This Is a Lousy Time to Call the IRS for Help. Do This Instead

A man looks annoyed as he waits on the phone with his laptop in his lap.
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We’re getting into the thick of tax season, but this is a lousy time to call the IRS. You’ll be on hold forever.

The two weeks after Presidents Day weekend are definitely not when you want to call the IRS for help. It’s so bad that the IRS actually put out a news alert about this. They really want you to go online instead of calling.

“Presidents Day weekend, when many people prepare their taxes, historically marks a peak period for IRS phone lines,” the IRS said. “During the two-week February period following Presidents Day, the IRS recommends turning first to the self-help tools available online on to avoid delays.”

And what are those tools? We’ll tell you all about them.

Pro Tip

Feeling overwhelmed? If you're worried about making mistakes, we recommend using tax software like H&R Block, TurboTax or TaxAct.

Use the IRS’ Online Tools Instead of Calling

Calling the IRS can often be an exercise in frustration anyway.

“The tax agency’s record of answering calls is dismal,” The Washington Post reported. “Last year, only about 13 percent of callers reached an IRS employee.”

The IRS says things should be better this year now that it’s added 5,000 staffers. But you should still see if you can get your answers online before calling.

Here is the IRS’ main page for all these online tools. And here are some of the main ones:

Interactive Tax Assistant: This useful tool can walk you through figuring out what income is taxable, what your filing status is and whom you can claim as a dependent.

Get Refund Status: When will your refund money arrive? This tool will track the status of your tax refund.

Taxpayer Assistance Tool: This can help you set up an appointment to speak with an IRS representative in person.

IRS Free File portal: You can file federal taxes for free if you’re eligible. This service is available to filers who earned $73,000 or less in 2022, and the page also links to free fillable tax forms for earners at all levels.

Pro Tip

Here’s where to get free tax help for seniors.

If You Have to Call

This year, the deadline for filing your 2022 federal tax returns is Tuesday, April 18. If you really want to talk to someone in the IRS on the phone before then, here are a few things to keep in mind:

The IRS’ toll-free number is 800-829-1040 if you’re trying to reach them about an issue with your taxes.

Be prepared to wait on hold for a while — potentially for a long time.

Here’s some information from the IRS about what kinds of things you can call the toll-free number to ask about.

The IRS says wait times are highest on Mondays, and the best time to call is before 10 a.m. The early bird gets the worm!

Mike Brassfield (mi[email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.