Trying to reach a live IRS agent can be an exercise in futility. The process is notoriously frustrating, with long wait times and automated menus that never seem to lead anywhere. Even when you finally do reach a live person, the agent may be unable to help with your specific issue. It’s no wonder you hang up the phone feeling frustrated and angry.
In this article, we’ll share a few strategies and additional contact numbers to help you navigate the IRS’s vast communications network. These can save you valuable time and headaches when you need to speak to someone about your income tax without waiting on eternal phone holds.
Reasons to call IRS customer service
First, you should carefully consider whether taking the time to call is necessary.
If you have a complex tax situation, for example, you should speak directly with an IRS agent for clarification. Other reasons to speak directly with an agent include:
- You received a notice from the IRS, instructing you to call the given number.
- You expect to miss a payment deadline and need to request more time.
- You need the status of an IRS action that was taken against you.
- You want to confirm that the IRS received your last tax payment.
- You’re a victim of identity theft, which is negatively affecting your tax status.
- You need to dispute a penalty or make payment arrangements.
- You are being audited.
- Your tax return has been rejected.
- You’ve lost or never received a W-2 or 1099-R form, or received incorrect ones.
Paperwork you’ll need before you speak to an agent
Before calling the IRS, be sure to have the following documentation handy to respond to the agent’s questions.
- Your individual taxpayer identification number or your social security number.
- Social security numbers and birthdates of others listed in the tax return in question. If applicable, you’ll also need your business’s tax identification number.
- Last year’s income tax return, since it may be used to verify your identity.
- The copy of the tax return you need to discuss with the agent.
- Any correspondence you received from the IRS such as payment penalty notifications, late notices, etc.
- It also helps to have your questions on paper to refer to during your call.
Factors to keep in mind before you pick up the phone
Before taking up your valuable time to contact the IRS, you should consider the following:
There may be an easier way to get your information
Have you checked IRS.gov to research your problem first? The IRS website may appear overwhelming at first, but it’s a wealth of information that may answer your questions. If you aren’t comfortable researching the site, you can delegate this task to someone else or even recruit a tax professional for the job.
You can also outsource the phone call to a third party such a friend, family member, or business associate if you filed Form 8821 Tax Information Authorization. Additionally, Form 2848 Power of Attorney and Declaration of a Representative gives more rights to a third party by granting them power of attorney to discuss your taxes with the IRS.
Confirm that the IRS can help you over the phone
After a time-consuming wait for an agent, the last thing you want to hear is that they can’t help you with your situation.
Keep in mind that IRS agents won’t assist you with tax law questions, transcript requests, forms, refund status if it’s less than 21 days since you filed, or complaints about your high taxes.
Make the call as early as possible
Your chances of reaching an agent without a long wait are higher if you call as early in the morning as possible. Phone lines open at 7 a.m. local time, so grab some coffee and take advantage of the lower wait times.
Take notes and more notes
Ask for the IRS agent’s name and badge number in case you need to reference what they said at a later date. Get as many details as possible and take notes during the call.
Use the IRS website for government stimulus information
If you need information regarding government stimulus funds, there is no need to call the IRS. The IRS’s Get My Payment website is an informative resource for this purpose. You can also find out your eligibility information for stimulus funds.
Contacting an agent at the IRS
A little known fact is that there are many other IRS phone numbers that will connect you with someone who can assist with your specific tax concerns. For example, there are separate numbers each for help with amended tax returns, excise tax questions, and government and tax-exempt entities.
The following IRS phone numbers can help you get answers to your small business tax questions and filing information.
1-800-829-1040 Press 3 for business tax form questions, then the choice for which form you need help with or any other questions.
E-file tech support
Corporations, nonprofits, and government entities
Corporate taxpayers, partnerships, and nonprofits
Nonprofits with tax law or filing questions
Government and tax-exempt entities
Excise tax questions
Fraud and disaster assistance
Victims of disaster
Identity and refund theft
Scans, phishing, confirm IRS agent legitimacy
Special tax status
Liens, bankruptcy, tax debt
Verify, payoff, or resolve a tax lien
Check if bankruptcy has changed your tax debt
Check which debts will offset a refund
Tax refund and balance questions
1-800-829-0922, 1-800-829-7650, or 1-800-829-3903
Tax refund status
Tax refund on hold
Tax return issues
Status of an amended return
Report incorrect income on substitute form
Documents, transcripts, forms
Lost ITIN documents
Order a tax transcript
Request paper tax forms
Make an electronic tax payment via the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System
Accessibility for hearing impaired
Find a free tax clinic near you
1-800-906-9887 or 1-888-227-7669
Schedule an appointment with a local IRS office
Taxpayer advocate service
International taxpayer advocate service
Don’t have time to wait on hold? Have the IRS call you
The IRS also has a callback system that can connect you with an agent. The IRS callback system is a way for taxpayers to get help with their tax returns without having to wait on hold.
Simply call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 and follow the prompts to reach the callback option. Leave a message with your contact number and the best time to reach you. This system is especially helpful during tax season, when call volume is at its peak. It’s also useful for taxpayers who live in rural areas or who have limited access to telephone lines. The callback system is a free service, and it’s available to anyone who needs help with their tax return.
Alternatives to calling the IRS
What if, despite your best efforts, you still find it difficult to get through to a live agent? No worries—there are other options available for getting the help you need with your taxes.
Contact a Local Taxpayer Assistance Center
The IRS Local Taxpayer Assistance Center (LTAC) provides tax help to taxpayers who reside in the local area. You can seek assistance from the LTAC by visiting their office, calling them on the phone, or submitting an inquiry online.
The LTAC can provide you with general tax information, help you resolve tax problems, and answer any questions you have about your tax return. They can also provide assistance with IRS audits and collections. If you need help with a specific tax issue, the LTAC may be able to refer you to a specialist who can help you resolve the issue. You can find contact information for your local LTAC on the IRS website.
Call the Taxpayer Advocate Service
The Taxpayer Advocate Service is a government organization that helps taxpayers with many tax questions and problems. They can assist you with everything from understanding your taxes to resolving disputes with the IRS.
TAS is an independent organization within the IRS, meaning they work separately from the agency to advocate for taxpayers. This makes them a valuable resource for anyone who needs help dealing with the IRS. You can find more information on TAS on their website.
Use the Where’s My Refund App
If you are just wondering about the status of your refund, you can find this information from the Where’s My Refund app. Download information for your mobile device can be found on the IRS2Go Mobile App website.
Positive changes are on the horizon
The good news is that the IRS is doing everything in their power to reduce your wait times.
New voice bots
The IRS recently deployed voice bots to provide taxpayers with general information. If you don’t mind responding to a bot, your phone holds can be drastically reduced or even eliminated.
When you request to speak to an agent, you are automatically placed in a queue with this option. However, since the chatbot is providing unauthenticated services, they can’t provide specialized help with your protected account information. The bots are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to advise how to make one-time payments, provide answers to frequently asked questions, and give collection notice clarification.
Additional voice bots have been added to help with the identity authentication process so that taxpayers can establish payment plans, request transcripts, and obtain information about their accounts including payoff details. The IRS is planning to roll out more voice bots with the ability to assist with more complex tax issues.
Additional programs and tools in development
The IRS also recently established the Taxpayer Experience Office to continue its expansion of additional programs and digital tools to improve the customer experience. The office is recruiting additional staff and increasing the number of automated call distribution lines to accommodate backlogged calls into the agency.
How Bench can help
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Contacting the IRS doesn’t have to take hours
The IRS is getting its fair share of criticism regarding long phone hold times. However, they are taking steps to improve wait times by hiring more representatives and implementing voice chatbots and other technologies to respond to commonly asked questions. There is also the option that allows callers to choose between waiting on hold or receiving a call back.
If you still find yourself up against a brick wall when attempting to reach a live IRS agent, you can get help in person at a local taxpayer assistance center or taxpayer advocate service.