Why Can’t I Reach the IRS By Phone?

If you’ve recently had a tax question, a problem with a return, or even received correspondence from the IRS, you may have experienced the frustration of getting someone on the phone at the Internal Revenue Service. No matter when you call, you seem to spend hours on hold only to get disconnected. It’s not just you. IRS call response times have never been great, but since the Coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020, the situation has worsened significantly.

What’s the Problem with the IRS?

In 2021, the IRS received more than 282 million calls. According to CBS News reporting, the IRS only answered 11% of those calls. Heading into the 2022 tax filing season, the IRS was sitting on a backlog of more than six million returns from the 2020 tax year and more than five million pieces of taxpayer correspondence. Before the pandemic, the IRS took about 45 days to respond to correspondence. During 2021, that time rose to six months.

Are IRS Response Times Improving?

The good news is that taxpayer wait times have improved over the last year. According to the IRS Taxpayer Advocate, by the end of October 2022, taxpayers filed more than 164 million tax returns, and the IRS issued nearly $345 billion in refunds. While the IRS had about the same number of tax returns still pending that it had at the same time in 2021, as of November 2022, many taxpayers were still waiting. The IRS reported that it was “opening mail within normal time frames, and we’ve processed all paper and electronic individual returns in the order received if they were received prior to April 2022 and the return had no errors or did not require further review.”

What Next?

Whatever you do, don’t just give up on your tax questions. If you don’t pay or fail to respond to correspondence from the IRS, you could face penalties and interest, federal tax liens, or levies on your assets. If you’re struggling to solve a tax problem, it’s time to seek advice from an experienced tax professional. Contact Highland Tax Group to get started.