Not too long ago, I wrote about how the Internal Revenue Service communicates with taxpayers. On the flip side of that it is important for taxpayers to communicate correctly with the IRS.
The IRS number to call to ask general tax questions is 1-800-829-1040.
Now, as this is an automated system, it is important that if you want to speak to a live person that you listen carefully to the options.
If you have an issue with your refund and need to speak directly to an agent, do not press the options about refund as you will be directed to the refund automated system.
Listen carefully to the selections.
To speak with a live agent, wait to hear the option to discuss your account, which will direct you to someone with whom you will actually get to discuss your issue.
Expect to wait. Most times, the wait can be more than 30 minutes.
The best time to call is early in the morning on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Mondays are especially hard to speak with someone without a very long wait.
Don't be surprised to hear that you should call back at another time.
When speaking with the IRS agent, the agent will give you his/her identification number. Write this number down. If arrangements are made during this call, having this number will help to verify information discussed.
Unfortunately, there have been times that information discussed hasn't been updated in the IRS's system. This is usually caused by computer issues.
The agent's are normally very good about updating information, but there have been occasions that this has not occurred. Documenting the agent's identification and information agreed upon can help when additional letters are received.
Have your personal information ready.
If you are asking about a tax return filed, have that tax return available to reference.
You will need to know the Social Security numbers and birthdates of everyone on the return.
If your address has changed since you filed the last tax return, know what address was used on the tax return filed.
The IRS uses this information to verify you are the actual taxpayer.
If you received a letter from the IRS, there will be a specific number in the upper right corner to speak with someone about the letter.
Using this number will help you to talk with a live person.
Again, however, expect to wait. Have the letter available to reference.
When mailing information to the IRS, always send it certified with a signature response.
This is especially important when you are close to a deadline.
There are many times that taxpayers are unable to get a refund on an amended return because they are unable to prove that the information was sent prior to the deadline.
By mailing it certified, you have proof that the information was sent prior to the cutoff date.
Following these guidelines can help resolve issues with the IRS more efficiently and remember the words of Fulton J. Sheen: "Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is "timing" it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way."
Tracy Bunner is an enrolled agent and tax preparer with an office in Harrisville. She can be reached at 801-686-1995 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.