Peak tax inquiry period arrives

In this photo March 22, 2013, photo, the exterior of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building in Washington. (The Associated Press)

The days before and after Presidents Day mark the peak period for taxpayer phone calls to the IRS.

Officials say to help minimize call times, taxpayers seeking advice should use www.IRS.gov to access resources like the IRS Service Guide to answer their questions or be prepared to verify their identities if they need to call the agency.

IRS call center personnel, in order to determine the caller is authorized, ask that callers have the following information readily available:

>> Social Security numbers and birth dates for those who were named on the tax return

>> An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) letter if the taxpayer has one in lieu of a SSN

>> Filing status — single, head of household, married filing joint or married filing separate

>> The prior-year tax return. Telephone assistors may need to verify taxpayer identity with information from the return before answering certain questions

>> A copy of the tax return in question

>> Any IRS letters or notices received by the taxpayer

The rules are to comply with federal law, which dictate the IRS assistors only speak with the taxpayer or to the taxpayer’s legally designated representative.

If taxpayers or tax professionals are calling about a third party’s account, they should be prepared to verify their identities and provide information about the third party they are representing. Before calling about a third-party, be sure to have the following information available:

>> Verbal or written authorization from the third-party to discuss the account

>> The ability to verify the taxpayer’s name, SSN/ITIN, tax period, and tax form(s) filed

>> Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) or PIN if a third-party designee

>> A current, completed and signed Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization or a completed and signed Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative

Questions regarding a deceased taxpayer require different steps. Those seeking assistance must be prepared to fax a deceased taxpayer’s death certificate as well as copies of Letters Testamentary approved by the court, or IRS Form 56, Notice Concerning Fiduciary Relationship (for estate executors).