Use The Clock And Google Voice To Actually Reach The IRS

Sure, it’s not peak IRS season right now, but there is quite a variety of reasons that you might have to deal with the ever-present government agency anyway. Tax Cat is out of the office, vacationing at his offshore kitty condo in the Cayman Islands, so it’s up to reader Christopher, a tax preparer, to serve us up with handy tax advice. See, sometimes you have to call the IRS. You can’t avoid it. But so does everyone else in the country. What Christopher figured out is that the IRS call center doesn’t have fixed hours like most. Its open hours depend on what time zone you live in. His solution? Use a Google Voice number to fudge what time zone he’s in, and call late in the evening when the business day is done for most of the continental U.S.

This tip may come in handy for anyone who has to call the IRS to work out a tax problem, but can’t call during the workday.

I prepare tax returns and provide accounting services for a living. So I spend a lot of time on the phone with the IRS fixing client issues throughout the year. Unfortunately, I sometimes don’t have enough time in the day to get to everything within the the 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time that their 800 number serves the public. If you call after 7 p.m., you’re routed to the automated system and informed that person to person assistance isn’t available until the next day. The computer uses your area code to decide if you get an operator or a computer.

An easy way around this? Today I set up a Google Voice account with a San Diego area code. It gave me 2 extra hours to work out tax issues for clients. I suppose if I wanted to, I could have used a Honolulu area code and extended the service time even more.

Of course, I still spent most of my extra time on hold, but I’m concentrating on the positive.



Edit Your Comment

  1. TBGBoodler says:

    Eventually the term “area code” is going to be completely obsolete. Our grandkids will wonder why we call them that, like my kids have no idea why we say “ka-ching!” or “dial” a phone number.

    • TBGBoodler says:

      Oh… I meant to say that this idea is brilliant. Thanks for sharing it!

      • HeadlessCow says:

        So if I moved from NH to HI and kept my cell phone number, my IRS hours would be 2am to 2pm? Brilliant!

    • Actionable Mango says:

      I’m 40 and I don’t even know why people say “ka-ching”.

      • Not Given says:

        I’m not sure. Could it be the sound of coins going into a payphone?

        • Chuft-Captain says:

          It’s just a general money noise. It derives from the bell of cash registers when they would open.

      • shepd says:

        You haven’t been to an old enough business. VERY old manual cash registers did this. The barber shop I used to go to was staffed by an ~80 year old man and his wife. They came to Canada to open a couple of years after WWII. They never bothered to change the cash register, which when I last went there, had worn out *everything*, except the marble used to check if coins were real or not back in the day. I bet they got that cash register used when they opened up, too.

        Not much else was ever updated in that barber shop, either, except for the tools that wore out. They were still using a shaving cream machine, too.

        In fact, their cash register was pretty much the same as this one:

        The only other place I’d been in with a manual cash register was an old electronics shop (the irony!) but theirs didn’t make that sort of sound, because, IIRC, it had a wind up handle.

        • CheritaChen says:

          Hah, I was about to post the exact same link.

          Now, as to whether people who say “ka-ching” really should be saying it, as it can be associated with other generally annoying personality traits…that’s a different story.

  2. SirWired says:

    I wonder if Google voice issues numbers in 671 (Guam)?

  3. jeb says:

    Why does it matter what time zone he’s in? The staff is there already, so why not have it be open.

    Wait, it’s the IRS. Customer service isn’t even a thought, apparently.

    • Carlee says:

      I think (if I’m reading the article right) that when you call in, the automated system determines what time zone you are calling from, based on your area code. If you call after 7pm your time, you will be forwarded to voicemail. If you use an area code that is in a time zone 3 hours behind yours, you can still be making calls at almost 10pm and still get a live person. There will be IRS staff there, taking calls, but the automated system won’t let you talk to a live person if it appears it’s already past 7pm your local time.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      Because they don’t want EVERY SINGLE TAXPAYER IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY calling at the same time. If they limit the hours and then spread them across the country, they can serve all the customers in a reasonable amount of time without having to waste SHITLOADS of money on extra reps.

      The IRS has had *STELLAR* customer service, by the way, across every metric, for at least a decade. They get better customer service scores than most private businesses.

  4. nauip says:

    “I suppose if I wanted to, I could have used a Honolulu area code and extended the service time even more.”

    Actually, no you couldn’t. Since Hawaii only has 1 area code (808) there are no spare numbers provided to Google or any other VoIP service. I found this out when I tried to sign up for Magic Jack.