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taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000145598
Publication 947

Practice Before 
the IRS and 
Power of Attorney

rule

What's New(p1)


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Registered tax return preparers.(p1)
Registered tax return preparers may prepare and sign as the preparer tax returns and claims for refund and other documents for submission to the IRS. They may also represent taxpayers before revenue agents, customer service representatives, and similar IRS employees during an examination if they signed the return or claim for refund for the tax year or period under examination.
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Future developments.(p1)
The IRS has created a page on IRS.gov for information about Publication 947 at www.irs.gov/pub947. Information about any future developments (such as legislation enacted after we release it) will be posted on that page.

Practitioners' Hotline(p2)


The Practitioner Priority Service® is a nationwide, toll-free hotline that provides professional support to practitioners with account-related questions. The toll-free number for this service is 1-866-860-4259.

taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000270871Introduction

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, enrolled retirement plan agents, and enrolled actuaries can represent taxpayers before the IRS. Under special circumstances, other individuals, including registered tax return preparers, unenrolled return preparers, and students can represent taxpayers before the IRS. For details regarding taxpayer representation, see Who Can Practice Before the IRS, later.
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Definitions.(p2)

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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.
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Comments and suggestions.(p2)

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We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions.
You can write to us at the following address:

Internal Revenue Service
Individual Forms and Publications Branch
SE:W:CAR:MP:T:I
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.
You can email us at taxforms@irs.gov. Please put "Publications Comment" on the subject line. You can also send us comments from www.irs.gov/formspubs/, select "Comment on Tax Forms and Publications" under "Information About."
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Ordering forms and publications.(p2)
Visit www.irs.gov/formspubs/ to download forms and publications, call 1-800-829-3676, or write to the address below and receive a response within 10 days after your request is received.

Internal Revenue Service
1201 N. Mitsubishi Motorway
Bloomington, IL 61705-6613


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Tax questions.(p2)
If you have a tax question, check the information available on IRS.gov or call 1-800-829-1040. We cannot answer tax questions sent to either of the above addresses.

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Useful items

You may want to see:


Publications
 1 Your Rights as a Taxpayer
 470 Limited Practice Without Enrollment
 Circular No. 230 Regulations Governing Practice before the Internal Revenue Service
Forms and Instructions
 2848: Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative
 8821: Tax Information Authorization
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Practice Before the IRS(p2)

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Words you may need to know (see Glossary)

The Office of Professional Responsibility and the Return Preparer Office generally are responsible for administering and enforcing the regulations governing practice before the IRS. The Office of Professional Responsibility generally has responsibility for matters related to practitioner conduct and exclusive responsibility for discipline, including disciplinary proceedings and sanctions. The Return Preparer Office is responsible for matters related to the authority to practice, including acting on applications for enrollment and administering competency testing and continuing education.
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What Is Practice Before the IRS?(p2)

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Practice before the IRS covers all matters relating to any of the following. Furnishing information at the request of the IRS or appearing as a witness for the taxpayer is not practice before the IRS.
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Who Can Practice Before the IRS?(p3)

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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 representative 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.
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Attorneys.(p3)

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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 the District of Columbia may practice before the IRS.
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Certified public accountants (CPAs).(p3)

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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 the District of Columbia may practice before the IRS.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148598

Enrolled agents.(p3)

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Any enrolled agent in active status who is not currently under suspension or disbarment from practice before the IRS may practice before the IRS.
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Enrolled retirement plan agents.(p3)

rule
Any enrolled retirement plan agent in active status who is not currently under suspension or disbarment from practice before the IRS may practice before the IRS. The practice of enrolled retirement plan agents is limited to certain Internal Revenue Code sections that relate to their area of expertise, principally those sections governing employee retirement plans.
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Enrolled actuaries.(p3)

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Any individual who is enrolled as an actuary by the Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries who is not currently under suspension or disbarment from practice before the IRS 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.
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Student.(p3)

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Under certain circumstances, a student who is supervised by a practitioner may request permission to represent another person before the IRS. For more information, see Authorization for special appearances, later.
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Registered tax return preparers and unenrolled return preparers.(p3)

rule
A registered tax return preparer is an individual who has passed an IRS competency test and is authorized to prepare and sign tax returns as the preparer. An unenrolled return preparer is an individual other than an attorney, CPA, enrolled agent, enrolled retirement plan 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.
Registered tax return preparers and unenrolled return preparers may only represent taxpayers before revenue agents, customer service representatives, or similar officers and employees of the Internal Revenue Service (including the Taxpayer Advocate Service) during an examination of the taxable year or period covered by the tax return they prepared and signed. Registered tax return preparers and unenrolled return preparers cannot represent taxpayers, regardless of the circumstances requiring representation, before appeals officers, revenue officers, counsel or similar officers or employees of the Internal Revenue Service or the Department of Treasury. Registered tax return preparers and unenrolled return preparers cannot execute closing agreements, extend the statutory period for tax assessments or collection of tax, execute waivers, execute claims for refund, or sign any document on behalf of a taxpayer.
If the unenrolled return preparer does not meet the requirements for limited representation, you may file Form 8821 to allow the preparer to inspect your tax information and receive copies of notices sent to you by the IRS. See Form 8821.
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Practice denied.(p3)
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 Incompetence and Disreputable Conduct shown later under What Are the Rules of Practice.
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Other individuals who may serve as representatives.(p3)

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Because of their special relationship with a taxpayer, the following 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.
  1. 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.
  2. A family member. An individual can represent members of his or her immediate family. Immediate family includes a spouse, child, parent, brother, or sister of the individual.
  3. 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.
  4. A partner. A general partner may represent the partnership before the IRS.
  5. 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.
  6. A fiduciary. A fiduciary (trustee, executor, personal representative, 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.
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Representation Outside the United States(p4)

rule
Any individual may represent an individual or entity, who is outside the United States, before personnel of the IRS when such representation occurs outside the United States. See section 10.7(c)(1)(vii) of Circular 230.
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Authorization for Special Appearances(p4)

rule
The Commissioner of Internal Revenue, or delegate, 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 Commissioner, or delegate, 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 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. The issuance of a CAF number does not indicate that an individual is either recognized or authorized to practice before the IRS. It merely confirms that a centralized file for authorizations has been established for the individual under that number.
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Students in LITCs and the STCP.(p4)

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A student who works in a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) or Student Tax Clinic Program (STCP) who is supervised by a practitioner may request permission to represent another person before the IRS. Authorization requests must be made to the Office of Professional Responsibility. If granted, a letter authorizing the student's special appearance and detailing any conditions related to the appearance will be issued. Students receiving an authorization letter generally can represent taxpayers before any IRS function or office subject to any conditions in the authorization letter. If you intend to have a student represent you, review the authorization letter and ask your student, your student's supervisor, or the Office of Professional Responsibility if you have questions about the terms of the authorization.
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Who Cannot Practice Before the IRS?(p4)

rule
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, the IRS will not recognize a power of attorney that names the individual as a representative.
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Corporations, associations, partnerships, and other persons that are not individuals.(p4)

rule
These organizations (or persons) are not eligible to practice before the IRS.
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Loss of Eligibility(p4)

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Generally, individuals lose their eligibility to practice before the IRS in the following ways.
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Failure to meet requirements.(p4)

rule
Individuals who fail to comply with the requirements for eligibility for renewal of enrollment will be notified by the IRS. The notice will explain the reason for noncompliance and provide the individual with an opportunity to furnish information for reconsideration. The individual has 60 days from the date of the notice to respond.
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Inactive roster.(p4)
An individual will be placed on the roster of inactive individuals for a period of three years, if he or she: The individual must file an application for renewal and satisfy all requirements for renewal after being placed in inactive status. Otherwise, at the conclusion of the next renewal cycle, he or she will be removed from the roster and the enrollment or registration terminated.
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Inactive retirement status.(p4)

rule
Individuals 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 and providing evidence that they have completed the required continuing professional education hours for the enrollment cycle or registration year.
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Suspension and disbarment.(p4)

rule
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 engaging in acts of disreputable conduct. For more information, see Incompetence and 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:
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How Does an Individual Become Enrolled?(p5)

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The Return Preparer Office 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 Incompetence and Disreputable Conduct, later.
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Form 2587.(p5)

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Applicants can apply to take the special enrollment examination by filing Form 2587, Application for Special Enrollment Examination. Form 2587 can be filed online, by mail, or by fax. For more information, see instructions and fees listed on the form. To get Form 2587, see How To Get Tax Help, later.
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Form 23 and Form 23-EP.(p5)

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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, or Form 23-EP, Application for Enrollment to Practice Before the Internal Revenue Service as an Enrolled Retirement Plan Agent. The application must include a check or money order in the amount of the fee shown on Form 23 or Form 23-EP. Alternatively, payment may be made electronically pursuant to instructions on the forms. To get Form 23 or Form 23-EP, see How To Get Tax Help, later.
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Form 5434.(p5)

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An individual may apply as an enrolled actuary on the basis of past employment with the IRS and technical experience by filing Form 5434, Application for Enrollment, with the Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries. The application must include a check or money order in the amount of the fee shown on Form 5434. To get Form 5434, see How To Get Tax Help, later.
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Period of enrollment.(p5)

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An enrollment card will be issued to each individual whose enrollment application is approved. The individual is enrolled until the expiration date shown on the enrollment card or certificate. To continue practicing beyond the expiration date, the individual must request renewal of the enrollment by filing Form 8554, Application for Renewal of Enrollment to Practice Before the Internal Revenue Service, or Form 8554-EP, Application for Renewal of Enrollment to Practice Before the Internal Revenue Service as an Enrolled Retirement Plan Agent (ERPA).
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What Are the Rules of Practice?(p5)

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The rules governing practice before the IRS are published in the Code of Federal Regulations at 31 C.F.R. part 10 and reprinted in Treasury Department Circular No. 230 (Circular 230). An attorney, CPA, enrolled agent, enrolled retirement plan agent, registered tax return preparer, 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.
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Duties(p5)

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Practitioners must promptly submit records or information requested by officers or employees of the IRS, except when the practitioner believes on reasonable belief and good faith that the information is privileged. Communications with respect to tax advice between a federally authorized tax practitioner and a taxpayer generally are confidential to the same extent that communication would be privileged if it were between a taxpayer and an attorney if the advice relates to:
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Communications regarding corporate tax shelters.(p5)
This protection of tax advice communications does not apply to any written communications between a federally authorized tax practitioner and any person, including a director, shareholder, officer, employee, agent, or representative of a corporation if the communication involves the promotion of the direct or indirect participation of the corporation in any tax shelter.
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Duty to advise.(p5)

rule
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.
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Due diligence.(p6)

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A practitioner must exercise due diligence when performing the following duties.
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Restrictions(p6)

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Practitioners are restricted from engaging in certain practices. The following paragraphs discuss some of these restricted practices.
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Delays.(p6)

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A practitioner must not unreasonably delay the prompt disposition of any matter before the IRS.
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Assistance from disbarred or suspended persons and former IRS employees.(p6)

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A practitioner must not knowingly, directly or indirectly, do the following.
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Performance as a notary.(p6)

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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.
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Negotiations of taxpayer refund checks.(p6)

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Practitioners must not endorse or otherwise negotiate (cash) any refund check (including directing or accepting payment by any means, electronic or otherwise, in an account owned or controlled by the practitioner or any firm or other entity with whom the practitioner is associated) issued to the taxpayer.
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Incompetence and Disreputable Conduct(p6)

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Any practitioner or unenrolled return preparer may be disbarred or suspended from practice before the IRS, or censured, for incompetence or disreputable conduct. The following list contains examples of conduct that is considered disreputable.
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Censure, Disbarments, and Suspensions(p6)

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The Office of Professional Responsibility may censure or institute proceedings to censure, suspend or disbar any attorney, CPA, or enrolled agent who has violated Circular 230. A practitioner will be given the opportunity to demonstrate compliance with the rules before any disciplinary action is taken.