This seems contrary to tip #1, but now that you’re ready for it, pick up the phone.
Since 2008, we’ve seen the economy get stimulated several times and in numerous ways. Every time a stimulus package gets approved, there are new tax laws attached to it. The tax laws have been changing so rapidly, that many IRS employees cannot even keep up.
In addition to struggling with constant changes in the tax code, the IRS is understaffed right now. In fact, if you write them a letter, they may take 60 – 90 days to even read your request. (Before 2008, it took about 30 – 45 days.) Even when you send the IRS a written response, the ball is still considered by them to be in your court until they get around to reading your letter. That means that the IRS computers will continue to pursue you, issue bank levies, and garnish wages until a human being at the IRS gets around to your letter and he or she may or may not actually stop the computer.
When you call the IRS, you can make progress on your case that very day. You may even resolve your case that same day. Even if you do not reach an agreement with the IRS, you can still request that they stop the computer for up to 45 days to give you the additional time you need to file past due returns or lookup the additional information they want in order to resolve your case.
Hold times for the IRS are usually 40 minutes to an hour. Also, you may be transferred between departments and have to wait on hold for a new IRS representative. It can be frustrating, but it is much less frustrating than having your wages garnished while the IRS sits on your written request.
In order to avoid being transferred, begin by calling the phone number on the most recent IRS notice you have received. If the letter was signed by a person, you should ask to speak with that person. Sometimes you will be told to speak with someone else, and that is okay. If you have lost your notice, you can begin by calling the main number at 1-800-829-1040.
Remember when you call to be prepared with everything from the checklist in tip #1. Your goal is to get a one call resolution to your case. The more prepared you are, the more likely the IRS will be able to set up an agreement with you that day.
Note: Using the phone does not apply to Offers in Compromise. Due to the complex nature of OICs, the IRS will not be able to process your request over the phone.
In summary, if you have prepared in advance, picking up the phone and calling the IRS is the fastest way to resolve your case and avoid additional IRS levies, IRS liens, IRS seizures, and IRS wage garnishments. It’s what the tax pros do; it’s what you should do as well.