Contacting the IRS can seem like an overwhelming task. Likewise, many people feel panic when the IRS initiates contact with them directly. In order to help taxpayers identify legitimate IRS communication and help to fight against phishing attempts, the IRS uses specific channels for communication. You can contact IRS personnel in many different ways, including via telephone, mail, and online services. It is also important to know how the IRS will contact you. Using the IRS’ main communication channels will help ensure your documents are processed properly and can also reduce your risk of falling victim to tax scams.
How do I contact the IRS?
There are two key ways to initiate contact with the IRS if you need to send documents, ask a question, or discuss personal tax matters: by mail and by telephone.
When sending mail to the IRS, always send it with tracking in order to receive dated proof that the documents were received. You can send a certified letter via the United States Postal Service (USPS), or use a private delivery service, such as FedEx or UPS. The IRS website provides a complete list of addresses by state (with or without enclosed payment) to send your paper tax return.
If you’re filing your tax return, you can also use the IRS Free File service to file your taxes online, eliminating the need to mail your return. Filing online, especially this year when the IRS is taking longer to process paper returns due to COVID-19, is typically the best option for secure and speedy processing. Doing so also eliminates the risk of your tax return getting lost in the mail.
To contact the IRS by phone and speak with a live person, check the IRS’ list of phone numbers, which will ensure your call is properly routed. This resource also includes the personal information you will need to provide. Although the telephone representatives can assist with a wide variety of questions and needs, there are also some topics that they will not be able to assist with over the phone.
If you aren’t sure what number to use, you can call the IRS’ general toll-free line from 7 am to 7 pm, Monday through Friday. That number is 1-800-829-1040. Wondering when is the best time to call for lower wait times? A study found that calls between 8 and 9 am ET and after 5 pm PT had the shortest wait times.
If you are checking the status of your tax refund, you can use the online tool Where’s my Refund?, which is provided by the IRS. You will need your Social Security Number or ITIN, your filing status, and the exact refund amount.
If you need to view the amount you owe, payment history, make a payment, or see a general overview of your account you can create or access your online account.
How will the IRS contact me?
The IRS will never initiate contact with a taxpayer via email, text message, or social media channels. If you receive a message via one of these channels claiming to be the IRS, do not respond, click any links, or open any attachments. The mere use of electronic communication claiming to be from the IRS should always be a red flag and prompt you to report a scam.
The official channels that the IRS uses to communicate include mail and phone. If the IRS needs to contact you to send you notices, their first attempts will be via mail. If you do not respond, they do contact taxpayers by phone. However, if you are contacted by phone, do not give out any information without first verifying the contact. You can always call the IRS back directly to ensure you are speaking with the IRS, rather than someone posing as an agent. If you receive a suspicious form, you can search for the form on the IRS website or call the IRS to ask if the notice is fraudulent or real at 1-800-829-1040.
If you receive an unsolicited text message, please forward it to the IRS at 202-552-1226. If you receive an unsolicited email, please forward to the IRS firstname.lastname@example.org. Sharing these messages will help the IRS investigate fraud attempts and protect other taxpayers.
How to recognize phishing and fraud attempts from supposed IRS agents
Phishing is a scam typically carried out through email or websites trying to imitate legitimate sites or organizations; the IRS is a frequent target. Unfortunately, many people fall victim to tax-related phishing scams every year. It is important to know the ways in which the IRS will contact you and never give out personal information.
If anything seems off, do not open or click an email. Many phishing attempts are made by sending emails or text messages urging you to click on a link to review your tax documents and refund, view your tax transcripts, or verify your personal information. Never provide personal information over the phone or through these links, including payment information. To make a payment on a balance due, either mail in tax payment certified mail or use the Make a Payment link on the IRS website. The IRS will never ask you to pay taxes by purchasing gift cards.
Forms and notices that you may receive in the mail can be exact copies of the real forms provided by the IRS but altered by the scammers. The IRS always includes a letter or notice number. If the document you receive does not include one, it is likely fraudulent. Never hesitate to reach out to the IRS if you have concerns or questions regarding the documents that you have received and their authenticity.
Lately scammers are calling taxpayers and demanding they pay a small fee to get their stimulus checks. The government will never require you to pay a fee in order to get your stimulus check.
When in doubt, consult with your CPA, who has been trained to recognize and avoid tax phishing scams. Your CPA will be able to assist you in filing, as well as with responding to any notices that the IRS may send your way. Contact us if you have any questions regarding contact with the IRS.