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What to Know Before You Call the IRS




Sometimes, taxpayers must call the IRS about a tax matter. As part of the IRS's ongoing efforts to keep taxpayer data secure from identity thieves, IRS phone assistors take great care to discuss personal information with the taxpayer or someone the taxpayer has authorized to speak on their behalf. Therefore, the IRS will ask taxpayers and their representatives to verify their identity when they call.


Calling the IRS About Your Own Tax Matter


You should have the following information ready before calling the IRS:

  • Social Security numbers (SSNs) and birth dates for those who were named on the tax return

  • An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) letter if you have one instead of an SSN

  • Your filing status: single, head of household, married filing jointly, or married filing separately

  • Your prior-year tax return, because phone assistors may need it to verify taxpayer identity with information from the return before answering certain questions

  • A copy of the tax return in question

  • Any IRS letters or notices you have received

With this information in hand, you should be able to meet verification requirements and avoid having to call the IRS back with additional information to verify your identity.


Legally Designated Representatives


By law, IRS telephone assistors will speak only with the taxpayer or to the taxpayer's legally designated representative. In other words, a taxpayer can grant authorization to a third party to help with federal tax matters. Depending on the authorization, the third party can be a family member, friend, tax professional, attorney, or business. The different types of third-party authorizations include:

  • Power of Attorney - Allow someone to represent you in tax matters before the IRS. This is different from a power of attorney for property who you authorize to manage your financial affairs. It must be an individual authorized to practice before the IRS.

  • Tax Information Authorization - Appoint anyone to review and receive your confidential tax information for the type of tax and years/periods you determine.

  • Third Party Designee - Designate a person on your tax form to discuss that specific tax return and year with the IRS.

  • Oral Disclosure - Authorize the IRS to disclose your tax information to a person you bring into a phone conversation or meeting with the IRS about a specific tax issue.

Taxpayers must meet all of their tax obligations even when authorizing someone to represent them.


Calling on Behalf of Someone Else


If you are calling the IRS about someone else's account, you should be prepared to verify your identity and provide information about the person you represent. Before calling about a third party, you should have the following information available:

  • Verbal or written authorization from the taxpayer to discuss the account

  • The ability to verify the taxpayer's name, SSN or ITIN, tax period, and tax forms filed

  • Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN)

  • One of these forms, which is current, completed, and signed: Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization or Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative

Keep in mind that if your tax professional is calling the IRS on your behalf, your tax pro will need to have this information about you, except generally a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) instead of an IP PIN.


If you have questions about verifying your identity before calling the IRS or would like to discuss your tax matter with us and potentially have us call the IRS on your behalf give our office a call at 858.247.0939.



Cobalt PacWest | CPAs & Advisors


4225 Executive Square # 600

La Jolla, CA 92037


858-247-0939




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