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IRS Operation Hours: How to Reach the IRS and What to Do When You Can't

IRS Operation Hours: How to Reach the IRS and What to Do When You Can't

Communicating with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can be a daunting task, especially when you're faced with time-sensitive questions or concerns for your clients’ taxes. Knowing how to reach out to the IRS for assistance is crucial for tax preparers seeking clarification or resolution to their issues. In this blog post, we will explore the three primary ways to contact the IRS and what steps to take if the standard systems don’t work. 

 Call During Operating Hours: A Classic Approach 

The traditional method of reaching the IRS involves picking up the phone and dialing their toll-free number. The IRS operates during specific hours, and calling during these times is essential to connect with a representative who can address your concerns. While wait times can be a challenge, patience is key—and being ready with any documents and information you need before making the call helps streamline the process significantly. 

Before making that initial call, it's crucial to be aware of the topics that agents can help with over the phone. While they can assist with a broad range of subjects, there are certain topics they cannot address. Check to see if your issue can be dealt with over the phone before calling to save time and frustration. 

The IRS places a high priority on safeguarding an individual’s personal information, necessitating a thorough identity verification process before delving into sensitive discussions. To streamline this verification process when making a call, it's essential to have certain information readily available.  

For individuals, this includes Social Security numbers (SSN) and birth dates, the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) for those without an SSN, filing status (such as single, head of household, married filing joint, or married filing separate), the prior-year tax return, the specific tax return being discussed, and any correspondence received from the IRS.  

In cases where third parties are calling on behalf of someone else, be sure to have verbal or written authorization to discuss the account; the taxpayer's name, SSN, or ITIN; the relevant tax return; a valid Form 8821 (Tax Information Authorization) or Form 2848 (Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative); and the preparer tax identification number or personal identification number.  

For third parties inquiring about a deceased taxpayer, be sure to have the death certificate, a court approval letter, or IRS Form 56 (Notice Concerning Fiduciary Relationship) for estate executors.  

Understanding the typical wait times for IRS phone services can help you plan your calls more efficiently. January to April is generally considered the tax-filing season, and individuals contacting the IRS by phone can expect an average wait time of around 4 minutes. However, it's worth noting that certain telephone service lines might encounter extended wait times, particularly on Mondays and Tuesdays, during the Presidents Day weekend, and around the April tax filing deadline.  

However, in the post-filing season period from May to December, the average wait time for telephone services increases to about 13 minutes. Some telephone service lines may experience prolonged wait times during this period, with Mondays and Tuesdays generally seeing higher call volumes. Being mindful of these patterns can assist individuals in planning their interactions with the IRS more effectively. 

Insider tip: IRS agents suggest thinking outside the box when calling. Many tax preparers and payers tend to call during their own flexible times such as lunch hour or the end of a workday. If you call during other times during the day, call traffic may not be as heavy. 

What time does the IRS close? 

IRS help lines are open Monday through Friday, and Alaska and Hawaii residents should follow Pacific time rather than local time. Puerto Rico phone lines are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time. 

  • 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-profit taxes: 877-829-5500, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time 
  • Estate and gift taxes (Form 706/709): 866-699-4083, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern time 
  • Excise taxes: 866-699-4096, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time 
  • Overseas callers: Use the IRS International Services page.  
  • Callers who are hearing impaired: Teletypewriter/TDD, 800-829-4059 

Navigating the IRS phone system doesn't have to be a daunting task. By understanding the topics IRS agents can address by phone, being prepared to verify your identity, and considering the average wait times during different periods, you can make your interactions with the IRS more efficient. Remember, the key is to be well-prepared and patient, ensuring that you get the assistance you need without unnecessary delays. 

Visit Your Local Taxpayer Assistance Center During Hours of Operation: A Personal Touch 

For those who prefer face-to-face interaction or have complex issues that require in-person help, visiting a local Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) is a viable option. These centers are spread across the country and offer services by appointment. Before heading to a TAC, check their operating hours and schedule an appointment to ensure that you receive the help you need. Be prepared to bring relevant documents to facilitate a smoother resolution process. 

Taxpayer Assistance Centers observe closures on federal holidays, emphasizing the need for individuals to call and schedule appointments in advance. When visiting these centers, it's essential to bring specific items, including a current government-issued photo ID, a taxpayer identification number such as a Social Security number, and any necessary tax documents. For those applying for or renewing an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), having the relevant documents prepared in advance is crucial. Additionally, there is a plea to prioritize health and safety by checking the CDC COVID Data Tracker for community-specific information. If feeling unwell, individuals are encouraged to reschedule their appointments. 

What time do IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers close? 

Hours vary by center—find your closest one, along with operating hours, at IRS.gov. 

Using an IRS Tax Pro Account: The Digital Frontier  

In an era dominated by technology, the IRS has embraced the online realm to provide taxpayers and tax preparers alike with convenient options for communication. Individuals can set up an IRS Online Account, while tax professionals can now create a Tax Pro Account 

The Tax Pro Account offers expanded capabilities for managing taxpayer information and authorizations. With this tool, users can easily access individual and business taxpayer details, view active powers of attorney (POAs), and review tax information authorizations (TIAs). Additionally, the platform allows for the real-time withdrawal of authorizations and the seamless submission of POA or TIA requests to an individual's IRS online account. For those preferring traditional forms, authorizations can be submitted using Forms 2848 and 8821. 

To use the Tax Pro Account, certain criteria must be met. For instance, you need a Centralized Authorization File (CAF) number individually assigned to you in good standing, along with a CAF address in the United States (or DC). For those making POA requests, further eligibility requirements include the possession of the authority to practice before the IRS as an attorney, certified public accountant, enrolled agent, enrolled actuary, or enrolled retirement plan agent. 

To set up a Tax Pro Account, visit the IRS Tax Pro Account page. 

What time does the IRS close online? 

The Online Account serves as a valuable resource that is always open, offering guidance on where to file your return and even providing assistance from volunteers for tax preparation. It serves as a one-stop solution for individuals seeking online support for a wide range of tax issues. 

When All Else Fails: Turning to the Taxpayer Advocate Service 

Despite your best efforts, there may be instances where reaching the IRS through the conventional channels proves unsuccessful. In such cases, the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) can help you resolve client issues.  

The TAS helps taxpayers and tax preparers in alleviating financial challenges, especially for those who have tried and failed to resolve their issues through normal channels. You can contact the TAS for direct assistance with a client’s case, and they will work with you to navigate the situation. 

Navigating the intricate web of tax-related matters requires persistence and an understanding of the available channels for seeking assistance. Whether you choose to make a phone call, visit a Taxpayer Assistance Center, or utilize the convenience of an IRS Tax Pro Account, knowing your options for resolving client issues is crucial. In cases where conventional methods fall short, the Taxpayer Advocate Service is there to ensure that you receive the support you need.  

Remember, successfully resolving tax issues often involves a combination of patience, preparation, and using the diverse range of resources at your disposal. 

Drake Software Blog Team

The Drake Software Blog Team is proud to cover the latest in tax-industry-related news, from tax law and IRS updates to technology and business strategies. If you have questions about an article or just want to reach out to our staff, email comments@taxingsubjects.com.