What Can You Do When the IRS Won’t Answer the Phone?

It’s never been easy to call the IRS, but it’s gotten even worse lately. If you keep calling the IRS and no one ever answers, here’s what you can do.

Try the Where’s My Refund tool.

The IRS lets you check your refund status online. You can see basic information like when to expect your refund or whether it’s on hold.

In many cases, the tool will make it clear that you just need to wait a little longer. Calling the IRS won’t make it go faster unless they’ve already told you they need more information.

Respond in writing when possible.

When you get a letter or notice from the IRS, respond in writing when possible. It takes much less time to write a letter than to sit on hold with the IRS. Once your response is in, it will be handled in the order the IRS received it.

Call at a different time.

The IRS operates its phone lines from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in each time zone. The best times to call are right when they open or right before they close. The busiest times are during lunchtime and when people start to get off work.

When the phone lines are really busy, there can be a little bit of luck involved in getting through as well. The IRS can only handle so many people calling at once. The IRS is normally busiest during tax filing season. Special issues that affect large numbers of people, like the stimulus payments or advanced child tax credit, can also overwhelm the IRS phone lines.

Know your tax professional doesn’t work for the IRS.

Tax professionals don’t work for the IRS. They get information about your tax situation based on what you give them, when they call the IRS, or when they pull up your IRS tax transcript.

Tax professionals may have a slightly easier time getting through to the IRS on the phone or using a special tool they have to get your tax transcript. However, they will usually charge you for this time.

If you’re just trying to get information from the IRS, it’s usually best to contact the IRS directly.

Try using IRS online services.

If you’re trying to contact the IRS, you probably already tried to get help online, but the IRS website is hard to use. You may not have known the following services are available online.

  • Set up a payment plan
  • Get a record of your payments and tax details
  • Make a payment
  • File your tax return
  • View your account information

Try your local IRS office.

If you’ve been having trouble contracting the IRS, try scheduling an appointment at your local IRS office. The level of assistance they can provide is similar to what you can get on the phone. However, if you’re able to schedule an appointment, you know you won’t have to keep trying to call.

The IRS office near you can often help with

  • Tax credits
  • Online accounts
  • Individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) renewals
  • Identity theft assistance
  • Making payments (check or money order, no cash)
  • Setting up a payment plan
  • Refunds
  • Obtaining tax transcripts
  • Filling out tax forms
  • Basic tax information (but can’t provide advice)

If you need assistance in a foreign language or using sign language, be sure to mention this when you schedule your appointment.

Contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service.

The Taxpayer Advocate Service is a special office in the IRS that helps taxpayers who believe they’ve been treated unfairly or not provided with an appropriate level of service. This would include not being able to get in to touch with the IRS after multiple attempts.

However, even the Taxpayer Advocate Service is getting overwhelmed with requests since so many people are having trouble dealing with the IRS right now.

Write to your Congressman or Senator.

There are two things your Congressman or Senator can do if you’re having trouble dealing with the IRS. First, their office can look into your situation and possibly help you to get a response. Second, if they hear from enough angry voters, they have the ability to do things like make sure the IRS has enough resources or to get people who aren’t doing their jobs fired.