Photo: Paul Brady Photography (Shutterstock)
If you have a tax question, this weekend is the absolute worst time to try to get someone from the IRS on the phone. According to a press release from Feb. 16, Presidents Day weekend is historically the busiest time of year for the IRS phone system. Luckily, there are ways to take care of most things without spending hours on hold (but if you do have to call, here’s how to quickly reach a real person).
Despite hiring 5,000 customer service representatives to staff its help line during peak demand, the IRS still expects long wait times this weekend and recommends starting your quest for answers at their website. Most tax questions have definite yes-or-no answers, and you can use one of the many tools on the IRS website to find them. Doing your own research isn’t as simple or definite as an answer from a human being, but in the end, you’ll probably get the information you’re looking for faster than if you were to call—especially this weekend. The Interactive Tax Assistant, Tax Topics and Frequently Asked Questions sections of the IRS website are all searchable, so you should easily be able to track down the sections of the tax code that apply to your question.
The IRS website also has several tools specifically designed to help taxpayers navigate questions about certain credits, refund status, and withholding, which are some of the most common points of confusion. If your question has to do with any of those topics, these tools should get you started:
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Assistant can help you figure out if you qualify for this creditThe Where’s My Refund? tool does what it says on the tin; if you’re still waiting on a refund, start hereThe IRS2Go app lets you check the status of your return and/or refundThe Tax Withholding Estimator can answer most questions about withholding amounts
Of course, some questions are just too complicated to be answered by an interactive tool or article. In that case, it’s probably time to grit your teeth and give the IRS a call—just wait until the holiday weekend is over if you can.