Enrolled retirement plan agents.(p1)
Enrolled retirement plan agents are now authorized to practice before the IRS under section 10.3(e) of Circular 230. See Enrolled retirement plan agents under Who Can Practice Before the IRS? later.taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148588
The Practitioner Priority Service® is a nationwide, toll-free hotline that provides professional support to practitioners with account-related questions. This service is available weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. local time. The toll-free number for this service is 1-866-860-4259.taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148589
Non-IRS powers of attorney.(p2)
A general, durable, or limited power of attorney will be accepted by the IRS if it satisfies the same requirements stated in Form 2848. If the non-IRS power of attorney does not contain all the required information, the attorney-in-fact (the representative) appointed by the non-IRS power of attorney may be able to add the missing information by attaching a Form 2848. See Non-IRS powers of attorney under When Is a Power of Attorney Required, later.
This publication discusses who can 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), enrolled agents, and enrolled actuaries can represent taxpayers before the IRS. Under special circumstances, other individuals, including unenrolled return preparers, can represent taxpayers before the IRS. For details regarding taxpayer representation, see Who Can Practice Before the IRS, later. This publication also contains a Glossary that defines certain professional titles as well as various terms.
Also covered is the use of Form 8821,Tax Information Authorization, to authorize an individual or certain entities to receive and inspect a taxpayer's confidential tax information. See Disclosure of tax return information under When Is a Power of Attorney Not Required, later. taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148590
Many of the terms used in this publication, such as enrolled agent and practitioner are defined in the Glossary at the back of this publication.taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148591
We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions.
You can email us at *firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put "Publications Comment" on the subject line.
You can write to us at the following address:
Internal Revenue Service
Business Forms and Publications Branch
1111 Constitution Ave. NW, IR-6526
Washington, DC 20224
We respond to many letters by telephone. Therefore, it would be helpful if you would include your daytime phone number, including the area code, in your correspondence.taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#TXMP7211449a
You may want to see:
Publication 1 Your Rights as a Taxpayer 470 Limited Practice Without Enrollment Circular No. 230 Regulations Governing the Practice of Attorneys, Certified Public Accountants, Enrolled Agents, Enrolled Actuaries, and Appraisers before the Internal Revenue Service Form (and Instructions) 2848: Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative 8821: Tax Information Authorizationtaxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148592
See How To Get Tax Help, near the end of this publication, for information about getting publications and forms.taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148593
Words you may need to know (see Glossary)
- Enrolled agent
- Recognized representative
The Office of Professional Responsibility is responsible for administering and enforcing the regulations governing practice before the IRS. These regulations are published as Treasury Department Circular No. 230. The Office's responsibility includes making determinations on applications for enrollment to practice before the IRS and conducting disciplinary proceedings relating to those eligible to practice. taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148594
Practice before the IRS covers all matters relating to any of the following.
- Communicating with the IRS for 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 and filing documents with the IRS for a taxpayer.
- Corresponding and communicating.
Just preparing a tax return, furnishing information at the request of the IRS, or appearing as a witness for the taxpayer is not practice before the IRS. These acts can be performed by anyone.
Any of the following individuals can practice before the IRS. However, any individual who is recognized to practice (a recognized representative) must be designated as the taxpayer's power of attorney 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. taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148596
Any attorney who is not currently under suspension or disbarment from practice before the IRS and who is a member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of any state, possession, territory, commonwealth, or of the District of Columbia may practice before the IRS. taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148597
Any CPA who is not currently under suspension or disbarment from practice before the IRS and who is duly qualified to practice as a CPA in any state, possession, territory, commonwealth, or in the District of Columbia may practice before the IRS. taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148598
Any enrolled agent in active status may practice before the IRS. taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148599
Any enrolled retirement plan agent in active status may practice before the IRS. The practice of enrolled retirement plan agent is limited to certain Internal Revenue Code sections that relate to their area of expertise, principally those sections governing employee retirement plans. taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148600
Any individual who is enrolled as an actuary by the Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries may practice before the IRS. The practice of enrolled actuaries is limited to certain Internal Revenue Code sections that relate to their area of expertise, principally those sections governing employee retirement plans. taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148601
A student who receives permission to practice before the IRS by virtue of their status as a law student under section 10.7(d) of Circular 230. See Students in LITCs and STCP under Authorization for Special Appearances on page 4. taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148602
A student who receives permission to practice before the IRS by virtue of their status as a CPA student under section 10.7(d) of Circular 230. See Students in LITCs and STCP under Authorization for Special Appearances on page 4. taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148603
An unenrolled return preparer is an individual other than an attorney, CPA, enrolled agent, or enrolled actuary who prepares and signs a taxpayer's return as the preparer, or who prepares a return but is not required (by the instructions to the return or regulations) to sign the return.
An unenrolled return preparer is permitted to appear as your representative only before customer service representatives, revenue agents, and examination officers, with respect to an examination regarding the return he or she prepared.
An unenrolled return preparer cannot:
- Represent a taxpayer before other offices of the IRS, such as Collection or Appeals. This includes the Automated Collection System (ACS) unit.
- Execute closing agreements.
- Extend the statutory period for tax assessments or collection of tax.
- Execute waivers.
- Execute claims for refund.
- Receive refund checks.
For more information, see Publication 470.
If the unenrolled return preparer does not meet the requirements for limited representation, you must file Form 8821. The unenrolled return preparer's involvement in your case will be limited to receiving or inspecting your taxpayer information. See Form 8821.taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148604
Any individual engaged in limited practice before the IRS who is involved in disreputable conduct is subject to disciplinary action. Disreputable conduct includes, but is not limited to, the list of items under Disreputable Conduct shown later under What Are the Rules of Practice. taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148605
Because of their special relationship with a taxpayer, the following unenrolled individuals can represent the specified taxpayers before the IRS, provided they present satisfactory identification and, except in the case of an individual described in (1) below, proof of authority to represent the taxpayer.
- An individual. An individual can represent himself or herself before the IRS and does not have to file a written declaration of qualification and authority.
- A family member. An individual can represent members of his or her immediate family. Immediate family means a spouse, child, parent, brother, or sister of the individual.
- An officer. A bona fide officer of a corporation (including a parent, subsidiary, or other affiliated corporation), association, or organized group can represent the corporation, association, or organized group. An officer of a governmental unit, agency, or authority, in the course of his or her official duties, can represent the organization before the IRS.
- A partner. A general partner can represent the partnership before the IRS.
- An employee. A regular full-time employee can represent his or her employer. An employer can be, but is not limited to, an individual, partnership, corporation (including a parent, subsidiary, or other affiliated corporation), association, trust, receivership, guardianship, estate, organized group, governmental unit, agency, or authority.
- A fiduciary. A fiduciary (trustee, executor, administrator, receiver, or guardian) stands in the position of a taxpayer and acts as the taxpayer, not as a representative. See Fiduciary under When Is a Power of Attorney Not Required, later.
Any individual may represent an individual or entity before personnel of the IRS when such representation occurs outside the United States. See section 10.7(c)(1)(vii) of Circular 230. taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148607
The Office of Professional Responsibility 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 Office of Professional Responsibility will issue a letter that details the conditions related to the appearance and the particular tax matter for which the authorization is granted.
The authorization letter from the Office of Professional Responsibility 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 (an identifying number that the IRS assigns representatives). The issuance of a CAF number does not indicate that a person is either recognized or authorized to practice before the IRS. It merely confirms that a centralized file for authorizations has been established for the representative under that number. taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148608
You may authorize a student who works in a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) or Student Tax Clinic Program (STCP) to represent you under a special order issued by the Office of Professional Responsibility.taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148609
In general, individuals who are not eligible or who have lost the privilege as a result of certain actions cannot practice before the IRS. If an individual loses eligibility to practice, his or her power of attorney will not be recognized by the IRS.taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148610
These organizations (or persons) are not eligible to practice before the IRS. taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148611
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 to be placed in an inactive retirement status.
- Being suspended or disbarred by state authorities to practice as an attorney or certified public accountant.
Enrolled agents who fail to comply with the requirements for eligibility for renewal of enrollment will be notified by the Office of Professional Responsibility through first class mail. The notice will explain the reason for noncompliance and provide the enrolled agent with an opportunity to furnish information for reconsideration. The enrolled agent has 60 days from the date of the notice to respond. taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148613
An enrolled agent will be placed on the roster of inactive enrolled individuals for a period of three years, if he or she:
- Fails to respond timely to the notice of noncompliance with the renewal requirements,
- Fails to file timely the application for renewal of enrollment, or
- Does not satisfy the requirements of eligibility for renewal of enrollment.
The enrolled agent must file an application for renewal and
satisfy all requirements for renewal within 3 years of being placed on the roster. After 3 years, he or she will be removed from the roster and the enrollment terminated.
Enrolled agents who request to be placed in an inactive retirement status will be ineligible to practice before the IRS. They must continue to adhere to all renewal requirements. They can be reinstated to an active enrollment status by filing an application for renewal of enrollment and providing evidence that they have completed the required continuing professional education hours. taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148615
Individuals authorized to practice before the IRS are subject to disciplinary proceedings and may be suspended or disbarred for violating any regulation governing practice before the IRS. This includes committing acts of disreputable conduct. For more information, see Disreputable Conduct under What are the Rules of Practice, later.
Practitioners who are suspended in a disciplinary proceeding are not allowed to practice before the IRS during the period of suspension. See What Is Practice Before the IRS, earlier.
Practitioners who are disbarred in a disciplinary proceeding are not allowed to practice before the IRS. However, a practitioner can seek reinstatement from the Office of Professional Responsibility five years after disbarment.
If the practitioner seeks reinstatement, he or she may not practice before the IRS until the Office of Professional Responsibility authorizes reinstatement. The Office of Professional Responsibility may reinstate the practitioner if it is determined that:
- The practitioner's conduct is not likely to be in violation of the regulations, and
- Granting the reinstatement would not be contrary to the public interest.
The Office of Professional Responsibility can grant enrollment to practice before the IRS to an applicant who demonstrates special competence in tax matters by passing a written examination administered by the IRS. Enrollment also can be granted to an applicant who qualifies because of past service and technical experience in the IRS. In either case, certain application forms, discussed next, must be filed.
Additionally, an applicant must not have engaged in any conduct that would justify suspension or disbarment from practice before the IRS. See Disreputable Conduct, later. taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148617
Applicants can apply to take the special enrollment examination by filing Form 2587, Application for Special Enrollment Examination. Part 4 of the form should be mailed with the examination fee to the address shown on the form. The amount of the fee is also shown on Form 2587. The form is revised annually and is available in mid-June each year. The form must be postmarked no later than July 31. To obtain Form 2587, see How To Get Tax Help, later.taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148618
Individuals who have passed the examination or are applying on the basis of past service and technical experience with the IRS can apply for enrollment by filing Form 23, Application for Enrollment to Practice Before the Internal Revenue Service, with the Office of Professional Responsibility. The application must include a check or money order in the amount of the fee shown on Form 23. To obtain Form 23, see How To Get Tax Help, later. taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148619
An enrollment card will be issued to each individual whose application is approved. The individual is enrolled until the expiration date shown on the enrollment card. To continue practicing beyond the expiration date, the individual must request renewal of the enrollment. taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148620
Applicants for renewal of enrollment must file Form 8554, Application for Renewal of Enrollment to Practice Before the Internal Revenue Service. To qualify for renewal, applicants must complete the necessary hours of continuing professional education during each 3-year enrollment cycle. See Form 8554 for more information. To obtain Form 8554, see How To Get Tax Help, later. taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148621
An attorney, CPA, enrolled agent, or enrolled actuary authorized to practice before the IRS (referred to hereafter as a practitioner) 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 engages in disreputable conduct is subject to disciplinary action. Also, unenrolled preparers must comply with the rules of practice and conduct to exercise the privilege of limited practice before the IRS. See Publication 470 for a discussion of the special rules for limited practice by unenrolled preparers. taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148622
Practitioners must promptly submit records or information requested by officers or employees of the IRS. When the Office of Professional Responsibility requests information concerning possible violations of the regulations by other parties, the practitioner must provide the information and be prepared to testify in disbarment or suspension proceedings. A practitioner can be exempted from these rules if he or she believes in good faith and on reasonable grounds that the information requested is privileged or that the request is of doubtful legality. taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148623
The confidentiality protection for certain communications between a taxpayer and an attorney (privileged communications) applies to similar communications between a taxpayer and any federally authorized tax practitioner.
Federally authorized tax practitioners include attorneys, certified public accountants, enrolled agents, enrolled actuaries, and certain other individuals allowed to practice before the IRS.
This confidentiality privilege cannot be used in any administrative proceeding with an agency other than the IRS.
The protection of this privilege applies only to tax advice given to the taxpayer by any individual who is a federally authorized tax practitioner. Tax advice is advice in regard to a matter that is within the scope of the practitioner's authority to practice. The confidentiality protection applies to communications that would be considered privileged if they were between the taxpayer and an attorney and that relate to:
- Noncriminal tax matters before the IRS, or
- Noncriminal tax proceedings brought in federal court by or against the United States.
This protection of tax advice communications does not apply to any written communications between a federally authorized tax practitioner and a director, shareholder, officer, employee, agent, or representative of a corporation. It also does not apply if the communication involves the promotion of the direct or indirect participation of the corporation in any tax shelter. taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148627
A practitioner who knows that his or her client has not complied with the revenue laws or has made an error or omission in any return, document, affidavit, or other required paper, has the responsibility to advise the client promptly of the noncompliance, error, or omission, and the consequences of the noncompliance, error, or omission. taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148628
A practitioner must exercise due diligence when performing the following duties:
- Preparing or assisting in the preparing, approving, and filing of returns, documents, affidavits, and other papers relating to IRS matters.
- Determining the correctness of oral or written representations made by him or her to the Department of the Treasury.
- Determining the correctness of oral or written representations made by him or her to clients with reference to any matter administered by the IRS.
Practitioners are restricted from engaging in certain practices. The following paragraphs discuss some of these restricted practices.taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148630
A practitioner must not unreasonably delay the prompt disposition of any matter before the IRS. taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148631
A practitioner must not knowingly, directly or indirectly, do the following.
- Accept assistance from any person who is under disbarment or suspension from practice before the IRS if the assistance relates to matters considered practice before the IRS.
- Accept assistance from any former government employee where provisions of Treasury Department Circular No. 230 or any federal law would be violated.
A practitioner who is a notary public and is employed as counsel, attorney, or agent in a matter before the IRS, or has a material interest in the matter, cannot engage in any notary activities related to that matter. taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148633
Practitioners who are income tax return preparers must not endorse or otherwise negotiate (cash) any refund check issued to the taxpayer. taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148634
Any practitioner or unenrolled return preparer may be disbarred or suspended from practice before the IRS, or censured, for disreputable conduct. The following list contains examples of conduct that is considered disreputable.
- Being convicted of any criminal offense under the 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 Treasury Department Circular No. 230.
- Willfully failing to file a 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 state, possession, territory, commonwealth, or any federal court, or any body or board of any federal agency.
- Knowingly aiding and abetting another person to practice before the IRS during a period of suspension, disbarment, or ineligibility.
- Using abusive language, making false accusations and 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 following a pattern of providing incompetent opinions in questions arising under the federal tax laws.
The Office of Professional Responsibility may censure or institute proceedings to suspend or disbar any attorney, CPA, or enrolled agent who the Office of Professional Responsibility has reason to believe violated the rules of practice. Except in certain unusual circumstances, the Director will not institute a proceeding for censure, suspension, or disbarment against a practitioner until the facts (or conduct) which may warrant such action have been given in writing to that practitioner and the practitioner has been given the opportunity to demonstrate or achieve compliance with the rules.