COVID-19 UPDATE - Aug-25-2020:
Click this link to the IRS website for the most current information about contacting IRS with any questions or to obtain the status of a filed return, and other such matters:
Re: Cincinnati Campus Toll-Free Telephone Number 866.699.4083
Apr-05-2021: Telephone calls can get through, but contacting a person by direct dial (if you know that person's 6-digit extension number) is difficult; messages left on voicemail may or may not be returned.
Aug-25-2020: Telephone calls are not currently being taken by Cincinnati Campus. See the IRS weblink, above.
(The Pre-Covid-19 Situation: Estate representatives and executors can call Cincinnati Campus at the toll-free number of 1-866.699.4083 to inquire about the examination status of a filed estate tax return, Form 706, during "normal business hours" of 7 am to 4:30 pm Eastern time. Given the regular processing time frames, however, it is pointless to call until at least 5 or 6 months have passed since the return was filed.
More meaningful is that this toll-free number can be used to contact the person who is actually handling the section 6166 accounting and billing file for an estate at any time during the deferral period. Simply call the toll-free number, listen to the voice prompts, and then ask to speak with the person handling the 6166 billing file for your estate. NOTE: You must have a valid Power of Attorney, Form 2848, authorizing you to represent the estate before the IRS in order to speak with that person, or you must be the executor or administrator of record.
The direct telephone extension of the person handling the 6166 billing file can also be obtained from the annual billing notice sent out by Cincinnati Campus.
NOTE: Efffective July 1, 2019 all estate tax returns, Forms 706, must be filed at Kansas City (Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, Kansas City MO 64999) instead of Cincinnati. As of this writing (April 2019) it is not known whether Cincinnati or Kansas City will be responsible for section 6166 accounts maintenance and billing after July 1, 2019. It seems that the institutional knowledge and expertise regarding section 6166 accounts maintenance is currently found only in Cincinnati. The Kansas City telephone number for general estate tax return inquiries will be posted here as soon as it becomes available, as will any information about future responsibilities for section 6166 accounts maintenance.
Anecdotal evidence (mid-June 2019) indicates that Cincinnati Campus will continue to handle section 6166 elections and billing accounts after July 1, 2019, and will also continue to be the telephone contact point for information about the status of filed estate tax returns.)
Calling the IRS 800 telephone number
Executors sometimes seek information about an estate tax return after it has been filed and the tax has been paid by calling the IRS toll-free number 1-800-829-1040. After satisfying the person answering the telephone that he or she is authorized to represent the estate, the caller then provides the decedent’s name, Social Security Number, and date of death. The IRS employee runs a search on the computer system. After a few moments the executor is told that there is nothing in the computer system regarding that estate.
Disbelief is the executor’s mildest response. The IRS employee is told that a return was filed some time before and tax was paid, so there has to be a record. But after much back and forth, the result is the same, and no one is happy.
Why did this problem occur? Because an estate tax return’s data is kept on a computer system (BMF) that is different from the ordinary income tax computer system (IMF). The IRS person ansswering the telephone call needs 3 crucial bits of information before the record will appear on that employee's computer terminal. It is essential for that IRS employee to input the following additional information:
- MFT 52 – for Master File Transcript return code 52. This tells the computer system that a Federal estate tax return, Form 706, is involved. MFT 52 is a Business Master File (BMF) return. A Social Security Number is normally associated with an income tax return, Form 1040, which is MFT 30, an Individual Master File (IMF) return. A SSN search in an IMF database will not pull up a BMF record.
- The letter “V” after the decedent’s Social Security Number – this tells the computer system that it is a Business Master File return, either Form 706 or 709. Without the letter “V”, the estate tax return record will not be accessed.
- Tax Period of 000000 – A decedent dies but once. There is no standard tax year for estate tax return purposes – every estate tax return has a unique, non-standard return due date. (Estate tax returns are due 9 months after the date of death, but the date of death is a variable.) So the IRS employee must be told that the tax period is all zeroes.
Once this information has been input, the estate tax return record will appear on the terminal screen.
Meanwhile, people answering the telephone in the Estate Tax Unit at Cincinnati Campus work within the BMF system and have no problem pulling up estate tax return records on their terminals.