Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a U.S. government agency that makes sure banks, lenders, and other financial companies treat you fairly.

If you or your client is having a having a problem with a financial product or service, submit a complaint to the CFPB and they will directly forward it to the institution in question and work to get a response, generally within 15 days.

Find a CPA, Enrolled Agent, or Attorney Outside of CEP

If a client is looking for a referral to a tax professional outside of CEP, you can refer them to the following IRS website:

This website provides links to national organizations of tax professionals that partner with the IRS.

For more information about tax preparer certifications and qualifications, checking a tax preparer's credentials, and filing a complaint about a tax preparer, please reference the following IRS web page:

Finding Prior-Year Tax Information

It is recommended to hold onto your tax return copies and supporting documents in case you ever need to reference them. However, if you or a client no longer has these records, the IRS Tax Tip Here's How to Get Prior-Year Tax Information describes how to request a tax return copy or transcript from the IRS.

IRS Payment Options

Payment Options

The IRS has many payment options available to those who owe. Clients can pay with: 

  • Check or money order
  • Electronic Funds Withdrawal- a direct debit payment that can be set up when you file the return
  • Debit or credit card- you can pay online, by phone or with IRS2Go app through authorized debit and credit card processors. There is a fee from the card processors for this service. Visit, and click debit or credit card for authorized card processors and their phone numbers.
  • Cash- with PayNearMe, you can make a cash payment at more than 7,000 7-Eleven stores nationwide. To pay with cash, first, visit and follow the instructions.
  • IRS Direct Pay- a free service that lets taxpayers pay from a checking or savings account. Direct Pay allows you to change or cancel a payment using the Look Up a Payment feature up to two business days before the payment date. To access Direct Pay go to or use the IRS2Go app with your mobile device.
  • Online account- you can access your federal tax account at Your online account will show the amount you owe, details of your balance, and your payment history. You can also use your online account to pay from a bank account, with a debit or credit card or apply for a payment plan if you need more time to pay.

Need Time to Pay

Payments made after the filing deadline accrue interest and penalties. The IRS Tax Tip What Taxpayers Should do When They Need More Time to Pay explains additional options for those who can't pay the entire amount right away. More information is also available on this flyer created by our Tax Clinic: I Owe a Tax Debt: What are My Payment Alternatives? (Spanish, Chinese, Polish). For support in navigating these options, or filling out the paperwork, refer clients to our Tax Clinic of professional attorneys at (312) 252-0280, Option 3, or email


If you owe money to the IRS or Illinois Department of Revenue, they can garnish (levy) your wages or Social Security benefits, levy your bank account, or file a lien—all actions that can make it difficult to maintain good credit. If you disagree with the amount that the IRS or Illinois Department of Revenue says you owe, CEP can investigate and work to correct it. If you agree with the amount you owe, CEP can help you set up an affordable payment arrangement. Learn more: I Owe a Tax Debt: What are My Payment Alternatives? (Spanish, Chinese, Polish)

Online Account at

You can access your federal tax account through a secure login at View the amount you owe, along with details of your balance, your payment history, tax records, and key tax return information from your most recent tax return as originally filed. You can also pay from your bank account, with a debit or credit card or you can apply for a payment plan if you need more time to pay.

First-time users must authenticate their identity through the Secure Access process. Additional information about secure access can be found at Returning users can log in with their user name and password.

The account balance will update no more than once every 24 hours, usually overnight. After making a payment, allow up to three weeks for it to appear in the payment history.

The IRS continues to add additional features to help individual taxpayers to conveniently monitor their account information online.

Article provided by the IRS.

Plan for Next Year: Tax Reform, Withholding Calculator, Estimated Payments

While the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act didn’t impact most 2017 tax returns, many of the changes will come into effect this 2018 tax year.

Our friends at Prosperity Now! shared a Tax Reform Talking Tips flyer that outlines the changes that most impact our communities. 

Tips for Self-Employed Taxpayers

Self-employed taxpayers must check that they are paying the correct amount of taxes through quarterly estimated tax payments. Most self-employed individuals, including people in the sharing economy like Uber drivers, are required to pay quarterly installments of estimated tax, because their paychecks don’t have taxes automatically withheld. Taxpayers should re-calculate their payment amounts to account for tax law changes. For more information about estimated tax payments, refer to this IRS news release.

Tips for Employees

Taxpayers with income reported on a Form W-2 should review their Form W-4 to be sure that the correct amount of tax is being withheld. The IRS's Withholding Calculator may be helpful to calculate the correct withholding amount. If changes need to be made, employees will need to submit a new Form W-4 to their employer.

The IRS encourages everyone to check their withholding, but it is especially important for households with two or more jobs, who have dependents, who itemize their taxes, or who have complex tax situations. The IRS's latest Paycheck Checkup news release has additional information. 

Tax Reform Talking Points

The IRS put together talk points for VITA volunteers to help explain how tax reform may affect clients.

Solid Ground Client Newsletter

Solid Ground is CEP's quarterly newsletter where we provide clients with tax and finance advice.

The full archive is available on our Newsletter Archive page. 

Tax Scams

The IRS Dirty Dozen Tax Scams to Watch Out For is a list of the most common tax scams that occur during filing season.

The top scams for 2018 include:

  • Abusive tax shelters - See IR-2018-62
  • Frivolous tax arguments - See IR-2018-58
  • Falsified income, fake Forms 1099 - See IR-2018-55
  • Falsely padding deductions - See IR-2018-54
  • Improper claims for business credits - See IR-2018-49
  • Falsely inflated refunds; Seniors, many others at risk - See IR-2018-48
  • Fake charities; taxpayers should be alert to scams involving disasters, worthwhile causes - See IR-2018-47
  • Tax Return Preparer Fraud: Taxpayers Urged to Choose Reputable Tax Preparers - See IR-2018-45
  • Identity Theft - See IR-2018-42
  • Phone Scams Pose Serious Threat - See IR-2018-40
  • Phishing Schemes - See IR-2018-39

Track your refund using Where’s My Refund?

You can get fast answers about your refund by using the Where’s My Refund? tool available on and through the IRS2Go mobile app. All you need is your Social Security number, tax filing status and the exact amount of your refund.

You can use Where’s My Refund? to start checking the status of your return within 24 hours after the IRS receives your e-filed return or 4 weeks after you mailed your paper return. Where’s My Refund? has a tracker that displays progress through 3 stages:

  1. Return Received,
  2. Refund Approved, and
  3. Refund Sent.

Where’s My Refund? is updated no more than once every 24 hours, usually overnight, so you don’t need to check the status more often.

The IRS issues more than 9 out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. However, some tax returns take longer to process than others for many reasons, including when a return includes errors, is incomplete, needs further review, or is affected by identity theft or fraud.

Article provided by the IRS

Understanding Refund Advance Loans and Checks

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) published a blog providing helpful guidance regarding the filing of tax returns, using tax preparers, and getting tax refunds early.  Read on.

Voter Registration

In order to gather data on the constituents we serve, CEP has decided to gather information on voter registration. On our supplemental intake for tax season 2018, we have added the question, "Are you registered to vote?" Data from the Census Bureau shows that people with lower incomes have lower voter registration rates and turn out less than those with higher incomes. The people that we serve are distinct from the general income-eligible population in that we know they engage with and take advantage of community resources like those we provide. CEP has included a question on voter registration because we are interested in knowing whether engagement with community resources corresponds with greater rates of civic engagement among our constituents. CEP's Voter Registration Services document describes our reasoning for including this question on our supplemental intake. 

To that end, thank you for supporting us in these efforts. We have taken steps to arm you with the resources you will need to answer any questions you might get from clients or volunteers. Below is a list of useful resources.

First and foremost, please remember that there are certain requirements to vote in the U.S. including being US citizen. If an undocumented individual unknowingly registers to vote, they may hurt their chances of applying for citizenship in the future. Please be aware of this when working with our ITIN holding tax clients and inform them of these implications.

To vote in Illinois

  • You must be a United States Citizen.
  • You must be 17 years old on or before the date of the Primary Election and turn 18 on or before the date of the General Election.
  • You must live in your election precinct at least 30 days prior to Election Day.
  • You must not be serving a sentence of confinement in any penal institution as a result of a conviction.
  • You may not claim the right to vote anywhere else.