Q: Have Americans always had to file federal income taxes?
A: In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln and Congress enacted an income tax to pay for war expenses. Ten years later, the income tax was repealed. However, in 1894, Congress brought the income tax back. It was short lived, however, as the Supreme Court in 1895 ruled the law unconstitutional. Then, in 1913, the United States' 16th constitutional amendment was ratified when Wyoming provided the 3/4 majority of states needed to grant Congress the authority to pass an income tax. Americans have filed income taxes ever since. For a bit of history, visit www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/641 to view a copy of a 1040 tax form from 1913.
Q: Where can Iowans get help filing federal tax returns?
A: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides many items to help taxpayers on its website, www.irs.gov . Iowans can print out tax forms, e-file federal tax returns or even track a federal tax refund. The IRS also has partnered with the Free File Alliance, a group of private sector tax software companies, to provide free federal income tax preparation and electronic filing for eligible taxpayers. The IRS can be reached by phone at 1-800-829-1040, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday, to help answer questions. Iowans who need face-to-face tax help rather than by phone or online also can contact a local Taxpayer Assistance Center located in Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Des Moines, Fort Dodge, Sioux City or Waterloo. Visit www.irs.gov/localcontacts for more information about the Taxpayer Assistance Center nearest you.
Q: If Iowans need help in dealing with the IRS, where can they turn?
A: The Taxpayer Advocate Service offers free, independent and confidential tax assistance to taxpayers who need help resolving problems with the IRS. There is at least one local taxpayer advocate in every state, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Iowa's taxpayer advocate is located in Des Moines and can be reached by dialing 515-564-6888. For more information about the Taxpayer Advocate Service, visit www.irs.gov/advocate . As always though, my offices in Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Des Moines, Sioux City, Waterloo and Washington, D.C. are also at Iowans' service to help with any problems arising with any federal agency, including the IRS. Iowans also can visit my website, http://grassley.senate.gov, scroll over the Info for Iowans tab, and click on Help with Federal Agencies for more information.