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Got Tax Return Questions? Do These Things Before You Call the IRS

IRS wait times are only going to get longer the closer you get to the April 18 tax return filing deadline.

The IRS can answer tax questions by phone, but you'll need to be patient.
Angela Lang/CNET

We're in peak tax return filing season, and many taxpayers who have questions about their tax return are waiting on hold to speak with an IRS representative. Those wait times are only going to get longer the closer we get to that April 18 filing deadline. There are plenty of better ways you could be spending your day than waiting on hold to get a tax question answered, don't you agree?  

Last year, only about 13% of callers reached an IRS employee, according to The Washington Post. Acting IRS Commissioner Doug O'Donnell told the Post that, after adding more than 5,000 tax assisters and in-person staffers, the agency expects to see improvements this tax season. Still, keep in mind that the average phone wait time will only get longer as Tax Day approaches. 

Raphael Tulino, an IRS representative, underlined the importance of finding answers through online resources: "It's IRS.gov, IRS.gov and IRS.gov first before you call." 

The IRS has about 600 local offices around the country as well as staffing a toll-free hotline. You may be able to answer some of your tax questions with online resources too: The IRS has a tool called the Interactive Tax Assistant that walks you through various inquiries to help you determine whether your income is taxable, whom you can claim as a dependent and what your filing status is. 

If you want to track the status of your tax refund, you can do so by visiting the IRS's Get Refund Status tool. Lastly, be sure to create your own online IRS account -- you can also use that account to get info about your prior year's tax return.

If you've gone through all the online options and still haven't solved your problem, we'll tell you how to contact the IRS by phone or make an appointment in person at a local office. For more tax info, here are all the tax credits and deductions you can get for your home in 2023. And if you received a tax rebate last year, the IRS said you may want to wait to file.

Call this IRS phone number to ask about tax refunds and more

Before you make a call to the IRS, note that the call volumes are high and you may have to wait a long time to speak with a representative. During April, the IRS says that wait times are higher on Mondays, and the best time to call during the day is before 10 a.m.

To get started, call 800-829-1040 to reach the tax agency about an issue you're having with your taxes. Make sure you have the following information on hand to verify your identification.

  • Your Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
  • Your birthdate
  • Filing status: single, head of household, married filing joint or married filing separate

Got a specific tax question? There's a hotline for that 

Streamline your call to the IRS by calling one of the many IRS phone numbers that address a specific question or topic. 

IRS numbers to call

Purpose Number
Scheduling an appointment with the IRS 844-545-5640
Locating free tax clinic near you 800-906-9887
Taxpayer Advocate Service 877-777-4778
Interpretation services for Spanish speakers 800-829-1040
Interpretation services for other languages 833-553-9895
Deaf or hard of hearing assistance 800-829-4059
IRS Disaster Hotline 866-562-5227
Requesting IRS to mail paper tax forms 800-829-3676
Ordering a tax transcript 800-908-9946
Checking status of a tax refund 800-829-1954
Self-employed taxpayer assistance 800-829-4933
Reporting phishing or tax scams 800-366-4484
Estate and gift tax law questions 800-829-1040
Victims of identity theft assistance 800-908-4490
Checking status of amended tax return 866-464-2050

Complex tax topics the IRS won't discuss on the phone

There are a few topics the IRS does not discuss on the phone. The list of complex tax topics includes: 

  • Business, sale and depreciation 
  • Capital gains and losses 
  • Commuting
  • Corporations, exempt organizations and partnerships 
  • Education 
  • Health care 
  • International 
  • Rentals and residential
  • Trusts 
  • Specific forms 

It might be in your best interest to make an in-person appointment with a representative instead of searching online for your answer to one of these topics. 

How to set up an in-person appointment with an IRS representative

The IRS has many offices across the US, and if there's one near you, you can make an appointment to speak with someone in person. Here's how to schedule a meeting.

1. Head to the IRS Taxpayer Assistance Tool page and enter your ZIP code. Tap Search.

2. Choose the location nearest to you and select Make Appointment.

3. Call the appointment phone number for the office you want to visit.

4. When you go to your local branch, make sure to bring a government-issued photo ID and your ITIN or Social Security number.