What Is the IRS Phone Number to Talk to a Person?

Tax refunds. Tax payments owed. Stimulus checks. There are many reasons to call the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and while the automated system is set up to answer many common tax-related questions, not all tax problems can be handled by a computer.

When you have tax-related issues the automated system can’t answer, you can find a roundabout way to reach a live IRS agent.

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that wait times are usually long. IRS customer service representatives have heavy workloads; they received about 73 million calls in the 2022 filing season. As you can imagine, that creates an environment where reaching a live person at the IRS can be difficult. But it can be done. 

Table of Contents
  1. How to Reach a Live Person at the IRS
    1. Call the Main Federal IRS Phone Number
    2. Call Your Local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center
  2. When Is the Best Time to Call the IRS?
  3. How to Have a Productive Phone Call with the IRS
    1. What Information Should I Have Ready Before I Call?
    2. Don’t Forget to Document the Call
  4. Other IRS Phone Numbers
  5. Tax Issues You Can Resolve on the IRS Website
  6. Watch Out for IRS Phone Scams
  7. Conclusion

How to Reach a Live Person at the IRS

When you need to speak to a real person at the IRS, you’ve got two options. 

You can access an agent via the main federal phone number or, if you’re not having much luck that way, you can also try contacting one of the local Taxpayer Assistance Centers.

Call the Main Federal IRS Phone Number

Your first option is to call the main IRS phone number. That number is 1-800-829-1040.

When you call the IRS, here’s what you will hear:

  1. You’ll get a prompt to choose your language.
  2. From there, you’ll be asked what your call is about. If you’re calling about your tax return, do NOT choose option 1 to find out about your tax refund. Doing so will ensure you’re transferred to another automated system. Instead, choose option 2, for personal income taxes.
  3. Press “1” for “form, tax history, or payment.”
  4. Press “3” for all other questions.
  5. Press “2” for all other questions.
  6. You’ll be asked to enter your Social Security or Tax ID number. Don’t enter anything.
  7. After it asks two times, you’ll get another menu.
  8. Press “2” for individual tax questions.
  9. Press “4” to be transferred to an agent.

You should then be transferred to the “live person” phone queue. I realize this is a long process, but it’s the fastest way to speak to a real person when calling the main number of the IRS.

Call Your Local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center

Along with the main federal IRS number, local IRS offices are also in many cities. Sometimes, contacting your local Taxpayer Assistance Center can be faster than calling the federal number.

However, expect long wait times when calling your local IRS office as well.

To find the number for your local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center, go to this webpage. Local offices have taxpayer advocates who make appointments for residents needing tax help.

When Is the Best Time to Call the IRS?

Normal IRS hours are from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time. But as you can imagine, the phone lines light up pretty quickly. Rumor has it that the very best time to contact the IRS is from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Fridays. Most people are ready to be done with responsible tasks for the week and are getting ready to relax.

If you can’t call on a Friday after 5 p.m., try to call the IRS between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. on weekdays. This is another time when the phones might not be quite as busy.

How to Have a Productive Phone Call with the IRS

You’ve called at the right time, you’ve gone through the automated systems, and after probably a very long wait, you’ve finally reached someone. Congrats! But to make the most of your call, you’ll want to make sure you’re well-prepared before picking up the phone and dialing.

What Information Should I Have Ready Before I Call?

Once you have an IRS representative on the line, you won’t want to waste your time or theirs. For that reason, be certain you have all the necessary information available, such as:

  • Social Security Number (SSN) and/or Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)
  • Birth date
  • The tax returns you’re calling about
  • Any letters or other documentation from the IRS
  • Your prior year’s tax return

Having all the information you need ready will help your call go faster and smoother.

Don’t Forget to Document the Call

When you do reach a live person at the IRS, it’s important to document your call for your own records. Keep any important documents and notes about the calls in one place, so you have an organized file of everything. This will help if there are problems down the road. If you need to meet with a lawyer or tax professional, you will be able to bring them up to speed easily. 

Here’s how to make sure you document everything correctly:

  1. Write down the date, time, and full name of the agent you spoke to. Every IRS phone agent is required to give their full name when you call.
  2. Write down the information you’re given. Record the call with your phone so you have additional proof (if permitted by law). The IRS does record the calls that come in but it would be nice to have your own copy if you ever need it. 
  3. Once you feel as if you have the information you need, repeat it back to them so you can be sure you understand what you need to do or what you’re being told. In other words, clarify and verify the information you hear. This is simply another way to check and recheck for verification purposes.

Tax issues can be complicated, confusing, and stressful, so be sure you are 100% clear on what you need to do before you get off the phone. 

Other IRS Phone Numbers

The information above is for questions about personal income taxes. Here are some of the other IRS numbers you may want to note, depending on your tax questions:

  • For businesses: 1-800-829-4933
  • For non-profit taxes: 1-877-829-5500
  • For estate and gift taxes: 1-866-699-4083
  • For excise taxes: 1-866-699-4096
  • For callers who are hearing impaired (TTY/TDD): 1-800-829-4059

If you’re calling from overseas, you’ll need to check the international page of the IRS website.

Tax Issues You Can Resolve on the IRS Website

Depending on your tax question or issue, you may not need to call the IRS. Here are some things that you can do online via IRS.gov, without having to wait on hold to speak to someone:

  • Make a payment or set up a payment plan
  • Get a tax transcript
  • Check on your tax refund
  • File your tax return online
  • View your account

There’s also an online interactive tax assistant that may be able to answer some tax law questions. You input your personal information (which will not be stored and remains anonymous), and the system gives you an answer.

Before you call the IRS and get stuck waiting for a real person, it may be worth checking if the auto system can help you out.

Watch Out for IRS Phone Scams

Unfortunately, far too many people fall victim to shady scammers pretending to be with the IRS. These characters will typically contact you with threatening messages about your supposed tax debt and demand payment immediately.

Don’t fall for it! The IRS will never contact you by email, text, or social media to request personal financial information. Nor will they contact you by phone or email demanding immediate payment. If you do owe taxes, you’ll likely receive a bill in the mail from the IRS — in fact, pretty much all IRS correspondence will begin via regular mail, delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.

According to the IRS, there are several ways to spot whether someone is impersonating an IRS agent:

  • If they demand immediate payment
  • If they demand you pay your taxes in a specific way
  • If they ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone
  • If they threaten to have you arrested or to take other legal action

Most importantly, if you haven’t already received a notice in the mail, then it’s probably not the IRS contacting you.

You can report scammers to the U.S. Treasury’s tax fraud hotline website or by calling 1-800-366-4484. 

Conclusion

People need to contact the IRS and speak to a real person for several reasons. If the federal number isn’t giving you what you need, try the local IRS office to speak to someone or even set up an appointment to meet with an advocate. Calling early in the morning or after 5 p.m. will help shorten your wait times. 

Documenting the details from your call will help you if further action is needed.

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About Laurie Blank

Laurie Blank is a blogger, freelance writer, and mother of four. She’s psyched about teaching others how to manage their money in a way that aligns with their values and has been quoted in Bankrate.

She's a licensed Realtor with Edina Realty in Minneapolis, Minnesota (also licensed in Wisconsin too) and has been freelance writing for over six years.

She shares powerful insights on her blog, Great Passive Income Ideas, that will show you how you can create passive income sources of your own.

Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank or financial institution. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  1. Stephen says

    Unfortunately after going through all these gyrations over and over again (20 times at least) I end up at the same point. “Due to high call volumes we cannot answer your call at this time…..” This is an extreme PITA. In the past they would gladly keep you on hold for 1-2 hours and then kindly hang up on you.

    The IRS still has not provided any feedback on my 2019 e-filed refund that was filed at the end of March. In August I received a letter requesting the documents that were listed for the tax that I paid, in doing so immediately I assumed that the their response would be fairly prompt. Estimating 2-3 months understanding their overload. Yet nothing. This is completely unacceptable.

    Now how am I supposed to file my taxes in 2021 when my 2019 refund of $4K has not yet been resolved, no one is available to discuss it and questions they may have, and the no longer have a site to visit to find the status since they are deep into 2020 returns.

    Charles P. Rettig, Commissioner of Internal Revenue, should be canned immediately along with Erin M. Collins, National Taxpayer Advocate as they have totally failed the American taxpayers. With roughly 7 million e-filers and 20+ million paper filers who cannot gain any information regarding their status, questions answered on a missing document or any other pending detail the IRS has failed massively.

  2. Naikee says

    Thank you Laurie, it did work, however, “due to large volume of calls “, it did not go through 🙃😊.

  3. Ralph E. Griffith says

    I guess the IRS got rid of the public relations nightmare of “courtesy disconnects” by completely eliminating the ability to queue calls. Now you get a message that due to high call volumes your call cannot be completed at this time and it drops you off. I would rather wait an hour instead of hoping to call at exactly the correct time when an agent is ready (if there really are any agents helping people).

  4. Brian Lussier says

    The IRS is an absolute nightmare, there is absolutely no way to get into contact with a live person on the phone. Every single number you try bounces you right back out after a recording. There’s no access to information at all if you have questions. All we get is generic statements that solve nothing at all.

  5. Dave Kirby says

    I have tried NUMEROUS times to call the IRS direct using numbers they post but only once got a live person after holding for 30 minutes. In the end he did not answer my question. I’ve tried several local offices but they are not taking phone calls and require in person appts……closest office to me is hour away. My question has to do with my 2019 return which is almost a year old now. Want to know status but can’t get a hold of anyone to discuss.

  6. r h says

    I filed my taxes February 14 for the current year and the prior year, along with a check for taxes owed (less penalties). Received a letter the end of June stating they needed “more information” and couldn’t “verify” me…therefore the last economic stimulus payment and my refund would wait until I called. I couldn’t get through on the number they had on my letter, so I started calling the main tax number. Finally got someone live two weeks later who promptly cut me off and told me I could not set an appointment with them since I “got a letter” and had to call the number on it. Deflated, I went back to trying to call the number, then realized that it said it was ONLY for letters with “XYZ” codes (NOT mine!!). I wish I would have realized this when I had a live person. I can not verify myself online for some reason and we are not allowed to call the local office directly, but must keep looping through this phone recording which says nothing but “due to high call volumes we can’t take your call right now, try again later”. The icing? They can’t pay me the $2500 due because they need to ‘verify’ me…but they cashed “my” check for the tax amount due. I guess I came “verified” when they wanted THEIR MONEY….

  7. Carol says

    10/7/2021
    This was fabulous, thank you so much. Due to Co-Vid, after waiting almost 10 weeks to hear from them I was pretty beside myself; we’re talking about the refund sizable for me. The info person told me to wait another 16 weeks! That makes it Christmas time… Grrr.

    But thank you so much!

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