If the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) decides to investigate your income tax return, you may need to use an IRS power of attorney form to appoint a qualified representative. This form is known as IRS Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative.
A properly completed Form 2848 allows an authorized individual to:
- Receive and inspect a taxpayer’s confidential tax information
- Perform specific acts on behalf of the taxpayer
This article will walk you through the basics of this tax form, including:
- What Form 2848 can do
- What Form 2848 does not do
- Tax forms a taxpayer may use instead of IRS Form 2848
- How to complete Form 2848
Let’s start with what IRS Form 2848 is used for.
What is IRS Form 2848 used for?
A taxpayer may use IRS Form 2848 to authorize an individual to represent that taxpayer in federal tax matters before the IRS. However, the individual must be eligible to practice before the IRS, as outlined in Part II of this form.
Who is authorized to practice in front of the IRS?
According to this tax form, these individuals are authorized to practice before the IRS.
The attorney must be a member in good standing of the bar of the highest court in the jurisdiction described in Part II of the form. Although any attorney can meet this criteria, this usually would be a tax attorney.
Certified Public Accountant
A certified public accountant (CPA) must hold an active license to practice as a CPA in the jurisdiction outlined in Part II of this form.
An enrolled agent is a person authorized to practice before the IRS per the requirements outlined in Circular 230.
Must be a bona fide officer of the taxpayer organization he or she is representing.
Must be a full-time employee of the taxpayer.
Must be a member of the taxpayer’s immediate family. This includes the following members:
Must be enrolled as an actuary by the Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries under 29 U.S.C. 1242. This authority to practice before the IRS is limited to certain areas of the tax code by Section 10.3(d) of Circular 230).
Unenrolled tax return preparer
An unenrolled tax return preparer has limited authority to practice before the IRS. An unenrolled return preparer may represent in the following situations:
- The preparer prepared and signed the tax return or claim for refund, or at least prepared the form if there is no signature space
- The preparer was eligible to sign
- The preparer has a valid preparer tax identification number (PTIN)
- The tax preparer has the required Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion.
There is more information in the Special Rules and Requirements for Unenrolled Return Preparers section of the tax form instructions.
Qualifying student or law school graduate
A qualifying student or law graduate receives permission to represent taxpayers before the IRS by virtue of his/her status as a law, business, or accounting student, or law graduate working in a low income taxpayer clinic (LITC) or student tax clinic program (STCP)
However, that student or graduate must name their lead attorney or CPA first, then themselves on the next line of the Form 2848.
Enrolled retirement plan agent
Must be enrolled as a retirement plan agent under the requirements of Circular 230. This authority to practice before the IRS is limited to certain areas of the tax code by Section 10.3(e) of Circular 230.
All representatives must declare, under penalty of perjury, the following:
- I am not currently suspended or disbarred from practice, or ineligible for practice, before the IRS
- I am subject to regulations in Circular 230 (31 CFR, Subtitle A, Part 10), as amended, governing practice before the Internal Revenue Service
- I am authorized to represent the taxpayer identified in Part I for the matter(s) specified there
Generally speaking, all attorneys, CPAs, enrolled agents, enrolled actuaries, and enrolled retirement plan agents are considered tax professionals or tax practitioners.
What your representative can do for you.
By completing IRS Form 2848, a taxpayer acknowledges that their qualified representative will be able to receive and inspect the taxpayer’s confidential tax information.
Taxpayers can file Form 2848, if the IRS begins a Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) examination as a result of an income tax examination. The Representation for FBAR Issues Section of Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) contains more information.
What other tax forms might I use instead of IRS Form 2848?
If you do not want your third-party representatives to be an authorized representative, you may consider one of these forms instead.
IRS Form 8821
IRS Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization, allows a taxpayer to authorize an individual or organization to inspect and/or receive confidential tax return information. However, this tax form does not grant any powers of attorney or representation powers before the IRS.
IRS Form 56
IRS Form 56, Notice Concerning Fiduciary Relationship, informs the IRS of the existence of a fiduciary relationship.
A fiduciary can be one of the following:
A fiduciary stands in the position of a taxpayer and acts as the taxpayer, not as an authorized representative.
How to I complete IRS Form 2848?
There are two parts to this form. However, we will break it down step by step, so you can fully understand each field. Let’s take a closer look by starting at the top of the form.
Part I: Power of Attorney
This section contains the information about the powers delegated to the representative. Before we go through each line, it’s important to note that each taxpayer must complete separate forms. In other words, a tax professional cannot have a blanket grant of authority on behalf of multiple taxpayers.
Line 1: Taxpayer information
Line 1 contains the taxpayer’s information. This includes:
- Taxpayer’s name and address
- Taxpayer identification number (TIN). This might be a Social Security number, individual tax identification number (ITIN), or employer identification number (EIN).
- Daytime telephone number
- Plan number, if applicable. This applies primarily to employee plans.
The form instructions contain more detailed information.
Line 2: Representative(s)
This form allows up to 4 designated representatives. For each designated representative, include the following information:
- Name and address
- CAF Number
- Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN)
- Telephone Number
- Fax number
Also, check the appropriate box if there is a new address, telephone number, or fax number. Additionally, the taxpayer may check a box to allow the IRS to send notices and communication for up to two designated representatives.
Line 3: Acts authorized
In order for the power of attorney to be valid, you must enter the following:
- Description of the matter (i.e. type of tax)
- Tax form number (where applicable), and
- Year(s) or period(s) where applicable
For example, a taxpayer may list “Income, 1040” for calendar “2019.” A taxpayer may list consecutive multiple years, or a series of inclusive periods, like:
- 2018 through 2020
- 2nd 2018-3rd 2019
Representation only applies for the periods listed on Line 3, and only the tax forms directly related to the listed taxpayer.
Although a taxpayer may list future tax years or periods, the IRS will not record future tax years or periods that exceed 3 years from December 31 of the year that the IRS receives the power of attorney form.
There are some additional rules that apply, based on the form instructions.
If this is not a tax matter, or the tax form number or periods do not apply, then the taxpayer must specifically describe the matter to which the power of attorney pertains.
Spouses who filed a joint return (or multiple returns) must execute their own separate power of attorney on Form 2848.
Line 4: Specific use not recorded on the Centralized Authorization File (CAF)
There may be specific, one-time reasons to authorize a power of attorney, in a limited situation. These acts are not recorded on the CAF. Examples include:
- Requests for a private letter ruling or technical advice. Rev. Proc. 2021-1 applies.
- Applications for an EIN
- Claims filed on Form 843, Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement
- Corporate dissolutions
- Circular 230 disciplinary investigations and proceedings
- Requests to change accounting methods or periods
- Applications for recognition of exemption under IRC sections 501(c)(3), 501(a), or 521 (Forms 1023, 1024, or 1028)
- Request for a determination of the qualified status of an employee benefit plan (Forms 5300, 5307, 5316, or 5310)
- Applications for an ITIN filed on Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
- Applications for an exemption from self-employment tax filed on Form 4361, Application for Exemption From Self-Employment Tax for Use by Ministers, Members of Religious Orders and Christian Science Practitioners
- Application for Award for Original Information under IRC Section 7623 (whistleblower law)
- Voluntary submissions under the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS) and
- Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
If applicable, check the box. Checking this box will not revoke the original power of attorney, if one is already recorded on the CAF.
Line 5a: Additional acts authorized
A taxpayer may select additional acts authorized, including:
- Accessing taxpayer’s IRS records through an Intermediate Service Provider (ISP)
- If you do not authorize the use of an Intermediate Service Provider, your representative can obtain your tax information directly from the IRS by using the IRS e-Services Transcript Delivery System
- Authorized disclosure to third parties
- Substitute or adding representatives
- Signing a return
- Per Treasury Regulations Section 1.6012-1(a)(5), only authorized if the taxpayer is sick or injured, continuously out of the United States, or specific permission is granted by the IRS
- Other specific acts
Line 5b: Specific acts not authorized.
The taxpayer may specify any act in which the authorized power of attorney does not have the taxpayer’s express permission to perform. Under no circumstances may a representative:
- Endorse or negotiate a check
- Accept payment or direct payment into an account owned or controlled by the representative or associated entity
Line 6: Retention/Revocation of prior power(s) of attorney
Unless otherwise directed, this power of attorney nullifies other power of attorney forms on file for the same matters, years, or periods covered by this form.
If there is a power of attorney the taxpayer does not want to revoke, the taxpayer must:
- Check the box in Line 6, and
- Attach a copy of the power of attorney to remain in effect
Line 7: Taxpayer declaration and signature
This field includes the taxpayer printed name, date, and signature.
Part II: Declaration of Representative
Part II contains a declaration of the taxpayer’s representative that he or she meets the IRS criteria for representation.
Each representative will enter:
- The corresponding letter (a-r) of their qualification
- Licensing jurisdiction or authority
- Bar, license, certification, registration, or enrollment number (if applicable)
Frequently asked questions about IRS Form 2848
Below are some frequently asked questions about IRS Form 2848.
How do I revoke an IRS power of attorney form?
You may revoke an existing power of attorney by filing a new Form 2848, and not checking the box on Line 6. If you do not choose to add a new power of attorney, you may simply file a new form, write “REVOKE” across the top, and sign and date the form.
From there, fax or mail a copy of the existing power of attorney to the appropriate IRS office. See the form instructions for more details.
If your designated representative wishes to withdraw, he or she would file a form, writing “WITHDRAW” across the top, and follow similar instructions.
Do I have to use IRS Form 2848 as my power of attorney form?
No. But your power of attorney must meet the requirements outlined in IRS Publication 216, Conference and Practice Requirements, and 26 CFR 601.503(a). Additionally, Form 2848 must accompany the form if you wish it to be recorded in the CAF.
Can I sign IRS Form 2848 electronically?
Yes. Forms 2848 with an electronic signature image or digitized image of a handwritten signature may only be submitted to the IRS online at IRS.gov/Submit2848. See the form instructions for more detail.
What is a CAF number?
The IRS maintains the Centralized Authorization File, known as the CAF, to maintain all files in which a taxpayer has designated representatives to receive confidential information on the taxpayer’s behalf. There are three forms that authorize this type of permission:
- IRS Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative
- IRS Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization
- IRS Form 706, U.S. Estate Tax Return
Only employees in the IRS CAF Unit have access to update the CAF.
Where can I find a copy of IRS Form 2848?
You may download a copy of this tax form from the IRS website or by selecting the file below.
After retiring from a 24-year career as a Naval officer in 2017, Forrest became a financial planner to help people achieve success in managing their personal finances. In 2022, he sold his partnership stake in his financial planning firm to focus on helping people full-time through his writing.
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