IRS Provides Taxpayers Easier, Faster Way to Decide Who Can Represent Them and See Their Tax Records

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Get a closer look at Tax Pro Account, an application on IRS.gov that allows for greater online interaction and collaboration between tax professionals and taxpayers.

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By Dietra Grant
CL-21-24, August 12, 2021

In recent years, the IRS has made great progress in offering taxpayers digital alternatives that made their tax responsibilities less burdensome.

One of our latest efforts is the Tax Pro Account that launched in July. This new, groundbreaking application allows for all-digital interaction between tax professionals and taxpayers on authorizations and sets the stage for several advancements on third-party authorizations in the future.

As many taxpayers know, tax records with the IRS are private and secure. The IRS may only share a taxpayer’s data with the taxpayer’s designated third-party representative or designee. For years, the IRS has facilitated these third-party authorizations by using two forms, Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, and Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization. Power of Attorney (POA) is a designation given by the taxpayer to those tax professionals who are licensed to represent the taxpayer before the IRS on tax matters.

The Tax Information Authorization (TIA) gives designated third parties, often a tax professional, permission to access and view the taxpayer’s records held by the IRS. This is often used to resolve a tax issue or to prepare prior-year tax returns.
Until last year, the processing of these authorization forms was a paper operation. Forms were faxed or mailed to us at three locations nationwide, and employees worked from one of the three sites. Then the COVID-19 national emergency declaration resulted in nationwide office closures, leaving us unable to process Forms 2848 and 8821 and record the authorizations to the Centralized Authorization File (CAF) database as we normally would.

This emergency resulted in extended wait times that far exceeded our usual five-day turnaround on processing these forms. In the fall of 2020, we expanded telework options by quickly creating an e-fax process. The e-fax, which was invisible to tax professionals, allowed some of the work to be done by IRS employees remotely. Then, in January, we launched "Submit Forms 2848 and 8821 Online," an online upload process that allows tax professionals to upload these forms and for the acceptance of images of electronic signatures.

While this alleviated some of the challenges, the mailed, faxed, or uploaded forms still had to be processed manually by employees and recorded to the CAF database.

In our continued efforts to improve the taxpayer and tax pro experience, we recently introduced the Tax Pro Account on IRS.gov. Now, tax professionals can digitally initiate an online POA or TIA request for an individual taxpayer by entering the tax professional’s and taxpayer’s information. Upon submission of the authorization by the tax professional, the request is automatically sent to the individual taxpayer’s Online Account for approval and signature.

The taxpayer accesses their own Online Account, selects the “Authorization” tab at the top and can reject or digitally sign the request. When the taxpayer submits the signed request, if the request information is accurate and the tax professional is in good standing with the IRS, the POA or TIA will generally record immediately to the CAF database, though recording could take up to 48 hours. Approved online POAs and TIAs display in both the Tax Pro Account and the Online Account.
This is a game-changer.

The key is for taxpayers who do not have an Online Account to set one up. I highly recommend taxpayers sign up for this secure online service, even if they don’t use a tax professional. To get an Online Account, you must pass a rigorous identity proofing process to keep your account safe. To learn more about our identity proofing process, see Secure Access: How to Register for Certain Online Self-Help Tools.

Each year, the Online Account gains more and more functionality. Now, you can not only approve authorization requests, but you can see your past Economic Impact Payment amounts, get to the Child Tax Credit Update Portal, see selected IRS notices and access transcripts via Get Transcripts, and perform other tasks. You can also see your payment history and make payments online.

If you’re on the fence about creating an Online Account or you’re a tax professional and want to educate your clients about the benefits of having an Online Account, we have many helpful videos and print materials, including:

Tax Pro Account on IRS.gov allows tax professionals to digitally initiate an online POA or TIA request for an individual taxpayer…and upon submission of the authorization, the request is automatically sent to the individual taxpayer’s Online Account for approval and signature.

It’s important to note that using Forms 2848 and 8821 for third-party authorizations remains an option for those individual taxpayers who do not have or are unable to register for an Online Account, who have more complex tax matters requiring the use of a form, or for business taxpayers. These forms can be uploaded using "Submit Forms 2848 and 8821 Online" as well as e-faxed or mailed.

Our Information Technology and Online Service teams have worked hard to get this application ready so quickly. We will continue making tweaks to improve your experience in the coming months.

We anticipate the Tax Pro Account will become a highly valued application, allowing for even greater interaction and collaboration online between the tax professional and taxpayer. We appreciate your patience as we work toward those longer-term goals.

I’m very proud of this important innovation in customer service. The Tax Pro Account is a huge step forward that will benefit taxpayers, tax professionals, and the IRS and provide a platform for future advances.

Dietra Grant
Director, Customer Account Services

Other Resources:

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About the Author

Dietra Grant is the Director of the Customer Account Services (CAS) organization. W&I CAS is the largest single entity in IRS and serves as the cornerstone of IRS filing season operations, employing nearly 35,000 individuals in 25 locations nationwide during the peak filing season. CAS accomplishes its mission through four key operations - Submission Processing, Accounts Management, the Joint Operations Center, and Electronic Products and Services Support.

 

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