If you owe the IRS taxes, they’ll find you quickly. But when you need to reach them, it is often a different story. Particularly in the age of COVID-19, when the administration of complex coronavirus tax relief programs is straining an already understaffed agency, the IRS has become notorious for long wait times and difficulty reaching a live human being who can help.
If you are struggling to find help with your tax issue, here are a few tips on how to contact the IRS.
1. Best Time to Call the IRS
Like at any call center, the queue volume at the IRS can vary from day to day and even from hour to hour within the day. The toll-free IRS phone number (800) 829-1040 is open Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. local time except in Puerto Rico where the hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. According to the official IRS website, Mondays have the highest call volumes.
The best time to call the IRS is reported to be first thing in the morning or right before the end of the day, but keep in mind that many other taxpayers have the same idea. You might have better luck if you can get away for a call during the mid-morning or mid-afternoon hours when others are stuck at work. By calling on different days and at different times during the day, you can maximize your chance of catching the queue when it’s minimally backlogged.
No matter when you call, make sure to gather the relevant tax information beforehand. This will save you from being unprepared for the call and having to call again, starting the aggravating waiting process over. At a minimum, you should have the following information ready:
- Your Social Security Number (SSN).
- Your filing status.
- Your W-2 or 1099 form.
- Any relevant correspondence you have received from the IRS.
2. Visit IRS.gov Online
Though it might take a little digging, the official IRS website has the answers to many of the tax questions that people call to ask. Surprisingly, for a government website, it is actually pretty intuitive and user-friendly. Its search feature in the top right corner can help you pinpoint internal pages that have the tax answers you need. For example, of you’re looking to order a transcript, you can go to: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/get-transcript. To make a payment, you can go to: https://www.irs.gov/payments.
3. Try the IRS Interactive Tax Assistant
The IRS Interactive Tax Assistant offers help with many common and not-so-common tax questions people have for the IRS. More than a basic IRS FAQ page, it features modules that walk you through whatever you are trying to do, whether it is accounting for an education grant on your tax return or figuring out if you owe self-employment tax for a side business.
4. Browse the IRS Let Us Help You Page
The IRS Let Us Help You page lets you circumvent talking to a live person at the IRS for a number of tax issues. Just find the tax issue you are dealing with in the menu, and the website will walk you through the solution.
5. View IRS Tax Refund FAQs
One of the most frequently asked IRS questions is “where’s my refund?” The Tax Refund FAQ page has answers to the most common IRS refund questions, like “How quickly will I get my refund?”, “When can I check my refund’s status?”, and “Will calling the IRS help me get my refund faster?”.
6. Check Tax Refund Status
You can check the current status of your tax refund by going to Check My Refund Status. You will just need your SSN or ITIN, filing status and exact refund amount.
7. View IRS Coronavirus Tax Relief Updates
If you have questions about coronavirus tax relief, the IRS keeps its Coronavirus Tax Relief page updated with the latest coronavirus tax information, including news about the expanded Advance Child Tax Credit and Economic Impact Payments. It can also walk you through what to do if you have not received your first or second stimulus check.
8. Download the IRS Mobile App IRS2GO
The IRS mobile app IRS2GO lets you check your refund status, make payments, find tax preparation assistance, and get answers to common tax questions via your iPhone or Android device.
9. Make an In-Person Appointment at a Local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC)
The IRS has locations in every state where you can receive in-person assistance at a local office. The Taxpayer Assistance Center page lists where you can find TAC help in your state.
10. Contact the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS)
The Taxpayer Advocate Service, also known as TAS, is a separate institution within the IRS that works with taxpayers to try to solve their issues. It can serve as an intermediary between you and the IRS, and it can often get answers to tax questions faster than you can get them on your own.
11. Contact the IRS by Mail to Respond to an IRS Notice
If you received an IRS notice by mail, you may respond by mail. Your notice will contain the respond-to address. Note that the wait time to receive a subsequent response might be many weeks.
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