How to Call the IRS With Tax Return and Child Tax Credit Questions

If you have a tax problem that can't be solved online, you may need to contact the IRS by phone or in person. Learn how to do it.

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

This story is part of Taxes 2022, CNET's coverage of the best tax software and everything else you need to get your return filed quickly, accurately and on-time.

You've got just over two weeks left to submit your tax return to the IRS or file a tax extension. However, if you're having issues with your taxes that you can't solve yourself -- for instance, you lost your W-2 form -- it might be time to contact the IRS. The IRS has about 600 local offices around the country and also staffs a toll-free hotline.

However, before you pick up the phone, be aware of the long call waiting times to speak with someone from the IRS. Also note that the average wait time will only get longer as Tax Day -- April 18 -- approaches. For some tax questions, you may be able to answer your questions with online resources. For example, your child tax credit information can be answered via the IRS' child tax credit portal. Be sure that you create your own online IRS account -- you can also use that account to get info about stimulus payments or 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's how to track your refund through the mail or to your bank account.

Call this IRS phone number to ask about child tax credit payments, tax refunds and more

Before you make a call to the IRS, note that the call volumes are extremely high and you may have to wait a long time to speak with a representative. The IRS says you may be waiting on hold for an average of 13 minutes and that wait times are higher on Monday and Tuesday.

To get started, you can 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 (ITIN)
  • Your birth date
  • Filing status: single, head of household, married filing joint or married filing separate
Now playing: Watch this: Child tax credit: Everything we know

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.

Note that you may need to follow the IRS guidelines for COVID-19 -- for instance, you may be required to wear a mask, maintain social distancing and reschedule your appointment if you feel sick.

For more details, here's why your tax refund might be late this year.