IRS: Avoid the rush, get help

Stock images, St. George News

PHOENIX — The Internal Revenue Service recently reminded taxpayers that these weeks mark the busiest time of year for IRS toll-free phone services. Taxpayers can avoid the rush by getting answers to their questions on

To save time and find answers faster, taxpayers should make their first stop. A good place to start is the IRS Services Guide for a quick overview of online services and resources. IRS information and some tools are also in Spanish.

Here are some reasons people call the IRS as well as faster and easier ways to get answers on

Where’s My Refund?

The IRS issues more than 90 percent of refunds in less than 21 days. IRS representatives cannot provide individual refund information before then. Taxpayers can easily find information about their refund by using the “Where’s My Refund? tool. It’s available on and on the mobile app, IRS2Go. “Where’s My Refund?” provides taxpayers with the most up-to-date information available.

“Where’s My Refund?” tool began updating on Feb. 16 for EITC and ACTC filers.

By law, the IRS must hold Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit refunds until Feb. 15. Taxpayers will begin to see refunds claiming EITC/ACTC the week of Feb. 27. “Where’s My Refund?” began updating for EITC/ACTC refunds beginning Feb. 16, with the vast majority updating by Feb. 18.

Read more: IRS: When those claiming certain tax credits can expect refunds

Do IRS phone assistors or transcripts have more up-to-date refund information?

The IRS phone assistors do not have additional information on refund dates beyond what taxpayers have access to on “Where’s My Refund?”

Given high call volumes, taxpayers should not call unless directed to do so by the refund tool. In addition, a common myth is that people can get their refund date earlier by ordering a tax transcript. There is no such “secret” option to find a refund date by calling the IRS or ordering a transcript; just check “Where’s My Refund?” once a day.

Need to visit a local IRS office?

Most taxpayers must make an appointment before visiting a taxpayer assistance center. However, this time of year also is a peak time for TAC visits. The vast majority of people seeking an appointment can find answers to their questions on

Need answers to a tax law question?

Taxpayers with questions about what filing status means, whether to file a tax return or who can be claimed as a dependent can use online tools. There’s the Interactive Tax Assistant that takes taxpayers through a series of questions just like a customer service representatives would. Taxpayers may also do a keyword search on; use Publication 17, the annual, searchable income tax guide; or the IRS Tax Map, which allows users to search by topic or keyword to find tax-law information by subject.

How do I find 2015 adjusted gross income?

If taxpayers changed tax software products this year, they may need to manually enter their 2015 adjusted gross income to complete the electronic filing process. On a 2015 tax return, the AGI is on line 37 of the Form 1040; line 21 on the Form 1040-A or line four on the Form 1040-EZ. See Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return for options for taxpayers who did not retain a copy of their 2015 return.

Didn’t get a Form W-2?

Employers are required to send their employees a Form W-2, Statement of Earnings, by Jan. 31. Employees should allow enough time for their form to be mailed to their address of record. If form W-2 is not received by the end of February, employees should first contact their employer to ensure they have the correct mailing address on file. After exhausting all options with the employer, employees may contact the IRS. The IRS will send a letter to the employer. However, the IRS urges taxpayers to wait until after Feb. 27 to avoid long wait times on the telephone.

Need a copy of a tax return or transcript?

Taxpayers can easily order a return or transcript on the website. See the Get Transcript tool to download a transcript or have a transcript mailed. More information on these options is available at

Can’t pay a tax bill?

For taxpayers whose concern is a tax bill they can’t pay, the Online Payment Agreement tool can help determine whether they qualify for an installment agreement with the IRS.

Need help preparing your taxes?

Free tax return preparation is available nationwide from volunteers and on with Free File. Local community partners operate about 13,000 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA, and Tax Counseling for the Elderly, or TCE, sites nationwide. Find a location nearby by searching “Free Tax Help” on

Read more: 

IRS Free File is offered by 12 tax software companies that make their brand-name products available for free to the 70 percent of taxpayers who earned $64,000 or less last year. Free File Fillable Forms is available for those whose earnings are more than $64,000 and are comfortable preparing their taxes. Taxpayers may also use a searchable directory on for help on finding a tax professional with credentials and select qualifications to help them prepare their tax returns.

Read more: Helpful apps for tackling your taxes


Twitter: @STGnews

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.