IRS to Taxpayers: Hang Up the Phone

The IRS has a message for taxpayers during the week of Presidents Day: Don’t even think about calling us.

Typically, this week is “prime time” for taxpayers to call the IRS with questions about filing returns and related issues. It only make sense since the Presidents Day holiday gives workers a good chance to catch their breath, sort out all the W-2s and 1099s that piled up the past month, and begin to address their returns. Similarly, you may notice more clients beating a path to your door.

In fact, this week may be even busier than it’s been in the past. The 2014 tax-filing season got off to a slow start when the kickoff was delayed ten days due to the government shutdown last October. The IRS claimed it needed the extra time to finalize forms and tweak its systems. To add to the strain, government budget cutbacks have resulted in longer wait times for callers to the IRS and slower responses.

Instead of dialing up the IRS, the nation’s tax-collection agency is asking taxpayers to use its website and other online tools to find answers to their questions.

“The entire week of the Presidents Day holiday marks a peak time in the number of calls to the IRS, and we encourage taxpayers to visit IRS.gov as the best place to get quick help,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a prepared statement.

The IRS noted that taxpayers now have plenty of options. For instance, they can check the status of their tax refund in real time, request a copy of tax transcripts, or receive responses to inquiries on a 24/7 basis. The IRS Services Guide also provides a list of resources. In this high-tech age, the IRS never sleeps.

Koskinen also released a YouTube video asking taxpayers to refrain from calling the IRS during its busy season. In the video, Koskinen reiterates the availability of self-help tools and warns about the anticipated long wait times for callers.

Jamming up phone lines isn’t the IRS’s only concern. For instance, it has cut back on services this year at its walk-in taxpayer assistance centers. Low-income taxpayers will be directed to volunteer sites. And the IRS continues to instruct all taxpayers to visit its website to meet their needs.

Finally, the IRS posted a special edition of its tax tip series for the week of the Presidents Day holiday, IRS Offers Options to Avoid the President’s Day Rush. The posting provides frequently asked questions and explains the best ways to get answers.

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