The Internal Revenue Service, better known as the IRS, is the United States' tax collection agency. Since this federal agency serves just about everyone living in the country, it isn't surprising that it gets many calls to its customer service center.
People call IRS customer support for a range of tax-related questions, including:
Unfortunately, many individuals have fallen victim to scams perpetrated by dishonest people claiming to be IRS agents. Calling the IRS, verify that the number you have is correct. You can do this at IRS.gov, which is the only official website for the IRS.
Scammers may provide you with a number and claim that it is for the IRS. However, if you call it, you will be speaking to somebody who is working with the scammer. In addition, do not rely on information, including provided phone numbers, from sent to you or websites other than IRS.gov.
The IRS's website provides a list of numbers for specific divisions and concerns. If you are calling regarding your own taxes, there is a different number than for those individuals who are calling on behalf of someone else. In addition, there are separate lines for those who are calling on behalf of a deceased person's estate, as well as lines for people seeking free help with tax return preparation or the Taxpayer Advocate Service.
Callers to the IRS are required to provide information to the IRS that can establish the caller's identity. A list of required information and documentation for different types of calls can be found on the IRS website, but typically includes:
The IRS notes that calls during taxpayer season, January through April, can have wait times of up to 15 minutes. Calls made in May through December can have wait times of up to 27 minutes.
IRS agents will provide you with their name and badge number when you call. Make sure you have pen and paper handy to record this information in case you need to take further action or escalate your concerns.
While the IRS may have a fierce reputation, many people actually report positive experiences with IRS phone representatives. Callers report being treated courteously and being provided with realistic options for dealing with tax questions and issues.
IRS customer service representatives can help with a range of issues, including:
IRS phone agents cannot provide you with legal or accounting advice. If you have questions about tax obligations or pending tax cases, you will need to speak with a tax return specialist, accountant or attorney. In some cases, you will need to fill out and sign forms that must be returned to the IRS by mail.
If you hang up the phone with the IRS feeling frustrated, don't lose heart. There may still be ways to get your questions answered or to resolve your IRS issues.