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Don't plan on getting to talk to the IRS this tax season

While the IRS is typically difficult to reach immediately after Presidents' Day because many Massachusetts residents have either filed their taxes by this time or they may be peppering the agency with questions regarding tax returns, the late start of the 2013 tax season may make this feat nearly impossible. Over the years, the IRS has become increasingly difficult to reach during tax season.

According to the Taxpayer Advocate Service, more than 100 million people contacted the IRS in 2012. Out of this number of people, more than 30 percent of them were never able to reach a customer service representative. For those consumers who were able to reach an actual agent, the average wait time was 17 minutes in 2012, a nearly 50 percent increase over the average 12-minute wait in 2011. Further, the wait time in 2012 was more than three times the average wait time that consumers experienced in 2007.

There are a few steps that consumers can take to potentially decrease this wait time, however. For example, they should avoid calling on a Monday or Friday, which are the busiest times for the IRS. Additionally, calls after 2 p.m. are more likely to have a shorter wait time. If possible, calls should be made prior to April, which is the busiest time for calls as individuals scramble to get their returns in on time. Individuals should also keep their returns from the previous year on hand to help save time on the phone. Checking for information regarding an expected refund can be completed online or through a telephone automated system, and checking on the evenings or weekends may help prevent the online tool from stalling.

If a person needs advice regarding his or her taxes and the IRS is not available, a knowledgeable tax attorney may be able to provide the legal advice that a person needs. He or she may also be able to offer suggestions to a client to help him or her avoid future tax pitfalls and eliminate the need for consulting the IRS.

Source: Market Watch, "The IRS is too busy to talk to you," Jonnelle Marte, Feb. 20, 2013

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