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Calling the IRS? Here’s What You Need to Know

Calling the IRS? Here’s What You Need to Know

Tax professionals calling the IRS for help will have to answer a question before they can ask one. Tax pros and taxpayers will all have to verify their identities before they can get telephone help from the Internal Revenue Service help desks.

The IRS is urging would-be callers to first check out the agency’s online resources – like the IRS Service Guide -  for tax question answers. Searching online could mean the difference between waiting on the phone for “the next available assistor,” and doing other pressing tasks.

If a taxpayer does decide to call, the IRS reminds that their phone assistors can only discuss personal information with the taxpayer or someone who’s been authorized to speak on their behalf.

To help avoid the need for a second call, taxpayers should have the following information handy:

  • Social Security numbers and birth dates for those who were named on the tax return
  • An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number letter if the taxpayer has one instead of an SSN
  • Their filing status: single, head of household, married filing joint or married filing separate
  • 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

If taxpayers or tax professionals are calling about someone else’s account, they should be prepared to verify their identities and provide information about the person they are representing. Before calling about a third-party, they should have the following information available:

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

If the caller is looking for information regarding a deceased taxpayer, the requirements are different. In that case, the caller should be prepared to fax these documents to the IRS when instructed: the deceased taxpayer’s death certificate, and either copies of Letters Testamentary approved by the court, or IRS Form 56, Notice Concerning Fiduciary Relationship.

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.