In an effort to speed up things for folks visiting some Internal Revenue Service Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs), the agency began on Feb. 23 offering appointments.
You can set up a specific time -- the links below will offer details -- to talk with an IRS rep if you're in:
- Atlanta, Georgia (Atlanta-Woodcock)
- Austin, Texas
- Birmingham, Alabama
- Chicago, Illinois (Dearborn)
- Denver, Colorado
- Fresno, California
- Hartford, Connecticut
- Plantation, Florida
- San Antonio, Texas
- Seattle, Washington
This is only a test in those 10 locations. But if it works, the appointment option could be expanded. Overall, the IRS has more than 350 walk-in locations across the country.
Avoiding long lines: Typically, service at most IRS offices is on a first-come, first-served basis. That means some taxpayers must deal with long lines, sometimes waiting more than an hour.
The IRS believes the appointments could help taxpayers by allowing them to know in advance that they can get the service they need.
"During a challenging filing season with a very limited budget, we need to find ways to increase our efficiency and still provide the best service possible to taxpayers," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in announcing the appointment option. "My hope is that this test increases the level of customer service that we can provide while minimizing needless burden on taxpayers."
No set time for some services: Make sure, however, that you do need to talk to an IRS agent before setting up an appointment.
If you're heading to one of the 10 appointment-available offices simply to make a payment or pick up forms, those services still will be first-come, first-served.
In those cases, the IRS suggests taxpayers download forms and other documents from IRS.gov and use the agency's Direct Pay system to remit any due taxes.
You also can find out what else is available at local IRS offices nationwide, as well as find the one nearest you, at the IRS special TAC Web page.
More free tax filing help: In addition to free IRS help, there is a wide variety of no-cost tax help available across the United States. One such option, examined last week at my other tax blog, is MyFreeTaxes.com.
MyFreeTaxes.com is, in many ways, identical to two widely used tax filing programs, the Internal Revenue Service's online Free File option and the agency-sponsored Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA, that offers in-person tax help.
But one of the big draws of MyFreeTaxes.com is that its services include free state tax preparation and e-filing.
Also over at Bankrate last week, I looked at a rare instance of Congressional bipartisanship. That near miracle happened when the House overwhelmingly passed H.R. 529, a bill that expands, as the legislation's number indicates, the popular 529 college savings plans.
My additional tax thoughts at Bankrate Taxes Blog generally are posted every Tuesday and Thursday. If you don't get a chance to check them out then and there, check in here over the weekend where you'll usually find highlights and links.
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