Tax season can be an overwhelming time when you're not a tax expert, but the IRS stands by to guide you through it. The agency makes itself accessible in many ways if you have questions about completing your tax return, if you want to check your tax refund status, or if you need help for another tax-related purpose.
Staff members are on hand to help you with questions or problems that might arise, so you can get your return completed and filed with as little hassle as possible. But the IRS cautioned in December 2021 that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause some delays in services.
1. Connect With the IRS Online
One of the best ways to get the information you need is directly from the IRS website at IRS.gov. You can download almost any form or publication here. You'll find a lot of information right at your fingertips, including answers to frequently asked questions, tax law changes, and even planning calculators. It's not a substitute for talking directly with a tax expert, but the site can point you in the right direction when you need answers to basic tax questions.
As for that tax refund you're expecting, there's a special tool available to track its status, too. Just go to "Where's My Refund?" and click on "Check My Refund Status."
The IRS strongly advises using its electronic options for help.
2. Contact the IRS by Phone
The next best option is the telephone if you need to get in touch with the IRS but don't have a computer handy. The IRS provides a few toll-free numbers to assist you, depending on your circumstance:
- 800-829-1040 for individuals who have questions about anything related to personal taxes, available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time
- 800-829-4933 for businesses with tax-related questions, available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time
- 877-829-5500 for nonprofit tax questions, available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time
- 866-699-4083 for estate and gift tax questions, available from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Eastern time
- 866-699-4096 for excise tax questions, available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time
- 800-919-9835 for taxpayers who contact the IRS concerning the Economic Impact Payment (stimulus checks)
- 800-829-4059 for taxpayers who are hearing impaired, no time restrictions
You can also contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) for tax questions that you can't resolve. Its website provides a tool to help you find an office in your state, along with contact information. All in-person locations remain closed as of November 2021, but you can reach out by phone at 877-777-4778.
Wait times on the phone can be long, especially during the tax season months of February, March, and April. You might want to try calling during the early morning hours.
3. Correspond With the IRS by Mail
The IRS advises against it on its website, but you can still mail your paper tax forms and payments if you have no other option. And you can send letters via snail mail as well—stamped and mailed correspondence—if you don't mind waiting a while for a response.
The best way to get in touch with IRS personnel by mail is to contact the director for your local IRS district or your local Taxpayer Assistance Center. You should allow at least 30 days for a response. It may take 45 days or longer.
Remember that mailing your tax return can delay the processing of your refund. Expect to wait several weeks for your refund to be issued by paper check. It's more likely to take three weeks or less if you e-file and choose to receive your refund by direct deposit.
4. Visit Your Local IRS Office
The IRS maintains a network of local offices known as Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs), where you can go to ask questions and get service. You can visit the IRS website to search for a Taxpayer Assistance Center office near you.
The IRS began reopening TACs in June 2020, but you can still only visit with an appointment as of late 2021. Call 844-545-5640 to find out whether your nearest TAC is open and to reserve a time slot.
You can use the IRS website listing to determine the hours and policies of your preferred center. Multilingual service is available in every office.
Again, be prepared for a wait if you're headed to a local IRS office during peak tax season. You might want to check every online avenue available to find the assistance you need first.
5. Submit IRS Forms by Fax
The IRS put an end to faxing and mailing tax transcripts in June 2019. Receiving forms and instructions by fax isn't the best way to transmit sensitive information, but you can still fax some documentation.
Fax to the number listed on your CP06 audit notice if you have to transmit required supporting documentation during an audit of your tax return.
Get in Touch if You Can't Pay
Reach out to the IRS immediately if you owe a tax bill and you aren't able to pay it in full. You should file your return promptly by the filing deadline and pay as much as you can at that time. The IRS might then help you work out an installment agreement to pay the balance over time.
You can easily apply for an installment agreement online. This quick communication can help minimize penalties and interest on what you owe.
- The IRS provides Taxpayer Assistance Centers and Taxpayer Advocate Services all over the country, but many are still operating on reduced hours or by appointment only due to COVID. Call ahead or check online to make sure of the status of your local office.
- The IRS is a big supporter of internet technology, and it urges taxpayers to check its website before trying other options because you might well find your answers there.
- You can call the IRS as well. It provides multiple phone numbers depending on the purpose of your call.