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What questions will the IRS answer over the phone?

Confused by withholding changes or how the IRS is going to treat prepaid property taxes? You are not alone, Nina Olson the National Taxpayer Advocate has reported that these are common questions.

She predicts that the Service is not prepared to answer questions that relate to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. What can an IRS agent answer for you after you wait and listen to hold music?

Limited scope

You can probably expect an answer to a “basic” tax question.

If contacted by the IRS via letter, you generally will not get an answer to specific tax law questions by calling customer service. An agent may however outline basic provisions, which can sometimes help you determine whether to seek professional advice.

Increased call volumes

After any major tax reform legislation the IRS receives more calls from taxpayers with questions. For example, calls increased 125 percent after Congress passed the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008.

The best time to call the IRS is usually in the morning. Customer service hours are 7 am to 7 pm local time. Wait times average 15 minutes, but can be much longer depending on the volume of calls. Mondays and Tuesdays as well as the weeks around President’s Day have longer wait times.

The future

Olson recommends that the IRS look toward an “omnichannel” approach that would include telephone service and online requests. This would ensure that all channels of communication remain “alive, active and interconnected.” It may be some time before this becomes a reality.

When pressing tax questions arise, speaking with a tax lawyer is often a better way to get a timely answer and sound advice.

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