How Do I Reach a Real Person at the IRS?

I know that it can be hard to reach a real person at the IRS or even your state Department of Revenue. Both from personal experience, but also because I have spent many years being a government auditor. 

During audit meetings with clients, I would get the rundown on how hard it is for my client to reach a real person that can provide them any sort of answers to their questions. And then when they did get a hold of someone, they still had a hard time getting any real answers. 

But let me assure you, it is possible to get in contact with a real person at both the IRS and your state's Department of Revenue.

Before you do sit down to make a call to the IRS or your state's Department of Revenue, there are a few things that you need to do to make sure that you actually do get the best out of your time on the phone with the agent you get to speak with. 

Remember You are Still Talking to a Real Person

First, take a moment to breathe. When you do get a real person on the line, remember they are a real person just like me and you. They also have to follow the same laws and regulations that we do. They have a soul and want to be able to help you with your situation. 

Yes, you may have been trying to days (or weeks) to get a hold of a real person.

Yes, the hold music probably sucks.

And it's normal to try to take your frustration out on this person, but realize that this person you are talking to is going to try to help you and when you allow your anger and frustration to come out in the call, it makes it harder for the IRS agent or state employee to be able help you through your situation in a calm and efficient manner. 

I've personally been on the receiving end of these frustrated and angry calls and every time, I am unable to help the clients simply because they want to take their frustration and anger out on me instead of allowing me to help them. 

I had one client who actually stood there and yelled at for 45 minutes to vent his frustrations. All I could do was stand there and listen to him. As government employees, we are trained to not lose our tempers and return that same frustration to you. But at the end of the audit with this client, he asked if I could be his auditor the next time around.

If you really want to receive help for your situation, then you need to stay calm and remain cognizant that you are talking to another human being who actually wants to help you. 

When speaking with a real person at the IRS, have the necessary documents ready

Next, you want to make sure you have all of your necessary documents available in front of you for this call. 

Those documents can include:

  • Social security numbers and birth dates for anyone you are inquiring about or an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identitifcation Number) if you don't have a Social Security number. 
  • Business license numbers, EINs, sales tax license numbers, as well as official business name, address, and phone number
  • The filing status on your personal return if that is what you are calling about - single, married filing joint, married filing separate, head of household
  • Any letters or notices that you have received from the IRS, the state Department of Revenue, or even your accountant [All letters from the IRS will be signed by a person with the title Revenue Officer, of some sort.]
  • A copy of the return that you are calling about
  • A copy of the prior year's return (your identity will be confirmed and this document is needed to help confirm your identity)
  • Any other documentation that you need to discuss your questions and concerns with the agent you will talk to

If you are calling on behalf of someone else, you will also need the following, as well as all of the above:

  • verbal or written authorization from the third party to discuss their situation
  • A valid Form 8821
  • Your own tax preparer identification number or personal tax identification number

When you are on the phone with an IRS agent or a state employee, it will save time, effort and frustration if you have everything in front of you. 

You are also going to want to have some pen and paper to take notes as well. 

Make sure you write down the name of the person you talked to, their title, employee identification number (if they have one), and the date and time of your call. 

Make the Call - Personal Income Tax - Getting on the Line with a Real Person at the IRS

The phone number for the IRS is 1.800.829.1040. The IRS is available for phone calls 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time Monday through Friday. 

The best time to call is going to be in the morning. Monday and Tuesday are usually the busiest days.

There may be wait times and there may not be wait times. It also depends on the time of year that you are making your phone call. If you call in March or April, be prepared for a very long wait time. 

The waiting can add to your frustration and anger, but remember to breathe through this process. Find something productive to do while you wait.

When you do call the IRS, after you select your language, do not select option number 1, which is inquiring about your refund status. You want to select Option 2, Personal Income Tax. 

Then press 1 for form, tax history or payment. 

Next press 3 for all other questions. 

Press 2 for all other questions.


The system is now going to ask you to enter your social security number or EIN to access your account information. If you enter it, you will begin an automated process. Do NOT enter your number. 

The system will prompt you to enter your SSN or EIN twice before it will take you to another menu. On this new menu, press 2 for personal or individual tax questions and you should be transferred to an agent. 

Now that you have a real person on the line at the IRS, make sure to continue to breathe and stay calm, it will not help your situation if you get angry and upset with the IRS agent. 

Make the Call for Businesses

The phone number for the IRS for business questions is 1.800.829.4933. The IRS is available for phone calls 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time Monday through Friday. 

Make the Call for Non-profits

The phone number for the IRS is 1.800.829.5500. The IRS is available for phone calls 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time Monday through Friday. 

IRS Website

In order to answer as many questions as possible for you and cut down on wait times, the IRS phone system is very automated and will require you to answer a lot of prompts. 

There is also a lot of information on the website that may answer your questions as well. Before sitting down to make this phone call, make sure you can't find the answers to your questions on the website already. 

Contact your Local IRS Office

The IRS also has local offices around the country that you can contact as well. If you have a lot of difficulty trying to contact the IRS and get a real person on the line from the methods above, then you could try your local office as well. 

Phone Call Prompts

While you are on the phone waiting for a person to answer the phone, you are going to get prompts to use for more of your answers. This is where you remain patient and calm, you will be able to get a real person on the line and get your questions answered. 

Phishing Attempts

You also need to remember that the IRS or government will not call you or email you. They send everything through snail mail to your home.  All letters will be signed by a person that has the words Revenue Officer in their title. 

When you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be at the IRS or any branch of the federal government or state government, this is a phone call that is trying to get your information for identity theft. Hang up the phone immediately. 

The same with emails. Unless you have already been in contact with a government agent, state or federal, they will not be emailing you. Any emails you do receive are most likely phishing emails. Pay attention to what is being asked of you in the emails.

Contacting Your State Government

When you go to your state's Department of Revenue site, there is a contact page with a phone number to call. With 50 different states, I can't possibly list them all here. 

Most of the time, this number is going to go a call center. And the employees at the call center are trained to be able to answer your questions related to your taxes. 

Again, you want to make sure you have all of the pertinent information in front of you that you need answers to. 

Have a pen and paper and make sure you write down the name of the person you talked to, their title, the date and time you talked to them and your answers to your questions. 

Summary of Getting a Hold of a Real Person at the IRS or State Government

It is very possible to reach a real person at both the IRS and the state government. These people can answer your questions for you that you have regarding your tax situation. 

You also want to make sure that you have everything in front of you that you need answers to and that can help you talk to a real person easier. 

Lastly, take notes on what is said on the phone call. 

Also, remember to remain calm and cognizant of the fact that you are talking to a real person at the IRS or your state government. This person has feelings and a soul just like you and me. And they genuinely want to help you with answers to your questions. 

All information on this site is provided for general education purposes only and may not reflect recent changes in federal or state laws. It is not intended to be relied upon as legal, accounting, or tax advice. We strongly encourage you to always consult with a tax or accounting professional about your specific situation before taking any action. Please read our full disclaimer regarding this topic.

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