Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 2848, which is titled “Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative,” is used to designate a tax professional to represent a client before IRS agents. Filing this document essentially allows you to name a qualified representative to represent you with regard to tax issues and to specify the limits of the representative’s authority.

What is a Power of Attorney (POA) Document?

A Power of Attorney is a document in which you give a third party the legal right to act on your behalf. The form will specify which person may act on your behalf and what types of decisions they have power to execute on your behalf. Credentialed tax professionals such as lawyers, CPAs and enrolled agents can represent a client before any department of the IRS. This form also gives the tax professional access to the client’s prior tax returns and other documents that the IRS may have on file for him or her.

What Does the Form 2848 Authorize?

When you sign a Form 2848, you give your agent – be it a CPA, attorney or any other person designated as your agent – the authority to make certain decisions on your behalf such as:

  • The authority to receive confidential tax information.
  • The ability to perform certain actions on your behalf such as signing an agreement with the IRS regarding taxes on returns specified on Form 2848.
  • If you are unable to sign a tax return under certain specific circumstances, your agent who has the power of attorney can sign it for you. Examples of instances where this could be allowed include if you are hospitalized, ill or on vacation.

However, the Form 2848 does not authorized to make all tax decisions on your behalf. For example, your age cannot endorse or negotiate a refund check or direct that a refund be directly deposited into the agent’s account. If you would like to substitute another agent, you would be required to specifically authorize that individual. If you would like someone to see your tax return, but don’t want him or her to make decisions on your behalf, you can sign a Form 8821 (Tax Information Authorization).

How Do You Fill Out Form 2848?

You may file this form by snail mail or electronically. The form’s instructions have the appropriate mailing addresses. Even though the filing for IRS power of attorney is fairly simple, the steps you take when completing Form 2848 are crucial.

Line 1: Taxpayer Information

Here, you need to include your name, Social Security number or employer identification number and your address. If you are filing a joint return, your spouse’s information should also be included. Corporations must include name, employer identification number, and the business address.

Line 2: Representative

On this line, you will enter your representative’s full name. It is important to use the full name in all your correspondence with the IRS in order to avoid any confusion or errors. You can name up to three representatives. You should also enter the nine-digit CAF number for each named representative. A CAF number is a unique nine-digit identification number and is assigned the first time you file a third party authorization with IRS.

Line 3: Tax Matters

On this line, you should specify the type of tax, form number and years. It is critical to be as specific as possible.

Line 4: Specific Uses Not Recorded on CAF

Check the box listed on Line 4 if the IRS power of attorney is for a use that will not be named on the CAF. An IRS power of attorney will not be recorded if it does not relate to a specific period.

Line 5: Acts Authorized

This is the line where you would specify what changes you are making to the acts the authorized individuals could perform on your behalf. Describe the changes in detail. For example, be specific if your are substituting representatives or giving someone else the authority to sign your return.

Line 6: Receipt of Refund Checks

If you would like your representative to be able to receive refund checks, but not endorse them, you must make this clear on line 6 by initialing and filling in that person’s full name.

Line 7: Notices and Communications

All notices and communications from the IRS will be sent to you and the representative who is listed on the form.

Line 8: Retention/Revocation of Prior Power(s) of Attorney

If there is an existing IRS power of attorney that you do not want to revoke, check the box provided on this line and attach a copy of the power(s) of attorney.

Line 9: Signature of Taxpayers

You must sign and date the IRS power of attorney. If you are filing a joint return, both spouses will be required to sign. In the case of a corporation, its officer will be required to sign.

The second part of the form is where your representative signs and dates while also entering his or her designation such as “IRS tax attorney,” “certified public accountant,” or enrolled agent, etc.

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