Nothing is more frustrating than being put on hold or being switched around endlessly when you need the help of a real human. And tax season is stressful enough without the outright warfare it takes to get an IRS employee on the phone. Last year the wait times were reported to be up to three hours! So how do you get a human on the line at the IRS?
Things may get better this tax season. We’ll see. The IRS has been going through a modernization process intended to make things easier for the working class tax payers. The IRS has reportedly added thousands of agents to its phone lines with the express purpose of serving the tax payer.
But you can help yourself by knowing a few tricks to getting through to the Infernal Revenue Service.
When to Call?
First, know when to call. Of course the IRS wants you to check its online resources first. This may help to answer your questions. But with a tax code that has literally millions of lines, well, good luck.
The IRS says call wait times average around 15 minutes between January and April. The heaviest call volumes are usually on Mondays and Tuesdays, during Presidents Day weekend and right before Tax Day.
But the best time to call is usually based on where you are in the country. For the east coast call before 9:00am and on the west coast after 5:00pm. No instructions were given for those nice folks in Oklahoma City, Topeka of Lincoln, NE. You’re smack in the middle and on your own.
How to Call?
So how do you call to speak to a person? Well, according to Amy Northard there is a method to the automated madness and she has unlocked it. It works as follows;
- The IRS telephone number is 1-800-829-1040, and they are available from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Monday thru Friday. The best time to call is early in the morning.
- The first question the automated system will ask you is to choose your language.
- Once you’ve set your language, do NOT choose Option 1 (regarding refund info). Choose option 2 for “Personal Income Tax” instead.
- Next, press 1 for “form, tax history, or payment”.
- Next, press 3 “for all other questions.”
- Next, press 2 “for all other questions.”
- When the system asks you to enter your SSN or EIN to access your account information, do NOT enter anything.
- After it asks twice, you will be prompted with another menu.
- Press 2 for personal or individual tax questions.
- Finally, press 4 for all other inquiries. The system should then transfer you to an agent.
Be Prepared When You Call!
Now that you know the secret path to get talk to a person at least be prepared to do business. That is why you called right?
Make sure to have your act together. Get whatever documents you need ready and in front of you. If you have been successful at getting a person on the line you are not helping yourself if you are not ready. And they could always say call back when you have your sh*t together!
The IRS recommends having the following items ready:
- Social Security numbers (SSN) and birth dates
- Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) for taxpayers without a Social Security number
- Filing status – single, head of household, married filing joint, or married filing separate
- Prior-year tax return
- Tax return you’re calling about
- Any correspondence they sent to you
Face-to-face with an IRS agent.
If you live near a local IRS office skip the main phone line and call that office instead. If they are not able to help you can contact the Taxpayer Assistance Center to schedule a face-to-face appointment where you can get help from an agent.
Still having a hard time getting help from a real live person? Contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service. It’s an independent office within the IRS that exists to help people with their ongoing tax issues.
Now you know.