The Internal Revenue Service has opened a special telephone line for taxpayers affected by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Individuals who have questions about the BP payments or who are experiencing filing or payment hardships because of the oil spill should contact the IRS at (866) 562-5227.

The special services phone line will operate weekdays from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time. In certain cases, the IRS can assist oil spill victims by suspending collection and examination actions. Taxpayers who need this assistance must request it. Others may decide to continue making payments because interest will continue to accrue on outstanding balances, even if some penalties are abated.

In addition to postponing collection actions, the IRS continues to have a number of other ways to help taxpayers deal with oil spill issues or other economic hardships, including added flexibility for missed payments on installment agreements and offers in compromise for previously compliant individuals; consideration of a taxpayer’s current income and potential for future income when negotiating an offer in compromise; accelerated levy releases; and assistance of the Taxpayer Advocate Service for those experiencing economic harm and seeking help resolving tax problems that have not been resolved through normal channels.

In addition to the new telephone line, the IRS will conduct a special assistance day on July 17 for oil spill victims in seven cities. Taxpayers and tax preparers will be able to work directly with IRS employees to resolve tax issues, including specific topics related to the oil spill. The IRS will hold Gulf Coast Assistance Days in the following cities: Mobile, Ala.; Panama City and Pensacola, Fla.; New Orleans, Houma and Baton Rouge, La.; and Gulfport, Miss. The times and locations of the sessions will be announced soon.

For further information, including the tax treatment of BP compensation payments, see Questions & Answers about the Gulf oil spill on the IRS Web site, IRS.gov. Taxpayers are also encouraged to visit DisasterAssistance.gov, which has information on assistance for Gulf oil spill victims.

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