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

Practice Before 
the IRS and 
Power of Attorney

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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.

What's New(p1)


taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148586
Representative designations.(p1)
IRS no longer recognizes the registered tax return preparer designation. All unenrolled return preparers must provide a valid PTIN to represent a taxpayer before the IRS. For returns prepared after December 31, 2015, only unenrolled return preparers participating in the Annual Filing Season Record of Completion program may represent a taxpayer, and only with respect to returns prepared and signed by the preparer.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink100030062
Representative signatures.(p2)
Form 2848 now provides space for the information and signatures of up to four representatives. For more information, see the instructions to Form 2848, Line 2. Representatives(s).
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink100030436
Revisions to Circular 230.(p2)
Amendments to Circular 230 (Rev. 6‐2014), the rules governing practice before the IRS, include recent noteworthy changes.
  • Practitioner's written tax advice. Requirements for certain written tax opinions (known as “covered opinions”) were replaced with principles-based requirements applicable to all practitioners' written tax advice.
  • Practitioner's general competency requirement. A general competency requirement, under which a practitioner must have or obtain the knowledge, skill, thoroughness, and preparation necessary for whatever matter the practitioner has undertaken for a client has been added to Circular 230.
  • Negotiation of taxpayer checks. The explicit recognition that a longstanding prohibition in Circular 230 against negotiation of Treasury “checks” issued to taxpayers likewise applies to direct deposits and similar electronic forms of payment that are now commonplace. See Negotiation of taxpayer refund checks, under What Are the Rules of Practice?, later.
  • Suspension from practice. Circular 230 expands and refines the process for suspension from practice on an expedited basis, which allows the Office of Professional Responsibility to promptly suspend individuals in certain situations using a short form of administrative due process.
For further information see Circular 230 (Rev. 6‐2014), Regulations Governing Practice before the Internal Revenue Service.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink100030092
Annual Filing Season Program and Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers.(p2)
The IRS has developed an online searchable database of tax return preparers who participate in the Annual Filing Season Program. The general public can access the database on the IRS website. The IRS developed the directory as part of the Annual Filing Season Program. For further information see below, Annual Filing Season Program.

Reminders(p2)


taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink100031133
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_publink100031134
Annual Filing Season Program(p2)
The Annual Filing Season Program is a voluntary program that allows limited practice rights for return preparers who are not attorneys, certified public accountants, or enrolled agents. The IRS issues an Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion to return preparers who obtain a certain number of continuing education hours in preparation for a specific tax year. Annual filing season program participants do not have unlimited practice rights (unless they are also an attorney, certified public accountant, or enrolled agent). Their rights are limited to representation of clients whose returns they prepared and signed, but only before revenue agents, customer service representatives, and similar IRS employees, including the Taxpayer Advocate Service. They cannot represent clients whose returns they did not prepare and sign, nor can they represent clients before the collection or appeals functions. See http://irs.treasury.gov/rpo/rpo.jsf for more information.

taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000270871Introduction

This publication discusses who may 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), and enrolled agents may represent taxpayers before the IRS. Enrolled retirement plan agents, and enrolled actuaries may represent with respect to specified Internal Revenue Code sections delineated in Circular 230. Under special and limited circumstances, other individuals, including unenrolled return preparers, family members, employees, and students can represent taxpayers before the IRS. For details regarding taxpayer representation, see Who Can Practice Before the IRS?, later.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148590

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.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink100030054

Comments and suggestions.(p2)

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We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions.
You can send us comments from www.irs.gov/formspubs. Click on "More Information" and then on "Give us feedback."
Or you can write to:

Internal Revenue Service
Tax Forms and Publications
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.
Although we cannot respond individually to each comment received, we do appreciate your feedback and will consider your comments as we revise our tax products.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink100030055
Ordering forms and publications.(p2)
Visit www.irs.gov/formspubs to download forms and publications. Otherwise, you can go to www.irs.gov/orderforms to order forms or call 1-800-829-3676 to order current and prior-year forms and instructions. Your order should arrive within 10 business days.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink100030056
Tax questions.(p3)
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 the above address.

taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#TXMP0e32a47a

Useful items

You may want to see:


Publications
 1 Your Rights as a Taxpayer
 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
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148593

Practice Before the IRS(p3)

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Words you may need to know (see Glossary)

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 issuance of PTINs, acting on applications for enrollment and administering competency testing and continuing education for designated groups.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148594

What Is Practice Before the IRS?(p3)

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Circular 230 covers all matters relating to any of the following. Any individual may for compensation prepare or assist with the preparation of a tax return or claim for refund, appear as a witness for the taxpayer before the IRS, or furnish information at the request of the IRS or any of its officers or employees.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148595

Who Can Practice Before the IRS?(p3)

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The following individuals are subject to the Regulations contained in Circular 230. However, any individual who is authorized generally 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.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink100031090

Appraisers.(p3)

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Any individual who prepares appraisals supporting the valuation of assets in connection with one or more federal tax matters is subject to the regulations contained in Circular 230. Appraisers have no representation rights but may appear as witnesses on behalf of taxpayers.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148596

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.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148597

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.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148599

Enrolled retirement plan agents.(p3)

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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.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148600

Enrolled actuaries.(p4)

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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.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148601

Low Income Taxpayer Clinic Student Interns.(p4)

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Under certain circumstances, a student who is supervised by a practitioner at a law school or equivalent program providing tax services for low income taxpayers may request authorization to represent a taxpayer before the IRS. For more information, see Authorization for Special Appearances, later.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148603

Unenrolled return preparers.(p4)

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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 paid preparer, or who prepares a return but is not required (by the instructions to the return or regulations) to sign the return.
Unenrolled return preparers may represent taxpayers only before revenue agents, customer service representatives, or similar officers and employees of the Internal Revenue Service (including the Taxpayer Advocate Service) and only during an examination of the tax returns they prepared and signed prior to December 31, 2015. Unenrolled return preparers may not represent taxpayers before appeals officers, revenue officers, counsel or similar officers or employees of the Internal Revenue Service or the Department of Treasury. Unenrolled return preparers may not execute closing agreements, extend the statutory period for tax assessments or collection of tax, execute waivers, or sign any document on behalf of a taxpayer.
If an unenrolled return preparer does not meet the requirements for limited representation, you may authorize the unenrolled return preparer to inspect and/or request your tax information by filing Form 8821. Completing Form 8821 will not authorize the unenrolled return preparer to represent you before the IRS. See Form 8821.
Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion. Beginning January 1, 2016, only unenrolled return preparers who hold a record of completion for BOTH the tax return year (2015 or thereafter) under examination and the year the examination is conducted may represent under the following conditions: Unenrolled return preparers may represent taxpayers only before revenue agents, customer service representatives, or similar officers and employees of the Internal Revenue Service (including the Taxpayer Advocate Service) and only during an examination of the taxable year or period covered by the tax returns they prepared and signed. Unenrolled return preparers may not 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. Unenrolled return preparers may not execute closing agreements, extend the statutory period for tax assessments or collection of tax, execute waivers, or sign any document on behalf of a taxpayer.
If an unenrolled return preparer does not meet the requirements for limited representation, you may authorize the unenrolled return preparer to inspect and/or request your tax information by filing Form 8821. Completing Form 8821 will not authorize the unenrolled return preparer to represent you before any IRS personnel. See Form 8821.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148604
Practice denied.(p4)
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?.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148605

Other individuals who may serve as representatives.(p4)

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Because of their special relationship with a taxpayer, the following individuals may 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.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148606

Representation Outside the United States(p4)

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Any individual may represent an individual or entity, who is outside the United States, before personnel of the IRS when such representation also occurs outside the United States. See section 10.7(c)(1)(vii) of Circular 230.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148607

Authorization for Special Appearances(p5)

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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.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148608

Students in LITCs and the STCP. (p5)

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A student who works in a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) or a Student Tax Clinic Program (STCP) must receive permission to represent taxpayers before the IRS by virtue of their status as a law, business, or accounting student. Authorization requests must be sent to the Taxpayer Advocate Service. 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 and must be under the direct supervision of an individual authorized to practice before the IRS. If you intend to have a student represent you, review the authorization letter and ask your student, your student's supervisor, or the Taxpayer Advocate Service if you have questions about the terms of the authorization.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148609

Who May Not Practice Before the IRS?(p5)

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In general, individuals who are not eligible, or who have lost the privilege as a result of certain actions, may not 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.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148610

Corporations, associations, partnerships, and other persons that are not individuals.(p5)

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These organizations (or persons) are not eligible to practice before the IRS.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148611

Loss of Eligibility(p5)

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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.(p5)

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Enrolled individuals and Record of Completion holders who fail to comply with the requirements for eligibility for renewal will be notified by the IRS. The notice will explain the reason for ineligibility and provide the individual with a time-sensitive opportunity to furnish information for reconsideration.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148613
Inactive roster.(p5)
An enrolled individual will be placed on the roster of inactive enrolled individuals for a period of three years, if he or she: The enrolled 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 status will be terminated.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148614

Inactive retirement status.(p5)

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Enrolled 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 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.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148615

Suspension and disbarment.(p5)

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All individuals practicing before the IRS are subject to disciplinary proceedings and may be censured, suspended, disbarred or monetarily penalized for violating any regulation in Circular 230. This includes engaging in acts demonstrating incompetence or disreputable conduct. For more information, see Incompetence and Disreputable Conduct under What Are the Rules of Practice?, later.
Practitioners who are suspended or disbarred in a disciplinary proceeding are not allowed to represent taxpayers before the IRS during the period of suspension/disbarment. A practitioner can seek reinstatement from the Office of Professional Responsibility at the earlier of a specified period of suspension or after five years of disbarment. See What Is Practice Before the IRS?, earlier.
If the practitioner seeks reinstatement, he or she may not practice before the IRS until the Office of Professional Responsibility grants reinstatement. The Office of Professional Responsibility may reinstate the practitioner:
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148616

How Does an Individual Become Enrolled?(p6)

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The IRS website www.irs.gov/Tax-Professionals/Enrolled-Agents/Become-an-Enrolled-Agent provides complete information on the steps to be taken to become an enrolled agent.
For complete rules on earning an Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion, see www.irs.gov/Tax-Professionals/Annual-Filing-Season-Program.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148621

What Are the Rules of Practice?(p6)

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The rules governing practice before the IRS are published in the Code of Federal Regulations at 31 C.F.R. Subtitle A, Part 10 and released digitally as Treasury Department Circular No. 230 (Circular 230). The regulations can be accessed at www.irs.gov/Tax-Professionals/Circular-230-Tax-Professionals. An attorney, CPA, enrolled agent, enrolled retirement plan agent, or enrolled actuary authorized to practice before the IRS (referred to hereafter as a practitioner) and an appraiser 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 who engages in incompetent or 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. There are two specific sets of rules that apply, both are contained in Circular 230:
  1. Duties and Restrictions relating to practice (Subpart B of Cir. 230), and
  2. Conduct considered to exhibit incompetence or disrepute (Subpart C, Section 10.51 of Cir. 230).
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148622

Duties and Restrictions(p6)

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Individuals subject to Circular 230 must promptly submit records or information sought by a proper and lawful request from 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 (See Internal Revenue Code (IRC) sec. 7525) 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:
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148626
Communications regarding corporate tax shelters.(p6)
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.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148627

Duty to advise.(p6)

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Individuals subject to Circular 230 who know 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

General due diligence.(p6)

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Individuals subject to Circular 230 must exercise due diligence when performing the following duties.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink100031148

Reliance on others.(p6)

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A presumption that due diligence has been exercised will apply in situations where there has been reliance on the work product of another person reasonable care was used in engaging, supervising, training, and evaluating the person, taking proper account of the nature of the relationship between the Circular 230 individual and the person.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink100031085

Delays.(p6)

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Individuals subject to Circular 230 must not unreasonably delay the prompt disposition of any matter before the IRS.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink100031086

Assistance from disbarred or suspended persons and former IRS employees.(p6)

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Individuals subject to Circular 230 must not knowingly, directly or indirectly, do the following.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink100031087

Performance as a notary.(p7)

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Individuals subject to Circular 230 may not take acknowledgments, administer oaths, certify papers, or perform any official act as a notary public with respect to any matter administered by the IRS and for which he or she is employed as counsel, attorney, or agent, or in which he or she may be in any way interested.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink100031088

Negotiation of taxpayer refund checks.(p7)

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Individuals subject to Circular 230 may not endorse or otherwise negotiate any check (including directing or accepting payment by any means, electronic or otherwise, into an account owned or controlled by the practitioner or any firm or other entity with whom the practitioner is associated) issued to a client by the government in respect of a Federal tax liability.
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148634

Incompetence and Disreputable Conduct(p7)

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Individuals subject to Circular 230 may be disbarred or suspended from practice before the IRS, or censured, for incompetence or disreputable conduct. A monetary penalty may also be imposed, in addition to any other discipline, on both individuals and their firms. The following list contains examples of conduct that is considered disreputable. Further examples are shown in Circular 230, Sec. 10.51(a).
taxmap/pubs/p947-000.htm#en_us_publink1000148635

Censure, Disbarments, and Suspensions(p7)

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The Secretary of the Treasury, or delegate, after notice and an opportunity for a proceeding, may censure, suspend, or disbar an individual subject to Circular 230 from practice before the IRS if the individual is shown to be incompetent or disreputable, fails to comply with the regulations in Subpart B; or with intent to defraud, willfully and knowingly misleads or threatens a client or prospective client.
Censure is a public reprimand. Individuals subject to Circular 230 include any attorney, certified public accountant, or appraiser engaged in taxpayer representation or advice-giving activity with respect to federal tax matters, enrolled agent, enrolled actuary, enrolled retirement plan agent, or annual filing season program record of completion holders.