Contacting the IRS FAQs 


    We have received many questions from members regarding how/when to contact the IRS – from what number to call or what information to include on all written correspondence, to best practices on how to interact with IRS agents.

    Look no further! Below are answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) to help you address a plethora of issues by corresponding with the IRS in the most efficient and effective manner.

    1. What number should I call to address my client's IRS issue? 
    2. Is there a time of day that I should call the IRS to reduce call wait times? 
    3. When calling the IRS, what should I document?
    4. When calling the IRS, must I have power or attorney authorization (Form 2848) to address my client's issue?
    5. What types of IRS matters may I address over the phone?
    6. When writing to the IRS to address a notice, what should I include in my correspondence?
    7. What is e-Services and when should I use this tool to obtain client IRS information?
    8. What is the Online Payment Agreement tool, and when should I use it?
    9. My client is in an audit, what tips and best practices should I follow when interacting with the agent?
    10. My client's IRS matter cannot seem to be resolved, should I contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service, and if so, how do I do this?

     
    1. What number should I call to address my client's IRS issue?

    If your client received a notice, it will list a phone number (and sometimes a person to contact). Call that number/person to address the specific notice. Keep in mind that most client issues may be addressed by calling the Practitioner Priority Service (PPS) line at (866) 860-4259, and selecting the appropriate option. Be sure to listen to the full list of options before making your selection, as you may need to reach a specific department depending on your client’s situation. The PPS line is designed to help you as a practitioner and should be used often to address IRS matters. 

    For a list of other common hotlines such as the Identity Protection Specialized Unit, view our IRS Hotlines Quick Reference Chart.

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    2. Is there a time of day that I should call the IRS to reduce call wait times?

    Due to budget cuts and the retirement of various e-Services tools, unfortunately taxpayers and tax professionals have experienced an increase in call wait times. However, many of our members have found decreased call wait times by calling early in the morning (first thing when they arrive in the office).

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    3. When calling the IRS, what should I document?

    You should always jot down the name of the IRS agent with whom you speak, along with his or her badge identification number. Keeping this information in your file is a best practice – you never know when you may need to reference the information provided to you by an agent. Also, keep brief notes of everything you discuss, and any next steps/deadlines. Often the agent will give you information that you’ll need to track (for example, a date by which your client must make a payment to the IRS to avoid a collection action).

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    4. When calling the IRS, must I have power of attorney authorization (Form 2848) to address my client’s issue?

    You do not necessarily need a valid Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, to assist with your client’s issue. However, Form 2848 is needed if you want to represent your client in any way (such as verbally requesting penalty abatement over the phone).

    Often Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization, is all that is needed to address your client’s issue. This type of authorization allows you to request and receive client account information over the phone (such as IRS transcripts). Plus, Form 8821 is nice in that (1) you take on less responsibility than power of attorney authorization and (2) if you list your firm’s name as the appointee, anyone in your office may call the IRS and obtain client information. This may enable you to pass down some of the non-technical work to less experienced (lower billing rate) staff.

    For more guidance on authorizations, view our IRS Authorizations Quick Reference Chart.

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    5. What types of IRS matters may I address over the phone?

    You may address many client issues over the phone, such as:

    • Request a payment agreement such as an installment agreement or short-term extension of time to pay (Form 2848 authorization required).
    • Request penalty abatement (Form 2848 authorization required). Typically, the IRS can remove certain penalties based on a taxpayer's clean compliance history (known as first-time penalty abatement. To qualify, your client must not have any penalties added to or removed from their account for the past three year, and must be up-to-date on tax returns and payments. If your client meets the requirements, the IRS agent should quickly confirm qualification and abate the penalties over the phone. Note that the IRS typically requires a written penalty abatement request due to reasonable cause.
    • Request transcripts (Form 2848 of Form 8821 authorization required). The agent can usually fax these to you fairly quickly, depending on the length of the transcript. If the transcript contains a large number of pages, the agent will likely mail the information or refer you to e-Services to download a copy.
    • Address account issues/questions (Form 2848 or Form 8821 authorization required). For example, you may simply need to know how the IRS is crediting a specific payment to your client's account. Simple issues like this can easily be addressed over the phone.

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    6. When writing to the IRS to address a notice, what should I include in my correspondence?

    When responding to an IRS notice, you should always include the taxpayer’s name and identification number, notice number, notice date, tax year/period, and tax form number (attach a copy of the notice to the response). Then, clearly explain your client’s position and provide answers to the IRS’ questions. Attach enough supporting documents, where appropriate. It is advisable to number each page you provide to the IRS, and write your client’s name and identification number on each subsequent page and any attachments. That way, if pages get separated, the IRS should be able to easily assemble the response. Finally, if you are your client’s power of attorney representative (Form 2848 authorization), include a signed copy of that authorization form with your correspondence so the agent who reads the response will easily know to contact you with questions.

    For more guidance, visit our IRS Notices Guidance & Resources webpage.

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    7. What is e-Services and when should I use this tool to obtain client IRS information?

    IRS e-Services is a suite of web-based tools that allow eligible tax professionals to complete certain transactions online, such as requesting and receiving client transcripts via the Transcript Delivery System (TDS).

    Once registered with e-Services, this tool can provide a valuable way to quickly receive transcripts, allowing you to reconcile various account issues.

    For more guidance on e-Services, visit our IRS E-Services webpage.

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    8. What is the Online Payment Agreement tool, and when should I use it?

    The Online Payment Agreement (OPA) is a website tool practitioners (and taxpayers) can use to apply for certain types of payment agreements with the IRS. The two types of agreements eligible for this tool are short-term extensions of time to pay and monthly payment plans (i.e., installment agreements).

    For more guidance on the OPA tool, visit our IRS Online Payment Agreement Tool webpage.

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    9. My client is in an audit, what tips and best practices should I follow when interacting with the agent?

    First, always be cooperative and cordial with the agent. Provide the specific items requested and try to answer all questions completely. The assigned agent will provide your client with an Information Document Request (IDR) that outlines the items that he or she needs to review. You should provide these items in an organized manner (often in a notebook or a binder) with a table of contents. The quicker the agent can review the items requested, the sooner the audit can be closed (and potentially a more favorable outcome will result). If the agent needs to see additional items, request that he or she provide a new IDR to you.

    Additionally, if there are any items reported on the return that may be a “gray area” of tax law (that is, the law may be unclear or there is a potential debate in interpretation), if these items come up during the audit, provide the agent with a print-out of your research (Code, regulations, court cases, etc.). A compelling argument that is supported by tax law can help your client have a favorable outcome.

    Note that at times the agent may ask you a question of which you are unsure. Stating “I’ll get back to you on that” is always an acceptable response. Taking the time to answer a question completely and accurately will benefit your client.

    For more guidance on audits and representation work, visit our Representation & Examinations resources page.

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    10. My client’s IRS matter cannot seem to be resolved, should I contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service, and if so, how do I do this?

    The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) may be an excellent option if you have tried to resolve your client’s matters through normal IRS channels, with no resolution. TAS offers free help and can often expedite resolution of issues such as identity theft, collection matters, and audits.

    Select your state on the map shown on the IRS’ webpage to find the phone number and address of the TAS office nearest you. You may also call (877) 777-4778, and/or file Form 911, Request for Taxpayer Advocate Service Assistance. Note that the TAS does not accept all cases, and must prioritize cases based on taxpayer urgency and need.

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