You may have heard the term "power of attorney" in the context of giving someone the legal right to make medical or financial decisions on your behalf. Using Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, doesn't grant the IRS such broad powers.
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It only authorizes another individual to deal with the IRS for you. This can include:
- negotiating a payment plan,
- signing on your behalf,
- receiving copies of IRS notices,
- responding to notices on your behalf,
- accessing transcripts from your IRS account and
- appealing a dispute with the IRS.
When do you need Form 2848?
Not just anyone can be granted power of attorney with the IRS. While you can authorize immediate family members to act on your behalf, this form is most often used to authorize a tax professional to deal with the IRS for you. This includes:
- Enrolled agents
- Enrolled actuaries
- Unenrolled return preparers (only if they prepared the tax return in question)
- Corporate officers or full-time employees (for business tax matters)
- Enrolled retirement plan agents (for retirement plan tax matters)
- Representatives who work in a qualified Low Income Taxpayer Clinic or Student Tax Clinic Program
There are several reasons you might want to appoint an IRS power of attorney. For example,
- If you're being audited by the IRS, giving your CPA power of attorney allows them to work directly with the auditor.
- If you have a medical condition that makes it difficult for you to communicate with the IRS, you can give a family member the authority to call the IRS to discuss your tax issues.
- If you have an unresolved tax debt, a power of attorney allows your lawyer to negotiate payment arrangements.
You can list up to three representatives on the form. By checking a box under the person's name, you can authorize the IRS to send copies of any confidential tax information to them. This includes copies of tax return transcripts and IRS notices.
Form 2848 also allows you to define the scope of authority you wish to give your representative, depending on how you fill out line 3 in Part I. When completing this section, you need to provide the specific issue(s), the types of forms involved and the year(s) to which this authority applies.
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For example, if you want to allow an enrolled agent to discuss your 2019 Form 1040 income tax return with the IRS, you will enter Income, Form 1040 and 2019 on line 3. By limiting their scope of authority, you ensure that the representative can't discuss other types of tax returns or other tax years without your authorization.
Make sure you don't leave line 3 blank. If you do or if you use general terms like "all taxes" or "all years" in this section, the IRS will reject your power of attorney request.
Where to file an IRS power of attorney
After you've finished filling out Form 2848, you (and your spouse, if you're married) need to sign it and get a signature from your representative. Then it's time to send it to the IRS.
If you're already working with an IRS representative, they may request that you fax the form to a certain number. Otherwise, you'll need to mail or fax it to the IRS. That mailing address or fax number depends on the state in which you live. You can find the address and fax number for your state in the 'Where to File Chart' included with the IRS Instructions for Form 2848.
An IRS power of attorney stays in effect for seven years, or until you or your representative rescinds it. To revoke an IRS power of attorney, you either file a new form naming someone else as power of attorney or write "REVOKE" across the top of the first page. Then sign and date below the annotation and mail the form to the address listed in the instructions.
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