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Trying to reach the IRS? Very few callers getting through

tax document AP
Posted at 5:00 AM, Oct 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-05 09:33:33-04

If you haven't filed your taxes yet, the extension deadline is coming up on Oct. 15, but if you have questions about your return, good luck trying to get personal help from the IRS.

John let me know he's had a heck of a time trying to clear up his tax issues and get his refund.

"It's no joke, Joe. I called at least 30 times and 28 times I was disconnected," he says.

John says he sits on hold for one or two hours almost every call to the IRS.

He says the IRS told him someone else tried to file his tax return. Later, he found there was a stimulus check/address issue.

John admits he has moved a few times lately.

After more than a year of getting nowhere, John says he finally got an appointment with the IRS in person.

"I had my tax returns, driver's license, social security, the whole nine yards," he says.

He thought everything was cleared up.

Despite that, he says a year and a half later, he's still fighting for his refund and can't get any answers.

The pandemic has been hard for all of us — and it hit the IRS especially hard. At a time when demand for answers about stimulus money and tax relief was high, the IRS closed help centers and had major staffing issues because of COVID.

With a huge filing backlog, four times the calls for help, and less staff, they are still trying to dig out of a massive consumer assistance hole.

During the most recent tax filing season, out of the 85 million calls to the IRS 1040 line, only 3% reached a telephone assister. That's according to a National Taxpayer Advocate report.

Other Arizonans let me know they feel the pain.

Jason says, "I've tried calling the 800 number at least a hundred times."

Jack got hit an $1,800 tax bill saying, "I believe it is a mistake, but I cannot contact them."

And Matthew emailed saying, "you cannot reach the IRS at all. What do I do?"

Well, the suggestions are mostly what many have tried before:

  • Be persistent and don't give up.
  • Try calling the IRS when lines open at 7 a.m. on weekdays
  • Contact a local IRS office or the local taxpayer advocate on Central Avenue in Phoenix

While Matthew and Jack stuck with it and finally got IRS help, John is still waiting desperately to get that refund and put this behind him.

"If you can get an appointment in Phoenix, I'll go down there with you," John tells me.

We're working on that IRS appointment now.

The IRS says it opened centers, hired thousands of additional workers, and has significantly lowered the filing backlog.

Click here to read the full National Taxpayer Advocate report concerning the IRS.

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