- Publication 947 - Introductory Material
- Publication 947 - Main Content
- Practice Before the IRS
- What Is Practice Before the IRS?
- Who Can Practice Before the IRS?
- Certified public accountants (CPAs).
- Enrolled agents.
- Enrolled retirement plan agents.
- Enrolled actuaries.
- Low Income Taxpayer Clinic Student Interns.
- Unenrolled return preparers.
- Practice denied.
- Other individuals who may serve as representatives.
- Representation Outside the United States
- Authorization for Special Appearances
- Who May Not Practice Before the IRS?
- How Does an Individual Become Enrolled?
- What Are the Rules of Practice?
- Duties and Restrictions
- Incompetence and Disreputable Conduct
- Censure, Disbarments, and Suspensions
- Authorizing a Representative
- What Is a Power of Attorney?
- When Is a Power of Attorney Required?
- Form Required
- Preparation of Form Helpful Hints
- Where To File a Power of Attorney
- Retention/Revocation of Prior Power(s) of Attorney
- Revocation of Power of Attorney/Withdrawal of Representative
- When Is a Power of Attorney Not Required?
- How Do I Fill Out Form 2848?
- Line 1Taxpayer information.
- Line 2Representative(s).
- Line 3Acts authorized (Tax matters).
- Line 4Specific use not recorded on Centralized Authorization File (CAF).
- Line 5Additional acts authorized and restrictions.
- Line 6Retention/revocation of prior power(s) of attorney.
- Line 7Signature of taxpayer.
- Part IIDeclaration of Representative.
- What Happens to the Power of Attorney When Filed?
- How To Get Tax Help
- Preparing and filing your tax return.
- Getting tax forms and publications.
- Access your online account (Individual taxpayers only).
- Using direct deposit.
- Delayed refund for returns claiming certain credits.
- Getting a transcript or copy of a return.
- Using online tools to help prepare your return.
- Resolving tax-related identity theft issues.
- Checking on the status of your refund.
- Making a tax payment.
- What if I cant pay now?
- Checking the status of an amended return.
- Understanding an IRS notice or letter.
- Contacting your local IRS office.
- Watching IRS videos.
- Getting tax information in other languages.
- The Taxpayer Advocate Service Is Here To Help You
- Low Income Taxpayer Clinics
- Practice Before the IRS
- Publication 947 - Additional Material
For the latest information about developments related to Pub. 947, such as legislation enacted after it was published, go to IRS.gov/Pub947.
Intermediate Service Providers. A checkbox has been added to line 5a on the Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, to allow the taxpayer to authorize the designated representative(s) to access the taxpayer's IRS records via an Intermediate Service Provider. For more information, see Authority to access electronic IRS records via Intermediate Service Providers in the Instructions for Form 2848.
Partnership representatives. For partnership tax years beginning after December 31, 2017, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 has eliminated the role "Tax Matters Partner" and replaced it with "Partnership Representative." For more information, see Partnership representative in the Instructions for Form 2848.
Authentication alert. When a representative with a Power of Attorney calls the IRS on your behalf, they must pass authentication procedures prior to the IRS speaking to them about your tax information.
Practitioner Priority Service® (PPS). The Practitioner Priority Service® is a nationwide, toll-free hotline that provides professional support to practitioners with account-related questions. The toll-free number for this service is 1-866-860-4259.
Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) and Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers. The Annual Filing Season Program is a voluntary program that allows limited practice rights for return preparers who are not attorneys, certified public accountants, or enrolled agents. The IRS issues an Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion to return preparers who obtain a certain number of continuing education hours in preparation for a specific tax year. Annual Filing Season Program participants do not have unlimited practice rights (unless they are also an attorney, certified public accountant, or enrolled agent). Their rights are limited to representation of clients whose returns they prepared and signed, but only before revenue agents, customer service representatives, and similar IRS employees, including the Taxpayer Advocate Service. They cannot represent clients whose returns they did not prepare and sign, nor can they represent clients before the collection or appeals functions. See IRS.gov/Tax-Professionals/Annual-Filing-Season-Program for more information about the AFSP. See IRS.Treasury.gov/rpo for an online searchable database of tax return preparers with a PTIN who hold professional credentials recognized by the IRS or who hold an Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion.
This publication discusses who may represent a taxpayer before the IRS and what forms or documents are used to authorize a person to represent a taxpayer. Usually, attorneys, certified public accountants (CPAs), and enrolled agents may represent taxpayers before the IRS. Enrolled retirement plan agents, and enrolled actuaries may represent with respect to specified Internal Revenue Code sections delineated in Circular 230. Under special and limited circumstances, other individuals, including unenrolled return preparers, family members, employees, and students can represent taxpayers before the IRS. For details regarding taxpayer representation, see Who Can Practice Before the IRS , later.
The Office of Professional Responsibility generally has responsibility for matters related to practitioner conduct, and exclusive responsibility for discipline, including disciplinary proceedings and sanctions. The Return Preparer Office is responsible for matters related to the issuance of PTINs, acting on applications for enrollment and administering competency testing and continuing education for designated groups.
Circular 230 covers all matters relating to any of the following.
Communicating with the IRS on behalf of a taxpayer regarding the taxpayer's rights, privileges, or liabilities under laws and regulations administered by the IRS.
Representing a taxpayer at conferences, hearings, or meetings with the IRS.
Preparing, filing or submitting documents, or advising on the preparation, filing or submission of documents, including tax returns, with the IRS on behalf of a taxpayer.
Providing a client with written tax advice on one or more Federal tax matters.
Any individual may for compensation prepare or assist with the preparation of a tax return or claim for refund, appear as a witness for a taxpayer before the IRS, or furnish information at the request of the IRS or any of its officers or employees.
The following individuals are subject to the Regulations contained in Circular 230. However, any individual who is authorized generally to practice (a recognized representative) must be designated as the taxpayer's representative and file a written declaration with the IRS stating that he or she is authorized and qualified to represent a particular taxpayer. Form 2848 can be used for this purpose.
Any individual may represent an individual or entity, who is outside the United States, before personnel of the IRS when such representation also occurs outside the United States. See section 10.7(c)(1)(vii) of Circular 230.
The Commissioner of Internal Revenue, or delegate, can authorize an individual who is not otherwise eligible to practice before the IRS to represent another person for a particular matter. The prospective representative must request this authorization in writing from the Office of Professional Responsibility. However, it is granted only when extremely compelling circumstances exist. If granted, the Commissioner, or delegate, will issue a letter that details the conditions related to the appearance and the particular tax matter(s) for which the authorization is granted.
The authorization letter should not be confused with a letter from an IRS center advising an individual that he or she has been assigned a Centralized Authorization File (CAF) number. The issuance of a CAF number does not indicate that an individual is either recognized or authorized to practice before the IRS. It merely confirms that a centralized file for authorizations has been established for the individual under that number.
In general, individuals who are not eligible, or who have lost the privilege as a result of certain actions, may not practice before the IRS. If an individual loses eligibility to practice, the IRS will not recognize a power of attorney that names the individual as a representative.
Generally, individuals lose their eligibility to practice before the IRS in the following ways.
Not meeting the requirements for renewal of enrollment (such as continuing professional education).
Requesting as an enrolled agent to be placed in inactive retirement status.
Being suspended or disbarred, or determined ineligible for practice, by the Office of Professional Responsibility for violating the regulations contained in Circular 230 or the standards in Revenue Procedure 81-38.
Losing their state license to practice as an attorney or a certified public accountant, irrespective of the basis for the license revocation.
The IRS website IRS.gov/Tax-Professionals/Enrolled-Agents/Become-an-Enrolled-Agent provides complete information on the steps to be taken to become an enrolled agent.
For complete rules on earning an Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion, see IRS.gov/Tax-Professionals/General-Requirements-for-the-Annual-Filing-Season-Program-Record-of-Completion.
The rules governing practice before the IRS are published in the Code of Federal Regulations at 31 C.F.R. Subtitle A, Part 10 and released digitally as Treasury Department Circular No. 230 (Circular 230). The regulations can be accessed at IRS.gov/Tax-Professionals/Circular-230-Tax-Professionals. An attorney, CPA, enrolled agent, enrolled retirement plan agent, or enrolled actuary authorized to practice before the IRS (referred to hereafter as a practitioner) and an appraiser has the duty to perform certain acts and is restricted from performing other acts. In addition, a practitioner cannot engage in disreputable conduct (discussed later). Any practitioner who does not comply with the rules of practice or who engages in incompetent or disreputable conduct is subject to disciplinary action. Also, unenrolled return preparers must comply with the rules of practice and conduct to exercise the privilege of limited practice before the IRS. There are two specific sets of rules that apply, both are contained in Circular 230:
Duties and restrictions relating to practice (Subpart B of Cir. 230), and
Conduct considered to exhibit incompetence or disrepute (Subpart C, Section 10.51 of Cir. 230).
Individuals subject to Circular 230 must promptly submit records or information sought by a proper and lawful request from officers or employees of the IRS, except when the practitioner believes on reasonable grounds and good faith that the information is privileged. Communications with respect to tax advice between a federally authorized tax practitioner (See Internal Revenue Code (IRC) sec. 7525) and a taxpayer generally are confidential to the same extent that communication would be privileged if it were between a taxpayer and an attorney if the advice relates to:
Noncriminal tax matters before the IRS, or
Noncriminal tax proceedings brought in federal court by or against the United States.
Individuals subject to Circular 230 may be disbarred or suspended from practice before the IRS, or censured, for incompetence or disreputable conduct. A monetary penalty may also be imposed, in addition to any other discipline, on both individuals and their firms. The following list contains examples of conduct that is considered disreputable. Further examples are shown in Circular 230, Sec. 10.51(a).
Being convicted of any criminal offense under the internal revenue laws or of any offense involving dishonesty or breach of trust.
Knowingly giving false or misleading information in connection with federal tax matters, or participating in such activity.
Soliciting employment by prohibited means as discussed in section 10.30 of Circular 230.
Willfully failing to file a federal tax return, evading or attempting to evade any federal tax or payment, or participating in such actions.
Misappropriating, or failing to properly and promptly remit, funds received from clients for payment of taxes or other obligations due the United States.
Directly or indirectly attempting to influence the official action of IRS employees by the use of threats, false accusations, duress, or coercion, or by offering gifts, favors, or any special inducements.
Being disbarred or suspended from practice as an attorney, CPA, public accountant, or actuary, by the District of Columbia or any U.S. state, possession, territory, commonwealth, or any federal court, or any federal agency, body, or board.
Knowingly aiding and abetting another person to practice before the IRS during a period of suspension, disbarment, or ineligibility of that other person.
Using abusive language, making false accusations or statements knowing them to be false, circulating or publishing malicious or libelous matter, or engaging in any contemptuous conduct in connection with practice before the IRS.
Giving a false opinion knowingly, recklessly, or through gross incompetence; or engaging in a pattern of providing incompetent opinions on questions arising under the federal tax laws.
The Secretary of the Treasury, or delegate, after notice and an opportunity for a proceeding, may censure, suspend, or disbar an individual subject to Circular 230 from practice before the IRS if the individual is shown to be incompetent or disreputable, fails to comply with the regulations in Subpart B; or with intent to defraud, willfully and knowingly misleads or threatens a client or prospective client.
Censure is a public reprimand. Individuals subject to Circular 230 include any attorney, certified public accountant, enrolled agent, enrolled retirement plan agent, or enrolled actuary engaged in taxpayer representation or advice-giving activity, as well as any Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion holder who represents taxpayers and any appraiser engaged in appraising asset values for federal tax purposes.
You may either represent yourself, or you may authorize an individual to represent you before the IRS. If you chose to have someone represent you, your representative must be a person eligible to do so before the IRS. See Who Can Practice Before the IRS , earlier.
A power of attorney is your written authorization for an individual to receive your confidential tax information from the IRS and to perform certain actions on your behalf. If the authorization is not limited, the individual generally can perform all acts that you can perform, except negotiating or endorsing a check. The authority granted to enrolled retirement plan agents, enrolled actuaries and unenrolled return preparers holding records of completion is limited. For information on the limits regarding annual filing season program record of completion holders, see Revenue Procedure 2014-42 and IRS.gov/Tax-Professionals/Return-Preparer-Office-RPO-At-a-Glance.
Submit a power of attorney when you want to authorize an individual to receive your confidential tax information and represent you before the IRS, whether or not the representative performs any of the other acts cited earlier under What Is a Power of Attorney .
A power of attorney is most often required when you want to authorize another individual to perform at least one of the following acts on your behalf.
Represent you at a meeting with the IRS.
Prepare and file a written response to an IRS inquiry.
Use IRS Form 2848 to appoint a recognized representative to act on your behalf before the IRS. Individuals recognized to represent you before the IRS are listed under Part II, Declaration of Representative, of Form 2848. Your representative must complete that part of the form.
The preparation of Form 2848 is illustrated by an example under How Do I Fill Out Form 2848 , later. However, the following will also assist you in preparing the form.
Generally, you can mail or fax a paper Form 2848 directly to the IRS. To determine where you should file Form 2848, see Where To File in the Instructions for Form 2848.
If Form 2848 is for a specific use, mail or fax it to the office handling that matter. For more information on specific use, see Line 4. Specific Use Not Recorded on CAF in the Instructions for Form 2848.
Your representative may be able to file Form 2848 electronically via the IRS website. For more information, your representative can go to IRS.gov/eServices. If you complete Form 2848 for electronic signature authorization, do not file Form 2848 with the IRS. Instead, give it to your representative, who will retain the document.
A newly filed power of attorney concerning the same matter will revoke a previously filed power of attorney. However, the new power of attorney will not revoke the prior power of attorney if it specifically states it does not revoke such prior power of attorney and either of the following are attached to the new power of attorney.
A copy of the unrevoked prior power of attorney, or
A statement signed by the taxpayer listing the name and address of each representative authorized under the prior unrevoked power of attorney.
A power of attorney is not required when the third party is not dealing with the IRS as your representative. The following situations do not require a power of attorney.
Providing information to the IRS.
Authorizing the disclosure of tax return information using Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization, or other written or oral disclosure consent.
Allowing the IRS to discuss return information with a third party via the checkbox provided on a tax return or other document.
Allowing a partnership representative (PR) to perform acts for the partnership under the centralized partnership audit regime for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017; however, see caution below for early election.
Allowing a tax matters partner (TMP) to perform acts for the partnership for partnership tax years ending prior to January 1, 2018.
Allowing the IRS to discuss return information with a fiduciary.
For partnership tax years beginning after December 31, 2017, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which repealed the TEFRA partnership audit and litigation procedures and the rules applicable to electing large partnerships and replaced them with a new centralized partnership audit regime, has eliminated the role of “tax matters partner” and replaced it with “partnership representative.” Pursuant to Treasury Regulation section 301.9100-22T, certain partnerships can elect to have the new regime apply to partnership returns for tax years beginning after November 2, 2015, and before January 1, 2018.
The following example illustrates how to complete Form 2848.
Stan and Mary Doe have been notified that their joint income tax returns (Forms 1040) for 2014, 2015, and 2016 are being examined. They have decided to appoint Jim Smith, an enrolled agent, to represent them in this matter and any future matters concerning these returns. Jim, who has prepared returns at the same location for years, already has a Centralized Authorization File (CAF) number assigned to him. Mary does not want Jim to sign any agreements on her behalf, but Stan is willing to have Jim do so. Stan and Mary also authorize Jim to use an Intermediate Service Provider to access their IRS records. They want copies of all notices and written communications sent to Jim. This is the first time Stan and Mary have given power of attorney to anyone. They should each complete a Form 2848 as follows.
A power of attorney will be recognized after it is received, reviewed, and determined by the IRS to contain the required information. However, until a power of attorney is entered on the CAF system, IRS personnel may be unaware of the authority of the person you have named to represent you. Therefore, during this interim period, IRS personnel may request that you or your representative bring a copy to any meeting with the IRS.
How the power of attorney is processed and handled depends on whether it is a complete or incomplete document.
After a valid power of attorney is filed, the IRS will recognize your representative. However, if it appears the representative is responsible for unreasonably delaying or hindering the prompt disposition of an IRS matter by failing to furnish, after repeated requests, nonprivileged information, the IRS can contact you directly. For example, in most instances in which a power of attorney is recognized, the IRS will contact the representative to set up appointments and to provide the representative with lists of required items. However, if the representative is unavailable, does not respond to repeated requests, and does not provide required items (other than items considered privileged), the IRS can bypass your representative and contact you directly.
If a representative engages in conduct described above, the matter can be referred to the Office of Professional Responsibility for consideration of possible disciplinary action.
If you have questions about a tax issue, need help preparing your tax return, or want to download free publications, forms, or instructions, go to IRS.gov and find resources that can help you right away.
Getting answers to your tax questions. On IRS.gov get answers to your tax questions anytime, anywhere.
Go to IRS.gov/ITA for the Interactive Tax Assistant, a tool that will ask you questions on a number of tax law topics and provide answers. You can print the entire interview and the final response for your records.
Go to IRS.gov/Pub17 to get Pub. 17, Your Federal Income Tax for Individuals, which features details on tax-saving opportunities, 2017 tax changes, and thousands of interactive links to help you find answers to your questions. View it online in HTML, as a PDF, or download it to your mobile device as an eBook.
You may also be able to access tax law information in your electronic filing software.
The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent organization within the IRS that helps taxpayers and protects taxpayer rights. Our job is to ensure that every taxpayer is treated fairly and that you know and understand your rights under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
We can help you resolve problems that you can’t resolve with the IRS. And our service is free. If you qualify for our assistance, you will be assigned to one advocate who will work with you throughout the process and will do everything possible to resolve your issue. TAS can help you if:
Your problem is causing financial difficulty for you, your family, or your business,
You face (or your business is facing) an immediate threat of adverse action, or
You’ve tried repeatedly to contact the IRS but no one has responded, or the IRS hasn’t responded by the date promised.
We have offices in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Your local advocate’s number is in your local directory and at TaxpayerAdvocate.IRS.gov/Contact-Us. You can also call us at 1-877-777-4778.
The Taxpayer Bill of Rights describes 10 basic rights that all taxpayers have when dealing with the IRS. Our Tax Toolkit at TaxpayerAdvocate.IRS.gov can help you understand what these rights mean to you and how they apply. These are your rights. Know them. Use them.
TAS works to resolve large-scale problems that affect many taxpayers. If you know of one of these broad issues, please report it to us at IRS.gov/SAMS.
Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) are independent from the IRS. LITCs represent individuals whose income is below a certain level and need to resolve tax problems with the IRS, such as audits, appeals, and tax collection disputes. In addition, clinics can provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language. Services are offered for free or a small fee. To find a clinic near you, visit TaxpayerAdvocate.IRS.gov/LITCmap or see IRS Publication 4134, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List.
- CAF number, Authorization for Special Appearances
- Certified public accountants (CPAs), Certified public accountants (CPAs).
- Corporations, Corporations, associations, partnerships, and other persons that are not individuals.
- CPAs (see Certified public accountants (CPAs))
- Glossary, Practice Before the IRS
- Office of Professional Responsibility, Practice Before the IRS
- Partnership representatives, What's New
- Partnerships, Corporations, associations, partnerships, and other persons that are not individuals.
- Power of attorney, What Is a Power of Attorney?, When Is a Power of Attorney Required?, Where To File a Power of Attorney, When Is a Power of Attorney Not Required?, What Happens to the Power of Attorney When Filed?
- Practice before the IRS, What Is Practice Before the IRS?, Who Can Practice Before the IRS?, Who May Not Practice Before the IRS?
- Processing a non-IRS power of attorney, Processing a non-IRS power of attorney.
- Protected communication
- Tax shelters, Communications regarding corporate tax shelters.
- Publications (see Tax help)
- Unenrolled individuals, Other individuals who may serve as representatives.
- Employee, Other individuals who may serve as representatives.
- Family member, Other individuals who may serve as representatives.
- Fiduciary, Other individuals who may serve as representatives.
- Individual, Other individuals who may serve as representatives.
- Officer, Other individuals who may serve as representatives.
- Partner, Other individuals who may serve as representatives.
- Unenrolled return preparer, Unenrolled return preparers.
- Where to file, Where To File a Power of Attorney