reliable ways are over the phone or by using the online tool offered by the IRS since mail you receive from the IRS may not contain total balances for all years or mail could have been lost. Here are the details.

Going Online to Find Out How Much You Owe the IRS

The IRS offers an online tool to help you figure out how much tax you owe. The tool shows the balance for each tax year including the principal amount and any penalties or interest. It also shows payments you’ve made in the last 18 months and your payoff amount.

The tool updates interest and penalties every 24 hours, but it usually takes one to three weeks for payments to post. If you’ve sent a payment recently, don’t be too worried if it doesn’t show up right away.

To use the service you need your social security number and date of birth, and to verify your identity, you need your filing status (single, married filing jointly, etc) and your mailing address from your last tax return. You also need an email address and a mobile phone with your name on the account. Finally, you need an account number from a mortgage or home equity loan, a car loan, or a credit card—that also needs to be in your name.

Although this may feel like jumping through a lot of hoops, it’s all in place to help safeguard your identity. The IRS pulls a credit report to verify you. This is a “soft pull” and it does not affect your credit rating.

If you need more details, you can use the online tool to view or print a transcript. You may also ask the IRS to mail you a transcript—that takes five to ten days.

The online service to check how much you owe the IRS is not available in the middle of the night, or during the day on Sunday. Here are the hours:

  • Monday to Friday: 6 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. ET
  • Saturday: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET
  • Sunday: 6 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. ET

Calling the IRS to Find Out How Much You Owe

If you don’t have a cell phone, a loan, or any the other information required for the online service, you may find out your balance by calling the IRS directly.

Individual taxpayers may call 1-800-829-1040, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time.

Taxpayers representing business may call 1-800-829-4933, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time.

Using the Mail to Find Out How Much You Owe the IRS

If you have a copy of the latest notice mailed to you by the IRS, you can check that for your balance. Note that the amount shown does not include any interest or penalties assessed since the notice was sent. Also, many times the IRS will send notices that only contain one year of taxes owed, so if you owe taxes for multiple years it is likely that you will need to add up the balances on all of the notices (assuming they sent letters for all of the years that are owed). To get up-to-date information, you need to check online or by calling the IRS.