IRS Tax Forms  
Publication 947 2001 Tax Year

Authorizing a Representative

You may either represent yourself, or you may grant an individual power of attorney (legal authority) to represent you before the IRS. Your representative must be a person allowed to practice before the IRS. See Who Can Practice Before the IRS, earlier.

What Is a Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is your written authorization for an individual to act for you in tax matters. If the authorization is not limited, the individual can generally perform all acts that you can perform. The authority granted to an unenrolled preparer cannot exceed that allowed under the special rules of limited practice described in Publication 470.

Acts performed. Any representative, other than an unenrolled preparer, can usually perform the following acts.

  1. Represent you before any office of the IRS.
  2. Record the interview.
  3. Sign an offer or a waiver of restriction on assessment or collection of a tax deficiency, or a waiver of notice of disallowance of claim for credit or refund.
  4. Sign a consent to extend the statutory time period for assessment or collection of a tax.
  5. Sign a closing agreement.
  6. Receive, but not endorse or cash, a refund check drawn on the U.S. Treasury. You must specifically initial Form 2848 (see Form Required, later) showing the name of the individual designated to receive the refund check.

Signing your return. The representative named under a power of attorney is not permitted to sign your personal income tax return unless:

  1. The signature is permitted under the Internal Revenue Code and the related regulations (see section 1.6012-1(a)(5) of the Income Tax Regulations), and
  2. You authorize this in your power of attorney.

For example, the regulation permits a representative to sign your return if you are unable to make the return for any of the following reasons.

  • Disease or injury.
  • Continuous absence from the United States (including Puerto Rico) for a period of at least 60 days prior to the date required by law for filing the return.
  • Other good cause if specific permission is requested of and granted by the district director.

For more information, see the Form 2848 instructions.

Endorsing or cashing your refund check. If you want your representative to receive a refund check on your behalf, you must specifically authorize this in your power of attorney as discussed earlier in item 6 under Acts performed. However, if your representative is an income tax return preparer, he or she cannot be authorized to endorse or otherwise cash your check related to income taxes. If you want someone else to endorse or cash that check, follow the rules in Treasury Department Circular No. 21, as amended, 31 CFR part 240.

Limitation on substitution or delegation. The appointed representative can substitute a representative or delegate authority to a new representative only if the act is specifically authorized under the power of attorney.

Incapacity or incompetency. A power of attorney is generally terminated if you become incapacitated or incompetent.

The power of attorney can continue, however, in the case of your incapacity or incompetency if you authorize this on the Form 2848, or if your non-IRS durable power of attorney meets all the requirements for acceptance by the IRS. See Non-IRS powers of attorney, later.

When Is a Power of Attorney Required

Submit a power of attorney when you want to authorize an individual to represent you before the IRS, whether or not the representative performs any of the other acts cited above 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:

  1. Represent you at a conference with the IRS.
  2. Prepare and file a written response to the IRS.

Form Required

Use Form 2848 to appoint a representative to act on your behalf before the IRS. You can file this form only if you want to name a person(s) to represent you and that person is a person recognized to practice before the IRS. Persons recognized to practice before the IRS are listed under Part II, Declaration of Representative, of Form 2848. Your representative must complete that part of the form.

Unenrolled return preparers. Use Form 2848 to appoint an unenrolled return preparer as your representative.

The authority of the preparer is limited as described in Revenue Procedure 81-38 (Publication 470). The preparer can represent you only before revenue agents and examining officers of the Examination Division of the IRS. Also, the preparer can represent you concerning your tax liability only for the period covered by a return prepared by the preparer. For more information about the limitations on enrolled return preparers, see Limited practice, under Unenrolled return preparers, earlier.

Non-IRS powers of attorney. The IRS will accept a non-IRS power of attorney, but a completed "transmittal" Form 2848 must be attached in order for the power of attorney to be entered into the Centralized Authorization File (CAF). For more information, see Processing a non-IRS power of attorney, later. If you want to use a power of attorney document other than Form 2848, it must contain the following information.

  • Your name and mailing address.
  • Your social security number and/or employer identification number.
  • Your employee plan number, if applicable.
  • The name and mailing address of your representative.
  • The types of tax involved.
  • The federal tax form number.
  • The specific year(s) or period(s) involved.
  • For estate tax matters, the decedent's date of death.
  • A clear expression of your intention concerning the scope of authority granted to your representative.
  • Your signature and date.

You also must attach to the non-IRS power of attorney a signed and dated statement made by your representative. This statement, which is referred to as the "Declaration of Representative," is contained in Part II of Form 2848. The statement should read:

  1. I am not currently under suspension or disbarment from practice before the Internal Revenue Service;
  2. I am aware of the regulations contained in Treasury Department Circular No. 230 (31 CFR, Part 10) concerning the practice of attorneys, certified public accountants, enrolled agents, enrolled actuaries, and others;
  3. I am authorized to represent the taxpayer(s) identified in the power of attorney; and
  4. I am authorized to practice before the Internal Revenue Service as an individual described in 26 CFR 601.502(a). See Who Can Practice Before the IRS, earlier.

Required information missing. If your non-IRS power of attorney does not contain all the required information discussed above, you may want to sign and submit a Form 2848 or a new non-IRS power of attorney that contains the necessary information. Or, if you cannot sign an acceptable replacement document, your attorney-in-fact may be able to perfect (make acceptable to the IRS) your non-IRS power of attorney by using the following procedure.

Procedure for perfecting a non-IRS power of attorney. Under this procedure, the attorney-in-fact named in your non-IRS power of attorney can sign a Form 2848 on your behalf under the following conditions:

  1. The original non-IRS power of attorney grants authority to handle federal tax matters (general authority to perform any acts, for example), and
  2. The attorney-in-fact attaches a statement (signed under penalty of perjury) to the Form 2848 stating that the original non-IRS power of attorney is valid under the laws of the governing jurisdiction.

The Form 2848 prepared by your attorney-in-fact should be signed in the following manner: "Jane Taxpayer (your name), by John Attorney (your attorney-in-fact's name) under authority of the attached power of attorney."

The individual named as representative in the Form 2848 can be the attorney-in-fact named in the original power of attorney or any other individual recognized to practice before the IRS.

Example. John Elm, a taxpayer, signs a durable power of attorney that names his neighbor, Ed Larch, as his attorney-in-fact. The power of attorney grants Ed the authority to perform any and all acts on John's behalf. However, it does not list specific tax-related information such as types of tax or tax form numbers.

Shortly after John signs the power of attorney, he is declared incompetent. Later, a federal tax matter arises concerning a prior year return filed by John. Ed attempts to represent John before the IRS, but is rejected because the durable power of attorney does not contain required information.

If Ed attaches a statement (signed under the penalty of perjury) that the durable power of attorney is valid under the laws of the governing jurisdiction, he can sign a completed Form 2848 and submit it on John's behalf. If Ed can practice before the IRS (see Who Can Practice Before the IRS, earlier), he can name himself as representative on Form 2848; otherwise, he must name another individual who can practice before the IRS.

Processing a non-IRS power of attorney. The IRS has a centralized computer database called the CAF that contains information on the authority of taxpayer representatives. Generally, when you submit a power of attorney document to the IRS, it is processed for inclusion in the CAF. Entry of your power of attorney into the CAF enables IRS personnel, who do not have a copy of your power of attorney, to verify the authority of your representative by accessing the central computer file. It also enables the IRS to automatically send copies of notices and other IRS communications to your representative.

You can have your non-IRS power of attorney entered into the CAF by attaching it to a completed "transmittal" Form 2848 and submitting it to the IRS. You do not have to sign the transmittal Form 2848, but, in the space provided for your signature, you should enter the words "For Transmittal Purposes Only." Also, your attorney-in-fact must sign the Declaration of Representative (see Part II of Form 2848).

Preparation of Form - Helpful Hints

The preparation of Form 2848 is illustrated by an example, later, under How Do I Fill Out Form 2848. However, the following will also assist you in preparing the form.

Line-by-line hints. The following hints are summaries of some of the line-by-line instructions for Form 2848.

Line 1-Taxpayer Information. If a joint return is involved and you and your spouse have different addresses, you must enter each address. If you and your spouse choose different representatives, each of you must file a Form 2848.

Line 2-Representative. Only individuals can represent you. If your representative has not been assigned a CAF number, enter "None" on that line and the IRS will issue one to him or her. If the representative's address or phone number has changed since the CAF number was issued, you should check the appropriate box.

If you want to name more than three representatives, you must attach a list of the additional representatives to the form. Normally, the IRS will send notices and other written communications to you and a copy to the first representative listed. However, you can choose other options (see line 7 of Form 2848).

Line 3-Tax Matters. You can list any tax years or periods that ended before the date the form is signed. You also may list future periods that end no later than 3 years from that date. However, avoid general references such as "all years" or "all periods."

If the "type of tax,""tax form number," or "year(s) or period(s)" column does not apply to your particular tax matter, you should enter "not applicable" in that column and, instead, describe the matter.

Line 4-Specific Uses Not Recorded on Centralized Authorization File (CAF). Certain matters cannot be recorded onto the CAF system. Examples of such matters include, but are not limited to, the following.

  1. Civil penalty issues.
  2. Trust fund recovery penalties.
  3. Requests for a private letter ruling.
  4. Applications for an employer identification number.
  5. Claims filed on Form 843, Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement.
  6. Corporate dissolutions.
  7. Requests for change of accounting method.
  8. Requests for change of accounting period.

If the tax matter described on line 3 of Form 2848 concerns one of these matters specifically, check the box on this line (line 4). If this line is checked, your representative should bring a copy of the power of attorney to each IRS office where the specific matter will be discussed.

Where To File a Power of Attorney

File the power of attorney with each IRS office with which you deal. If the power of attorney is filed for a matter currently pending before an office of the IRS, such as an examination, file the power of attorney with that office. Otherwise, file it with the service center where the related return was, or will be, filed. Refer to the instructions for the related tax return for the service center address.

Facsimile copies. The IRS will accept a copy of a power of attorney that is submitted by facsimile transmission (FAX). If you choose to file a power of attorney by FAX, be sure the appropriate IRS office is equipped to accept this type of transmission.

Powers of attorney may be filed directly with the CAF units at the service center where you filed, or will file your tax return(s) shown on the power of attorney form. The FAX telephone numbers of the CAF units are as follows:

Service Center Voice FAX
Austin 512-460-0006 512-460-0176
Andover 978-474-5276 978-474-9405
Brookhaven 516-654-6680 516-654-6583
Atlanta 678-530-6394 678-530-6393
Cincinnati 606-292-5768 606-292-5185
Fresno* 559-454-7180 559-454-6334
Odgen 801-620-6473 801-620-6671
Memphis 901-546-4176 901-546-4115
Philadelphia 215-516-4779 215-516-5994
Kansas City** 816-926-5960 816-823-2076

* The 559 area code is effective April 1999.
**This CAF unit is available weekdays after 4:00 P.M. central standard time.

Updating power of attorney. To update Form 2848, tell the IRS when any information on the form changes. Do this by writing a letter to the IRS office(s) where you filed the power of attorney, or file a new power of attorney.

Revoking a power of attorney. If you want to revoke an existing power of attorney and do not want to name a new representative, there are two ways to do it. You can revoke a power of attorney by sending a revocation copy of Form 2848 to each office of the IRS where you originally filed the form. You should also send a copy to the service center where you filed the return for the matter covered by the power of attorney. If you do not have a copy, you can revoke by filing a revocation statement with the same places you would send a revocation copy.

Revocation copy. A revocation copy is a copy of the original Form 2848 that you revise as follows:

  1. Write the word "REVOKE" at the top center of page 1, and
  2. Sign and date it at the bottom of page 2 following the Declaration of Representative section.

Revocation statement. The statement of revocation must indicate that the authority of the power of attorney is revoked and it must list the name and address of each recognized representative whose authority is revoked. You must sign the statement.

Revoking a non-IRS power of attorney. If you want to revoke a power of attorney for which a Form 2848 was not filed, write a letter requesting the revocation and attach a copy of the power of attorney that you want to be revoked. Sign and date the letter, and send it to each office of the IRS where you originally filed the non-IRS power of attorney.

Automatic revocation of power of attorney (or tax information authorization). Unless you specify otherwise on the form (line 8, Part I), a newly filed power of attorney concerning the same matter will revoke a previously filed power of attorney, but not a previously filed tax information authorization.

Similarly, a newly filed tax information authorization will revoke a previously filed tax information authorization concerning the same tax matter, but will not revoke a power of attorney concerning that matter.

When Is a Power of Attorney Not Required

The following situations do not require a power of attorney.

Providing information to the IRS. A power of attorney is not required when a person is merely furnishing information at the request of the IRS.

Disclosure of tax return information. You are not required to file a power of attorney to authorize the IRS to disclose information concerning your tax account(s) to an individual (whether or not the individual is authorized to practice before the IRS) or other party (such as a corporation, a partnership, or an association). For this purpose, you can use Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization. Form 8821 is strictly a disclosure authorization form and cannot be used to name an individual to represent you before the IRS. If you want to name a representative, you should use Form 2848.

Form 8821 example. The following example illustrates Form 8821. The filled-in form is illustrated on the following page.

Example. John Oak wants his associate, Jane Birch, to be informed about his personal tax accounts. To have this information disclosed to Jane, John fills out Form 8821. Since this is only a disclosure form, it will not give Jane any power to represent John before the IRS.

When you file a Form 8821 with the IRS, it also is processed for entry into the CAF. Entry into the file enables the IRS to send copies of notices and other IRS communications to the person (individual or other entity) designated on the form.

A tax matters partner or person (TMP). A TMP is authorized by law (see sections 6231(a)(7) of the Internal Revenue Code) to perform various acts on behalf of a partnership or subchapter S corporation. This may include the power to delegate authority to represent the TMP and to sign documents in that capacity. But certain acts performed by the TMP cannot be delegated. Sections 6221 through 6234 and sections 6240 through 6255 of the Internal Revenue Code and the related regulations discuss "partnership level" tax proceedings and the responsibilities of the TMP.

Fiduciary. A fiduciary (trustee, executor, administrator, receiver, or guardian) stands in the position of the taxpayer and acts as the taxpayer. Therefore, a fiduciary does not act as a representative and should not file a power of attorney. However, a fiduciary should file Form 56, Notice Concerning Fiduciary Relationship, to notify the IRS of the fiduciary relationship.

Filled-in Form 8821

How Do I Fill Out Form 2848

The following example illustrates how to complete Form 2848. The filled-in form follows the example.

Example. Stan and Mary Doe have been notified that their joint tax return (Form 1040) for 1998 is being examined. They have decided to appoint Jim Smith, an enrolled agent, to represent them in this matter and any future matters concerning the return. Jim, who has prepared returns at the same location for years, already has a Centralized Authorization File (CAF) number assigned to him. Stan and Mary do not want Jim to sign any agreements to pay additional taxes or to receive any refund checks. They want copies of all notices and written communications to be sent to Jim. This is the first time Stan and Mary have given power of attorney to anyone. They should complete one Form 2848 as follows:

Line 1-Taxpayer Information. They enter their names, street address, and social security numbers in the spaces provided.

Line 2-Representatives. They enter the name and current address of their chosen representative, Jim Smith. They also enter Mr. Smith's CAF number, his telephone number, and his FAX number. Since Mr. Smith's address and telephone number have not changed since the IRS issued his CAF number, Stan and Mary do not check either box in the second column.

Line 3-Tax Matters. They enter "income" for the type of tax, "1040" for the form number, and "1998" for the tax year.

Line 4-Specific Uses Not Recorded on CAF. Stan and Mary make no entry on this line because they do not want to restrict the use for their power of attorney to a specific use that is not recorded on the CAF. See Preparation of Form - Helpful Hints, earlier.

Line 5-Acts Authorized. Because Stan and Mary want to sign any agreement form that reflects changes to their 1998 income tax liability, they restrict the acts Mr. Smith is authorized to perform by writing "taxpayers must sign any agreement form" on line 5. If they had chosen, they could have listed other restrictions on line 5.

Line 6-Receipt of Refund Checks. They make no entry on line 6 because they want any refund checks sent directly to them.

Line 7-Notices and Communications. Stan and Mary make no entry on line 7 because they want the original notices and communications sent to them, and the copies sent to Mr. Smith.

Line 8-Retention/Revocation of Prior Powers of Attorney. Since Stan and Mary are filing their first power of attorney, they make no entry on this line. However, if they had filed prior powers of attorney, the filing of this current power would automatically revoke any earlier ones for the same tax matter(s). Therefore, to retain an earlier power of attorney, they would need to check the box on line 8 and attach a copy of the prior power of attorney that they want to maintain.

If Stan and Mary decide later that they can handle the examination on their own, they can revoke the power of attorney. (See Revoking a power of attorney, earlier for the special rules.)

Line 9-Signature of Taxpayer(s). Because this is a joint authorization (see line 1), both Stan and Mary must sign and date the form. If they do not, the IRS cannot accept it.

Part II-Declaration of Representative. Jim Smith must complete this part of Form 2848. If he does not sign this part, IRS cannot accept the form.

What Happens to the Power of Attorney When Filed

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 into the CAF system, IRS personnel other than the individual to whom the form is submitted may be unaware of the authority of the person you have named to represent you. Therefore, during this interim, other IRS personnel who do not have access to a copy of your power of attorney may request that you or your representative submit an additional copy.

Processing and Handling

Processing and handling of the power of attorney submitted differs depending on whether it is a complete or incomplete document.

Incomplete documents. If the power of attorney document is incomplete, the IRS will attempt to secure the missing information either by writing or telephoning you or your representative. For example, if your signature or signature date is missing, the IRS will contact you. Also, if information concerning your representative is missing and information sufficient to make a contact (such as an address and/or a telephone number) is on the document, the IRS will attempt to contact your representative.

In either case, the power of attorney is not considered valid until all required information is entered on the document. The individual(s) named as representative(s) will not be recognized to practice before the IRS until the document is complete and accepted by the IRS.

Complete documents. When the IRS receives a complete and valid power of attorney, the IRS will then take action to recognize the representative. In most instances, this involves processing the document into the CAF system. Recording the data on the CAF enables the IRS to automatically direct copies of mailings to authorized representatives and to instantly recognize the scope of authority granted.

Filled-in Form 2848 - Page 1

Filled-in Form 2848 - Page 2

Documents not processed on CAF. Specific-use powers of attorney, however, are not processed into the CAF (see Preparation of Form - Helpful Hints, earlier). For example, a power of attorney that is a one-time or specific-issue grant of authority is not processed on the CAF. These documents remain with the related case files. In this situation, check the box on line 4 of Form 2848. If it is checked, the representative should bring a copy of the power of attorney to each meeting with the IRS.

Dealing With the Representative

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 lists of required items. But, 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 Director of Practice for consideration of possible disciplinary action.

Notices and other correspondence. If you have a recognized representative, you and the representative will receive required notices and other correspondence from the IRS (either the original or a copy), unless you checked box (c) on line 7 of Form 2848 or placed a similar restriction on your authorization of a representative (power of attorney). If the power of attorney is processed on the CAF, the IRS will send your representative(s) a duplicate of all computer-generated correspondence that is sent to you. (This includes notices and letters produced either at our service centers or at the Martinsburg Computing Center.) The IRS employee handling the case is responsible for ensuring that the original and any requested copies of each manually-generated correspondence are sent to you and your representative(s) in accordance with your authorization.

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