Taxes can be complicated. If you need help with yours, have concerns about your tax refund, or want to set up a payment plan, you may need to talk with someone at the IRS who can answer your questions. Because the IRS is distributing stimulus checks, you might also have questions related to your coronavirus direct payments and may need to get in touch with an IRS agent to ask for information about your pandemic relief funds.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find a phone number that enables you to quickly reach live support. You could find yourself trapped in an automated system with long wait times or the phone lines may be busy and you might not reach an agent at all.
The good news is that there are techniques you can use to maximize the chances of getting the help you need. Here are some options when you need more help than the IRS website can provide.
Information you might need when you call the IRS
Because it can take time and energy to reach someone at the IRS, you'll want to make certain you have all the information you need to ask your questions and get answers.
The IRS will also want to verify your identity when you call, so you'll need to be ready to answer their questions to prove who you are.
Before you call, make sure you have:
- Your Social Security number (SSN)
- The birth dates of any individuals who were included on your past tax return
- Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) (if applicable)
- Your tax filing status
- A copy of the business income or personal income tax return you have questions about
- Any IRS correspondence you received, such as letters or notices
If you are calling about an older return, you might not necessarily have a paper copy anymore. If you filed online with the help of a tax program, the best tax software often stores past returns, so see whether you can sign in to your account to obtain a copy of the return you need.
How to talk to a live person at the IRS: 6 options
1. Try the toll-free IRS hotline
The IRS has several toll-free phone numbers depending on the type of tax return you file. The table below shows the numbers that apply to different types of tax filers.
|Type of tax filer||Phone number||Operating hours|
|Individuals||800-829-1040||7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time|
|Businesses||800-829-4933||7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time|
|Non-profits||877-829-5500||8 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time|
|Estate and gift taxes||866-699-4083||8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. ET|
|Excise taxes||866-699-4096||8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET|
In past tax filing seasons, the IRS indicates that wait times to speak with a live person average 15 minutes. However, you may wait longer than average this year, as the agency has warned that live phone help is "extremely limited at this time."
2. Call a local IRS office
Throughout the country, there are local IRS offices with individuals who can help you with various tax issues. You can find yours by using the IRS Office Locator Tool. In order to get help at a local office, you'll need to:
- Call ahead to schedule an appointment
- Bring a government-issued photo ID as well as your SSN and other documents necessary to address your issue
- Wear a mask and practice social distancing
3. Talk to your local Taxpayer Advocate Service
Taxpayer Advocate Services are considered "your voice at the IRS." These services are set up to help taxpayers understand and exercise their rights.
Taxpayer advocates help people address problems they can't resolve directly with the IRS. They might work with you on issues related to refunds; IRS notices you receive; errors in your tax returns; tax credits and deductions; and a host of other issues.
In-person taxpayer advocate services are unfortunately still closed as a result of COVID-19. However, you can submit an online form to request help. You can also call 877-777-4778 if you haven't yet opened a case, or call your local office and schedule a phone call by using an online tool to search for a TAS office.
4. Call about an amended return
If you've made a mistake or omission with your taxes, you might need to file an amended return. When you do that, the IRS has an online tool you can use to find out the status of your amended return. It may take as long as three weeks for data to show up online after you file, though.
The IRS is processing mail — including amended returns — more slowly this year because of the pandemic. They've made clear you should not call the IRS just because things seem to take longer than usual. The IRS also indicates that agents can't provide any more information about amended returns than the online tool can.
The agency urges taxpayers to "Call our toll-free number only when the tool asks you to contact us." If you must call, you can use the same toll-free number in the table above.
5. Schedule with a local taxpayer assistance center
Throughout the country, there are Taxpayer Assistance Center locations that you can visit if you need an in-person review of your documents.
You generally can visit an assistance center by appointment only and must wear masks and follow social distancing protocols. This IRS website provides a link to find taxpayer assistance centers by state.
6. Contact about your stimulus check
If your question relates to your coronavirus stimulus check, the IRS has provided a special phone number. You can call 800-919-9835 for help with pandemic relief funds.
However, the IRS recommends first using IRS.gov to try to obtain information. There is an online FAQ related to these economic impact payments and your 1040 tax form also includes instructions for claiming your stimulus checks.
A note on IRS scams
Although you can call the IRS, the IRS will not call you to ask for any personal information or your bank account details. In fact, if you are contacted by someone purporting to be the IRS, there's a good chance the person on the line is a criminal trying to obtain your personal information for identity theft or other nefarious purposes.
If you're being asked for any personal details by phone, text message, email, or social media channels, you are almost assuredly being scammed because the IRS won't ask for this information. It also won't call to demand payment; threaten to have you arrested for non-payment; or threaten to revoke your driver's license or immigration status.
How do you speak to a real person at the IRS?
You can talk with someone at the IRS by calling the agency's toll-free number. There are different numbers for different tax filers. Individuals should call 800-829-1040 and business tax filers should call 800-829-4933. Support is available at these numbers between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. local time. However, the IRS has warned that phone support is very limited now and you can typically expect long wait times.
Can you email the IRS with income tax return questions?
The IRS will not answer questions about taxes via email, and the agency warns taxpayers against sending personal information via email unless they visit IRS.gov and use the agency's secure online services.
Can you email the IRS with questions about your stimulus check?
The IRS doesn't answer personal questions via email. If you need help with your stimulus check, you can call 800-919-9835.
The bottom line
Understanding how to file taxes can be one of the most complicated parts of learning how to manage your money. But if you need help from the IRS, it's available — just be prepared to wait on the phone for a bit. Try these six techniques to get in touch with the IRS and get your tax questions answered.