Calling the IRS

There are times where it will be necessary to call the IRS.

When you have a simple matter (such as responding to an incorrect address on your records), it may not make sense to have your preparer fill out a power of attorney, wait for it to post to the central system and then make the call on your behalf.  In that case, you will need to tackle the dreaded task yourself.

To ease your pain, here are a few simple tips:

Get the correct number:

I see you rolling your eyes!  The IRS has several numbers; almost all of which lead through a tangled phone tree.  We just want you to start at the right trunk! Here is a handy link to the IRS info on calling: https://www.irs.gov/help-resources/telephone-assistance

Have your paperwork:

Whether you are calling about a notice, a payment, or you just want to shoot the breeze with a real live IRS agent, make sure you have the needed information on hand (well, except for that last one – that’s not really a thing). Examples are: Copy of the notice, detail on your payment (if a dispute), Key dates, and tax ID information.

Make sure you are allowed to call:

If you need to call on behalf of anyone other than yourself, you need to take several steps. I won’t outline them here; but suffice it to say you will not be happy if, after waiting on hold for-ev-er you are told the agent can’t assist you.

Dial:

it’s the moment of truth. Make the call.

Take notes:

The agent who answers will begin by rattling off his or her name and ID number. Write this down.  They will say it quickly and you won’t catch it.  Say, “Hello, Could you please repeat your ID for me?” then Write. It. Down.

Explain:

Give a concise reason for your call. They won’t do much until (a) they know you called the right number (see #1) and (b) they confirm your ID.  No need to give them the long-winded reason for calling right now- be to the point then answer their questions.

Explain Further:

Once the agent has confirmed your information, they will ask you follow-up questions specific to your situation.  Here again make notes on the conversation.  I know you think you will remember, but the odds of remembering the nuance, date and time of this conversation in six weeks are pretty slim.

Plan out any follow-up:

Did the agent promise a confirmation by mail? Mark your calendar for a week after the promised date.  Follow up by calling again if the confirmation is not received.

Some supplemental suggestions: Completely unofficial & unnecessary but oh-so-helpful thoughts:

  1. Coffee: Waiting on hold is far more palatable with a cup of joe
  2. Call in the morning: no one likes to call the IRS, so they put it off. Not only will calling in the AM keep that shadow from hanging over you all day, you will likely have shorter wait times (Bonus!)
  3. Don’t call on a Monday: yes, we know we told you not to put off calling; but all the folks who received nasty notices over the weekend are waiting to jam up the phone lines Monday. So, unless you’ve already put off calling and Monday is the absolute last chance you have to resolve the matter timely; we suggest avoiding it.
  4. Grab your Bluetooth and a tutu: calling anytime between mid-October and late January will subject you to “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy” hold music. On a loop.  Embrace it.
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