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Callers to IRS Must Verify ID

Callers to IRS Must Verify ID

If you have to call the IRS help line on behalf of a client, you’ll need more than the client’s name and SSN. By law, IRS operators will speak only with the taxpayer or their legally designated representative. This is all part of the industry-wide push for higher levels of security.

If tax pros call about a third party’s account, they should be prepared to verify their own identity and provide additional information about the taxpayer they represent.

Before you call the IRS about a taxpayer client, have this information handy:

  • Verbal or written authorization from the third party to discuss the account
  • The ability to verify the taxpayer’s name, SSN/ITIN, tax period, and tax forms filed
  • Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) or PIN if a third-party designee
  • A current, completed, and signed Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization or
  • A completed and signed Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative

If your client is deceased, you’ll also need some additional items at hand and ready to fax if needed:

  • The deceased taxpayer’s death certificate, and
  • Either copies of Letters Testamentary approved by the court or IRS Form 56, Notice Concerning Fiduciary Relationship (for estate executors)

Taxpayers are likewise being asked to verify their identities if they need to call the IRS for assistance.

The days before and immediately after President's Day mark the peak time for taxpayer calls to the IRS for help. IRS operators aim to find a resolution to the caller’s issue while they’re on the phone, avoiding the delay of a return call later. In order to increase the chance of that “one-call resolution” solving their issue, taxpayers should have these documents or information at the ready when they call for assistance:

  • Social Security numbers and birth dates for those who were named on the tax return in question
  • An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) letter if the taxpayer has one instead of a Social Security number (SSN)
  • Filing status – Single, Head of Household, Married Filing Jointly or Married Filing Separately
  • The prior-year tax return—telephone assistors may need to verify taxpayer identity with information from the return before answering certain questions
  • A copy of the tax return in question
  • Any IRS letters or notices received by the taxpayer

Whether taxpayer or tax pro, callers to the IRS this time of year need patience. Last year, hold times could be as long as 45 minutes in peak periods—although this year, IRS management said it doesn’t expect wait times to be that long. While IRS operators may be the best source of help on specific taxpayers’ accounts, general questions may be answered by going to IRS.gov and searching for the issue, avoiding the phone-line traffic jam altogether.

Bob Williams

Forget genes; I’ve got words in my DNA. Communication has been part of who I am nearly all my life. From a long career in radio news to another one in newspapers – and a University of Georgia journalism degree sandwiched between the two – language has been my life. I’ve also been fortunate to have learned the tax business from the ground up here at Drake, starting with 1040.com online forms some years ago before moving on to work on the Web. In all things tax-ish, we aim to give you tools you can use.