How to talk to a human at the IRS from Mashable

In the tax filing process, there are few tasks that feel as daunting as talking to a human at the Internal Revenue Service.

Taxpayers who contact the IRS continue to experience long wait times, according to the 2023 annual report published by the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent organization housed by the IRS.

But in some cases, you must reach an agent with a complex question about your filing, or to get more information in order to successfully complete your return.

The good news is that much of what you may need is online, via the IRS’ website or its app IRS2Go. The IRS’ interactive tax assistant search tool can answer anonymous questions about several tax laws that are specific to your circumstances.

The IRS’ refund tracker also tells taxpayers what phase their return is in once it’s been filed and 24 hours have elapsed. If there’s a problem with your refund that requires you to contact the IRS, the refund status checker will let you know to do so.

If you can’t find the answer to your question via the IRS website or app, you can call the agency directly or visit a local IRS office. Here is a step-by-step guide to doing both:

1. Call the IRS.

You can contact the IRS via phone about your personal return by calling 1-800-829-1040. This phone line is staffed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time.

According to the IRS, wait times can average four minutes, though some callers may experience longer wait times, particularly on Monday and Tuesday and around the April deadline to file your taxes. (When Mashable called on a recent Wednesday afternoon, the wait time was an estimated 15 to 30 minutes.)

In your search for information about how to speak to a human at the IRS, you may encounter websites unaffiliated with the IRS that present a phone tree with detailed directions on which prompts to select.

Mashable is not offering similar directions because the phone tree selections may change over time. However, it’s crucial to listen closely to each prompt as there are several based on your needs.

For example, asking about a refund is a separate prompt from questions related to your personal taxes. The same is true if you have questions about taxes related to health care law.

When listening to the selections, be sure you’re not multitasking; it’ll be easy to miss your prompt or get confused. Also, set aside uninterrupted time and prepare for a longer waiting period. You don’t want to go through the trouble of calling and navigating the phone tree only to realize you don’t have enough time to wait for an agent.

2. Visit a local IRS office.

The IRS has local offices across the country where you can speak directly to an agent. You can find the nearest location to you by searching the IRS’ Taxpayer Assistance Center Office Locator tool.

The number of offices varies from state to state. In Arkansas, for example, there are three offices, one each in Fayetteville, Jonesboro, and Little Rock. In California, however, there are 28 locations, including a few in the Los Angeles area.

Services typically provided at local offices include account inquiries, basic individual tax law assistance, and payment arrangements. Call the location closest to you in advance to schedule an appointment. Be sure you arrive to the appointment prepared with documents, including a current government-issued photo ID, a taxpayer identification number (like a Social Security number), and any tax documents.

While an in-person visit to a local IRS office may not be possible for every taxpayer, it may be the right solution for those who can access a location and want to talk face-to-face with someone who can answer their questions.

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