IRS adds tax forms and info in Spanish, other languages

Accounting

The Internal Revenue Service posted a Spanish version of its Form 1040 and instructions Tuesday and made available publications and online information in other languages.

For the first time ever, the IRS posted a Spanish language version of Form 1040, known as Form 1040(SP), and related instructions for both 1040(SP) and the 1040-SR(SP) for seniors to IRS.gov. Along with Spanish, the IRS has also added other languages for its annual tax guide, IRS Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax, which has been streamlined for tax year 2020, and is now available in Spanish, Chinese (Simplified); Chinese (Traditional); Vietnamese; Korean and Russian. In addition, many other pages of the IRS website, IRS.gov, are now available in these languages, along with Haitian Creole.

The move is part of IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig’s goal of making the IRS more multilingual. Rettig has talked at tax and accounting conferences and congressional hearings about how his wife is an immigrant for whom English wasn’t her first language, so he understands the need to make tax forms and information more widely available (see story). “Being able to talk to and receive information from the nation’s tax agency in their preferred language is something we hope to eventually provide to all taxpayers,” Rettig said in a statement Tuesday. “We want everyone to be on the same playing field, so to speak, and each day that we can move forward with that goal is a good one.”

IRS commissioner Charles Rettig

The IRS is also introducing a new Form 1040 Schedule LEP, “Request for Change in Language Preference,” in English and Spanish, with instructions available in English and 20 other languages. The new form can be filed with a tax return by taxpayers who want to communicate with the IRS in one of these other languages. On the form, they can indicate their language of preference for IRS-issued written communications or change their language of preference. It may take some time for the IRS to adjust, though, especially during a hectic tax season as the agency tries to distribute the latest round of Economic Impact Payments. The IRS cautioned that while the communications may not be sent immediately in the desired language, the IRS will use the information on the form to allocate resources and develop communication alternatives based on the reported language preferences.

“When it comes to filing taxes, being able to ask questions and read forms and instructions is crucial,” stated Ken Corbin, who is the first to fill the new role of IRS Taxpayer Experience Officer, while continuing to be commissioner of the IRS’s Wage and Investment Division. “We take that very seriously and continue to work toward ensuring all taxpayers have what they need without obstacles.”

The IRS is also making available some other materials and services in multiple languages:

  • Publication 1, “Your Rights as a Taxpayer,” and other basic tax information are now available in 20 languages on IRS.gov.
  • Taxpayers who interact with an IRS representative have access to over the phone interpreter services in more than 350 languages.
  • The Earned Income Tax Assistant tool is now available in Spanish.
  • The IRS is continuing to post multilingual information in its social media channels, including Twitter and Instagram. Key messages are going out in six languages, including Spanish, Vietnamese, Russian, Korean, Haitian Creole and Chinese, using both Twitter Moments and Instagram Highlights.
  • The recent Form 1040-SR for seniors, in English and Spanish, offers larger print and a standard deduction chart to make it simpler to use for older Americans.
  • Form W-4 allows taxpayers to correctly adjust their withholding during 2021. The English language version as well as the Spanish language version are available.

The IRS is also adding information about translation services and other multilingual options in the top notices it sends out to taxpayers. For more information, see the “We Speak Your Language” page on IRS.gov.

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