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Friday February 23, 2024

Washington News

Washington Hotline

Peak IRS Phone Support After Presidents Day

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) 2024 filing season is now in full swing. The IRS encourages taxpayers to use online tools and learn about the "free help" available on IRS.gov.

IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel stated, "We have worked hard to provide better taxpayer service for people this filing season with more options to reach the IRS in convenient ways. We want taxpayers to have access to the help they need around the clock. IRS.gov's expanded tools and information make that easier for taxpayers, especially during this peak period for IRS phone lines around Presidents Day."

The IRS reports approximately 98% of taxpayers will file electronically this year. The IRS encourages everyone to file electronically and use direct deposit for a faster refund. There also are multiple free and online tax preparation options. These include the IRS Free File, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs. If taxpayers have income of $79,000 or less, the IRS Free File software can be used. Taxpayers with any level of income may use the IRS Free File Fillable Forms.

A new option for a limited number of taxpayers is the IRS Direct File program. This is available currently to federal and state employees in 12 participating states. Military members and some veterans may receive assistance from the MilTax program run by the Department of Defense.

There are multiple services on IRS.gov that also assist taxpayers.
  1. IRS Online Account — If a taxpayer has a Social Security number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), an IRS Online Account can be created. This can provide information on a balance due and payment options, allow the creation of a payment plan, access prior tax returns, locate the Adjusted Gross Income number from previous tax returns and sign tax authorizations from a professional advisor.
  2. Where's My Refund? — If a taxpayer has a refund pending, the "Where's My Refund?" tool on IRS.gov will provide useful information. This will explain refund status and the updated version uses plain language. If the taxpayer qualifies for an earned income tax credit (EITC) or additional child tax credit (ACTC) refund, those will start to be issued by February 27. The "Where's My Refund?" tool may enable taxpayers to find the projected refund date.
  3. Interactive Tax Assistant — The IRS has updated the Interactive Tax Assistant (ITA) tool this year. Taxpayers can ask basic questions such as: Should I file a tax return? What is my filing status? Is this relative an eligible dependent? Is this income taxable? Am I eligible for a credit? Is this expense deductible?
  4. Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) — Low and moderate-income workers and families may be eligible to receive a valuable EITC tax break. The EITC Assistant on IRS.gov will help taxpayers understand eligibility, if children or relatives are qualifying, an estimated amount of the credit and preferred filing status.
  5. Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) — An excellent way to reduce the risk of identity theft is to obtain an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN). This is a six-digit number known only to you and the IRS. You can obtain an IP PIN on IRS.gov with the "Get an IP PIN" tool.
There are several other helpful sections of IRS.gov. If you want to learn more about tax preparers, you can go to the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications. A tax preparer will sign your return and include his or her preparer tax identification number (PTIN).

Editor's Note: The IRS has invested significant resources in upgrades to IRS.gov. The online tools assist millions of taxpayers each year and reduce the number of phone calls directed to IRS staff. Taxpayers are encouraged to learn about the many services available on IRS.gov.

Published February 16, 2024


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