When you call the IRS, the representative can only speak with you or someone you have authorized to speak on their behalf. To make sure that you get the best service, and that you don’t have to call back, be prepared. Here’s what you’ll need to have handy:
- Social Security numbers (SSN) and birth dates for those named on the tax return, or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) if there’s no SSN;
- Your filing status – single, head of household, married filing joint or married filing separate;
- Your prior-year tax returns since the IRS representative may need to verify your identity using information from that return before answering certain questions;
- A copy of the tax return that you’re calling about; and
- Any IRS letters or notices that you’ve received.
If you’re an attorney or other person calling about a third party’s account, be prepared not only to verify your identity, but also to provide information about the third party. Here’s what you’ll need to have handy:
- Authorization to discuss the account, such as a current, completed and signed Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization or completed and signed Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative (remember that if you’re calling to discuss a joint account, you’ll need a signed form from each taxpayer);
- Your Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) if you’re a paid preparer, a PIN if you’re a third-party designee, and your Centralized Authorization File (CAF) number, if applicable; and
- The ability to verify the taxpayer’s name, SSN/ITIN, tax period, for the tax form(s) filed.
It’s my experience that even if you’ve sent a copy of form 2848 in advance, the representative may not be able to pull it as quickly as you can provide it. I always have a copy of form 2848 handy in case I need to send it over and avoid an additional call.
If you’re calling about a deceased taxpayer, you’ll need some additional information. Here’s what you’ll also need to have handy:
- The deceased taxpayer’s death certificate; and
- Copies of Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration showing that you’ve been granted authority to speak about the taxpayer, or federal form 56, Notice Concerning Fiduciary Relationship.
When you call, the IRS representative will tell you their name and their ID number. Have a pen and paper ready to write this down in case you have questions later.
If you require more help than you can get over the phone, you may need in-person assistance. The IRS offers free, in-person help at taxpayer assistance centers (TACs) but you must have an appointment. You can find one near you here.
Just one more thing: Don’t call yet to ask about your refund. Phone and walk-in representatives can only research the status of your refund if at least 21 days have passed since you filed electronically or six weeks after you mailed your paper return (or if Where’s My Refund? directs you to contact the IRS). It’s faster to use the “Where’s My Refund?” tool. Have your Social security number or ITIN, filing status and exact refund amount handy. Refund updates should appear 24 hours after e-filing or four weeks after you mailed your paper return. The IRS updates the site once per day, usually overnight, so there’s no need to check more than once during the day.