When you need to contact the IRS, several methods are open to you. Many self-service options are available on their website, or you can call the IRS tax help phone number. You can also send the IRS a letter, send an email, or visit a local taxpayer assistance center.
You should be prepared when you call the IRS. To protect your identity, the call center staff will ask you for certain information to prove who you are. They are only allowed to discuss personal information with you or your legally designated representative. Before you make your call, you should have the following information available:
Call center representatives are generally available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time, Monday through Friday. The number to call and hours of business should be at the top of any communications you have received.
During the filing season, from January through April, the average wait time can be around 15 minutes. In the post-filing season, from May through December, the waiting time averages 27 minutes. The service is generally busier on Monday and Tuesday. The numbers for general inquiries are as follows:
If you are calling to check the status of your federal tax refund, in addition to the information above, you will need the exact whole-dollar figure for what you are owed. You should leave enough time after filing for your return to be processed before calling.
You can email for general information, but because of the need to protect your security, the IRS will not answer personal tax questions by email. When you use the email address, you should not include any personal information. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have received your tax bill and are worried that you can’t pay it, the worst thing to do is nothing. You should call the IRS and explain your circumstances. The IRS may be willing to work out an agreement that will enable you to pay your back taxes. In some cases, your tax liability could be reduced or collection could be temporarily delayed.
If you are not confident about dealing with the IRS on your own, you could seek the advice of a qualified tax professional who can work on your behalf to help you to settle your back taxes. Depending on your individual circumstances, the following options may be available to you:
When you are unable to pay the full amount of your tax liability in a lump sum, you can ask the IRS to establish an agreement for you to pay off your back taxes by monthly installments. The agreement allows you to pay off your taxes over a period of time of up to 72 months. You can pay the installments in a variety of ways, but agreeing to pay by direct debit greatly reduces the agreement setup fee.
If you are an individual owing less than $50,000 or a business owing less than $25,000, you can apply online. For back tax amounts exceeding those amounts, you will need to file an Installment Agreement Request form and a detailed Collection Information Statement.
Another alternative is a short-term agreement, which you may be eligible for if you owe less than $100,000 and you can pay the full amount within 120 days. There is no setup fee for this option, and you can establish your request online or by calling the IRS tax helpline.
While you are paying off your liability, late payment fees will be applied to the balance, and interest charges will be incurred on the outstanding balance.
The IRS will always attempt to collect the full amount of your back taxes where possible. However, the IRS might agree to accept a lesser amount if it is the most the IRS could expect to collect in a reasonable period of time. Acceptance of your offer in compromise will depend on a full financial disclosure which will establish the following:
When your financial situation is such that paying your taxes would cause you undue financial hardship, the IRS may report your back taxes as currently not collectible. When it believes that it won’t be able to collect your back taxes in the foreseeable future, the IRS can suspend collection actions against you.
The back taxes will not go away, late payment penalties will continue to be added, and interest will still be applied to the outstanding balance. If your financial circumstances improve, you will have to pay the increased liability.
Certain individuals may be eligible for an extension of time to pay with no late payment penalties. This would only apply if paying your back taxes by the due date would cause you to suffer severe financial loss.
A decision to request any of the above back tax assistance options should not be taken lightly. Solvable can connect you with tax professionals and back tax assistance providers who will advise you on the best back tax assistance option for your personal circumstances.