Four Things You Should Know Before Calling the IRS

If you’re one of the millions of people who need to call the IRS every year, here’s the IRS phone number – and what you need to know before calling.

Individuals: (800) 829-1040

Businesses: (800) 829-4933

TTY/TDD for people with hearing impairments: (800) 829-4059

These are the general IRS numbers, but you may need to call a specific number

If you’re calling about an IRS notice, call the number on the notice.

If you don’t have the notice, you could:

  • Navigate the IRS to find the number.
  • Use a tax pro who has a dedicated practitioner line.
  • Try calling the general number.

But know this: It’s hard to get to a person when you call the IRS

Expect wait time (or even a “courtesy disconnect ”), an automated phone tree, and a representative who will probably try to divert you to IRS.gov. Also, you may have a better phone number to call the IRS directly based on your issue.

Here are four facts that can help you minimize or avoid this experience.

1. Don’t assume you even have to call.

Why? Two reasons:

There might be easier ways to get what you need. Before you jump right in, find out if you can get the information you need at IRS.gov. (See #2 for more.) Learn how to research your IRS account.

You can get someone else to call for you. It doesn’t have to be you. You can outsource this task to a tax pro with a simple form.

The more complicated your situation, the more likely that this is the right approach to take.

Tax pros know “IRS speak” and have a dedicated practitioner hotline to call. You can authorize a tax pro to completely deal with the IRS for you, or simply to get information on your behalf.

2. Know what you can (and can’t) accomplish with a call.

You already know you’ll get familiar with IRS hold music. But here’s some more helpful information.

What you shouldn’t call about

The IRS expects you to use IRS.gov as your main resource. So, on a call, the IRS won’t handle:

  • Tax law questions
  • Transcript requests (although you can visit an automated phone tree to order your transcript)
  • IRS forms
  • Refund status, if it’s been less than 21 days since you filed
  • Complaints about your taxes being too high

What you can call about

It can be productive for you to call, if:

  • You got an IRS notice (call the number on the notice).
  • You’re going to miss an IRS deadline and need to request more time (to pay off a tax balance, send information, or respond to an IRS notice).
  • The “Where’s My Refund?” tool tells you to call.
  • You need your tax payoff amount.
  • You have questions about your IRS payment plan (called an installment agreement).
  • You want to know the status of any IRS action (like a penalty abatement request, a payment correction, etc.)
  • You want to make sure the IRS received your payment.
  • You lost or never received your Form W-2 and/or Form 1099-R – or you got an incorrect one.

3. Call at the best time.

A good rule of thumb: Call as early in the morning as possible.

Phones are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (your local time) Monday to Friday, except:

  • Residents of Hawaii and Alaska should follow Pacific time.
  • Puerto Rico hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time.

Wait times average 15 minutes (during tax season) to 27 minutes the rest of the year. Wait times are higher at the beginning of the week, during Presidents Day weekend, and close to the filing deadline.

4. Be ready with everything the IRS will ask about.

First, you’ll have to prove your identity with your name and Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

Be prepared to provide your tax return information, including:

  • Name(s), dates of birth, and SSNs on the return
  • Your filing status
  • Possibly information from one of your information statements (Form W-2/1099)
  • Any letters/notices the IRS sent you

It’s best if you have your last filed return in front of you when you call.

If you’re calling for someone else, you’ll need the person there with you to speak with the IRS. Or, he or she can authorize you to make the call with Form 8821.

You can make the call more effective by:

  • Writing down your questions ahead of time
  • Recording the IRS representative’s name and badge number in case you need to reference the call later
  • Remaining courteous to the IRS representative
  • Writing down all the answers you get in as much detail as possible
  • Setting a deadline with the IRS if you need the IRS to take action (and follow up with the IRS if it doesn’t happen)

Where to start – and how to get help

You can use these best practices to call the IRS – or learn more about researching your IRS account. You can also authorize your tax pro to do it all for you. Learn more about H&R Block’s Tax Audit & Notice Services. Or make an appointment for a free consultation with a local tax professional by calling 855-536-6504 or finding a local tax pro.

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