How to Call the IRS and Talk to a Real Person

The IRS has been extremely understaffed for a long time. That means they are doing fewer audits, but it also means it’s much harder to talk to a real person if you have a question about your taxes. They do have a phone number you can call, but reaching a real person can be challenging. Here are the steps to follow to get a real person on the phone.

Avoid Calling the IRS if You Can

If you just want to know the status of your tax return, or you want to make a payment or see how much you owe, or you want to get a copy of your tax transcript, these kinds of things can more easily be done on the IRS website. It’s best to avoid calling them if you can. They have a list of these resources here.

You may also want to visit your local IRS office in-person instead.

Make Sure You Have the Necessary Information

You’ll need some or all of this information to verify your identity when you call the IRS:

  • Your name exactly as it appears on your most recent return, and your spouse’s name if you filed jointly.
  • Your full address from your most return return.
  • Your social security number (or ITIN).
  • Your birthdate.
  • Have a copy of your most recent tax return for verification. They may ask for your filing status (single, married filing jointly, married filing separate, head of household, or qualifying surviving spouse). You can find your status at the top of your tax return.
  • Have any letters or information they have sent you.

Getting Through to a Real Person

Ok, this is the tricky part. The IRS tries very hard to route you to their automated systems when you call. And you may want to use their automated systems for things like getting your tax return status. But if you really do need to get a real person on the phone, here are the steps to do that:

  • Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. They’re open 7 AM to 7 PM local time (your calling area’s time). They’re closed on weekends and all government recognized holidays.
  • The first prompt will be to choose your language. 1 is English, 2 is Spanish.
  • To continue to get to a real person, choose option 2 (even if you’re call about a return). Only choose 1 if you want automated information about your return.
  • Then press 1 (“for questions about a form you have already submitted or a payment or tax transcript”).
  • Then press 3 (“for all other questions”)
  • Then press 2 (“all other questions”)
  • Next, it will ask you for your SSN or EIN. Just wait, don’t enter anything.
  • When prompted, press “2” for individual tax return questions (or choose “1” for business related tax questions).
  • Then press 3 (“for all other questions”).

And then you should be on hold for a real person. Congratulations, you made it through the IRS phone maze!

Still having trouble getting your question answered?

If you have a tax issue that you need help with, contact us. We can most likely help with your tax issue without contacting the IRS. Or if it’s a question about your specific tax filings and we need to contact the IRS, the IRS provides some additional resources to tax professionals, including a dedicated phone line for registered preparers. We can also help with filing requests to get your transcripts or other information to help with your tax situation.

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David Orr

I am a credentialed tax professional with a primary focus on tax preparation and advising for real estate investors. Have tax questions or want me to do your taxes? Contact us.

This article was written or updated in 2023 or 2024 and is current for the 2023 and 2024 tax years.

The information presented here is meant for guidance purposes only, and not as personal legal or tax advice.