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Taxact2010Taxact2010 Publication 947 - Main Content Table of Contents Practice Before the IRSWhat Is Practice Before the IRS? Who Can Practice Before the IRS? Who Cannot Practice Before the IRS? How Does an Individual Become Enrolled? What Are the Rules of Practice? Authorizing a RepresentativeWhat Is a Power of Attorney? When Is a Power of Attorney Required? When Is a Power of Attorney Not Required? How Do I Fill Out Form 2848? What Happens to the Power of Attorney When Filed? How To Get Tax HelpLow Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs). Taxact2010 Practice Before the IRS The Office of Professional Responsibility and the Return Preparer Office generally are responsible for administering and enforcing the regulations governing practice before the IRS. Taxact2010 The Office of Professional Responsibility generally has responsibility for matters related to practitioner conduct and exclusive responsibility for discipline, including disciplinary proceedings and sanctions. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 What Is Practice Before the IRS? Practice before the IRS covers all matters relating to any of the following. Taxact2010 Communicating with the IRS for a taxpayer regarding the taxpayer's rights, privileges, or liabilities under laws and regulations administered by the IRS. Taxact2010 Representing a taxpayer at conferences, hearings, or meetings with the IRS. Taxact2010 Preparing and filing documents, including tax returns, with the IRS for a taxpayer. Taxact2010 Providing a client with written advice which has a potential for tax avoidance or evasion. Taxact2010 Furnishing information at the request of the IRS or appearing as a witness for the taxpayer is not practice before the IRS. Taxact2010 Who Can Practice Before the IRS? The following individuals can practice before the IRS. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 Form 2848 can be used for this purpose. Taxact2010 Attorneys. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 Certified public accountants (CPAs). Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 Enrolled agents. Taxact2010 Any enrolled agent in active status who is not currently under suspension or disbarment from practice before the IRS may practice before the IRS. Taxact2010 Enrolled retirement plan agents. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 Enrolled actuaries. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 Student. Taxact2010 Under certain circumstances, a student who is supervised by a practitioner may request permission to represent another person before the IRS. Taxact2010 For more information, see Authorization for special appearances, later. Taxact2010 Registered tax return preparers and unenrolled return preparers. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 See Form 8821. Taxact2010 Practice denied. Taxact2010 Any individual engaged in limited practice before the IRS who is involved in disreputable conduct is subject to disciplinary action. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 Other individuals who may serve as representatives. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 An individual. Taxact2010 An individual can represent himself or herself before the IRS and does not have to file a written declaration of qualification and authority. Taxact2010 A family member. Taxact2010 An individual can represent members of his or her immediate family. Taxact2010 Immediate family includes a spouse, child, parent, brother, or sister of the individual. Taxact2010 An officer. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 A partner. Taxact2010 A general partner may represent the partnership before the IRS. Taxact2010 An employee. Taxact2010 A regular full-time employee can represent his or her employer. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 A fiduciary. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 See Fiduciary under When Is a Power of Attorney Not Required, later. Taxact2010 Representation Outside the United States 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. Taxact2010 See section 10. Taxact2010 7(c)(1)(vii) of Circular 230. Taxact2010 Authorization for Special Appearances 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. Taxact2010 The prospective representative must request this authorization in writing from the Office of Professional Responsibility. Taxact2010 However, it is granted only when extremely compelling circumstances exist. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 The issuance of a CAF number does not indicate that an individual is either recognized or authorized to practice before the IRS. Taxact2010 It merely confirms that a centralized file for authorizations has been established for the individual under that number. Taxact2010 Students in LITCs and the STCP. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 Authorization requests must be made to the Office of Professional Responsibility. Taxact2010 If granted, a letter authorizing the student's special appearance and detailing any conditions related to the appearance will be issued. Taxact2010 Students receiving an authorization letter generally can represent taxpayers before any IRS function or office subject to any conditions in the authorization letter. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 Who Cannot Practice Before the IRS? In general, individuals who are not eligible or who have lost the privilege as a result of certain actions cannot practice before the IRS. Taxact2010 If an individual loses eligibility to practice, the IRS will not recognize a power of attorney that names the individual as a representative. Taxact2010 Corporations, associations, partnerships, and other persons that are not individuals. Taxact2010 These organizations (or persons) are not eligible to practice before the IRS. Taxact2010 Loss of Eligibility Generally, individuals lose their eligibility to practice before the IRS in the following ways. Taxact2010 Not meeting the requirements for renewal of enrollment (such as continuing professional education). Taxact2010 Requesting to be placed in inactive retirement status. Taxact2010 Being suspended or disbarred by the Office of Professional Responsibility for violating the regulations governing practice before the IRS. Taxact2010 Failure to meet requirements. Taxact2010 Individuals who fail to comply with the requirements for eligibility for renewal of enrollment will be notified by the IRS. Taxact2010 The notice will explain the reason for noncompliance and provide the individual with an opportunity to furnish information for reconsideration. Taxact2010 The individual has 60 days from the date of the notice to respond. Taxact2010 Inactive roster. Taxact2010 An individual will be placed on the roster of inactive 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, or Does not satisfy the requirements of eligibility for renewal. Taxact2010 The individual must file an application for renewal and satisfy all requirements for renewal after being placed in inactive status. Taxact2010 Otherwise, at the conclusion of the next renewal cycle, he or she will be removed from the roster and the enrollment or registration terminated. Taxact2010 Inactive retirement status. Taxact2010 Individuals who request to be placed in an inactive retirement status will be ineligible to practice before the IRS. Taxact2010 They must continue to adhere to all renewal requirements. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 Suspension and disbarment. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 This includes engaging in acts of disreputable conduct. Taxact2010 For more information, see Incompetence and Disreputable Conduct under What are the Rules of Practice, later. Taxact2010 Practitioners who are suspended in a disciplinary proceeding are not allowed to practice before the IRS during the period of suspension. Taxact2010 See What Is Practice Before the IRS, earlier. Taxact2010 Practitioners who are disbarred in a disciplinary proceeding are not allowed to practice before the IRS. Taxact2010 However, a practitioner can seek reinstatement from the Office of Professional Responsibility five years after disbarment. Taxact2010 If the practitioner seeks reinstatement, he or she may not practice before the IRS until the Office of Professional Responsibility authorizes reinstatement. Taxact2010 The Office of Professional Responsibility may reinstate the practitioner if it is determined that: The practitioner's future conduct is not likely to be in violation of the regulations, and Granting the reinstatement would not be contrary to the public interest. Taxact2010 How Does an Individual Become Enrolled? 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. Taxact2010 Enrollment also can be granted to an applicant who qualifies because of past service and technical experience in the IRS. Taxact2010 In either case, certain application forms, discussed next, must be filed. Taxact2010 Additionally, an applicant must not have engaged in any conduct that would justify suspension or disbarment from practice before the IRS. Taxact2010 See Incompetence and Disreputable Conduct, later. Taxact2010 Form 2587. Taxact2010 Applicants can apply to take the special enrollment examination by filing Form 2587, Application for Special Enrollment Examination. Taxact2010 Form 2587 can be filed online, by mail, or by fax. Taxact2010 For more information, see instructions and fees listed on the form. Taxact2010 To get Form 2587, see How To Get Tax Help, later. Taxact2010 Form 23 and Form 23-EP. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 The application must include a check or money order in the amount of the fee shown on Form 23 or Form 23-EP. Taxact2010 Alternatively, payment may be made electronically pursuant to instructions on the forms. Taxact2010 To get Form 23 or Form 23-EP, see How To Get Tax Help, later. Taxact2010 Form 5434. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 The application must include a check or money order in the amount of the fee shown on Form 5434. Taxact2010 To get Form 5434, see How To Get Tax Help, later. Taxact2010 Period of enrollment. Taxact2010 An enrollment card will be issued to each individual whose enrollment application is approved. Taxact2010 The individual is enrolled until the expiration date shown on the enrollment card or certificate. Taxact2010 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). Taxact2010 What Are the Rules of Practice? The rules governing practice before the IRS are published in the Code of Federal Regulations at 31 C. Taxact2010 F. Taxact2010 R. Taxact2010 part 10 and reprinted in Treasury Department Circular No. Taxact2010 230 (Circular 230). Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 In addition, a practitioner cannot engage in disreputable conduct (discussed later). Taxact2010 Any practitioner who does not comply with the rules of practice or engages in disreputable conduct is subject to disciplinary action. Taxact2010 Also, unenrolled preparers must comply with the rules of practice and conduct to exercise the privilege of limited practice before the IRS. Taxact2010 See Publication 470 for a discussion of the special rules for limited practice by unenrolled preparers. Taxact2010 Duties 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. Taxact2010 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: Noncriminal tax matters before the IRS, or Noncriminal tax proceedings brought in federal court by or against the United States. Taxact2010 Communications regarding corporate tax shelters. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 Duty to advise. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 Due diligence. Taxact2010 A practitioner must exercise due diligence when performing the following duties. Taxact2010 Preparing or assisting in the preparing, approving, and filing of returns, documents, affidavits, and other papers relating to IRS matters. Taxact2010 Determining the correctness of oral or written representations made by him or her to the Department of the Treasury. Taxact2010 Determining the correctness of oral or written representations made by him or her to clients with reference to any matter administered by the IRS. Taxact2010 Restrictions Practitioners are restricted from engaging in certain practices. Taxact2010 The following paragraphs discuss some of these restricted practices. Taxact2010 Delays. Taxact2010 A practitioner must not unreasonably delay the prompt disposition of any matter before the IRS. Taxact2010 Assistance from disbarred or suspended persons and former IRS employees. Taxact2010 A practitioner must not knowingly, directly or indirectly, do the following. Taxact2010 Accept assistance from, or assist, any person who is under disbarment or suspension from practice before the IRS if the assistance relates to matters considered practice before the IRS. Taxact2010 Accept assistance from any former government employee where provisions of Circular 230 or any federal law would be violated. Taxact2010 Performance as a notary. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 Negotiations of taxpayer refund checks. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 Incompetence and Disreputable Conduct Any practitioner or unenrolled return preparer may be disbarred or suspended from practice before the IRS, or censured, for incompetence or disreputable conduct. Taxact2010 The following list contains examples of conduct that is considered disreputable. Taxact2010 Being convicted of any criminal offense under the revenue laws or of any offense involving dishonesty or breach of trust. Taxact2010 Knowingly giving false or misleading information in connection with federal tax matters, or participating in such activity. Taxact2010 Soliciting employment by prohibited means as discussed in section 10. Taxact2010 30 of Circular 230. Taxact2010 Willfully failing to file a federal tax return, evading or attempting to evade any federal tax or payment, or participating in such actions. Taxact2010 Misappropriating, or failing to properly and promptly remit, funds received from clients for payment of taxes or other obligations due the United States. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 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 federal agency, body, or board. Taxact2010 Knowingly aiding and abetting another person to practice before the IRS during a period of suspension, disbarment, or ineligibility of that other person. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 Censure, Disbarments, and Suspensions 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. Taxact2010 A practitioner will be given the opportunity to demonstrate compliance with the rules before any disciplinary action is taken. Taxact2010 Authorizing a Representative You may either represent yourself, or you may authorize an individual to represent you before the IRS. Taxact2010 If you chose to have someone represent you, your representative must be a person eligible to practice before the IRS. Taxact2010 See Who Can Practice Before the IRS, earlier. Taxact2010 What Is a Power of Attorney? A power of attorney is your written authorization for an individual to act on your behalf. Taxact2010 If the authorization is not limited, the individual generally can perform all acts that you can perform. Taxact2010 The authority granted to a registered tax return preparer or an unenrolled preparer is limited. Taxact2010 For information on the limits regarding registered tax return preparers, see Circular 230 §10. Taxact2010 3(f). Taxact2010 For information on the limits regarding unenrolled preparers, see Publication 470. Taxact2010 Acts performed. Taxact2010 Any representative, other than a registered tax return preparer or an unenrolled return preparer, can usually perform the following acts. Taxact2010 Represent you before any office of the IRS. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 Sign a consent to extend the statutory time period for assessment or collection of a tax. Taxact2010 Sign a closing agreement. Taxact2010 Signing your return. Taxact2010 The representative named under a power of attorney is not permitted to sign your income tax return unless: The signature is permitted under the Internal Revenue Code and the related regulations (see Regulations section 1. Taxact2010 6012-1(a)(5)). Taxact2010 You specifically authorize this in your power of attorney. Taxact2010 For example, the regulation permits a representative to sign your return if you are unable to sign the return due to: Disease or injury. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 Other good cause if specific permission is requested of and granted by the IRS. Taxact2010 When a return is signed by a representative, it must be accompanied by a power of attorney (or copy) authorizing the representative to sign the return. Taxact2010 For more information, see the Form 2848 instructions. Taxact2010 Limitation on substitution or delegation. Taxact2010 A recognized representative can substitute or delegate authority under the power of attorney to another recognized representative only if the act is specifically authorized by you on the power of attorney. Taxact2010 After a substitution has been made, only the newly recognized representative will be recognized as the taxpayer's representative. Taxact2010 If a delegation of power has been made, both the original and the delegated representative will be recognized by the IRS to represent you. Taxact2010 Disclosure of returns to a third party. Taxact2010 Your representative cannot execute consents that will allow the IRS to disclose tax return or return information to a third party unless you specifically delegate this authority to your representative on line 5 of Form 2848. Taxact2010 Incapacity or incompetency. Taxact2010 A power of attorney is generally terminated if you become incapacitated or incompetent. Taxact2010 The power of attorney can continue, however, in the case of your incapacity or incompetency if you authorize this on line 5 “Other” of the Form 2848 and if your non-IRS durable power of attorney meets all the requirements for acceptance by the IRS. Taxact2010 See Non-IRS powers of attorney, later. Taxact2010 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 earlier under What Is a Power of Attorney. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 Represent you at a meeting with the IRS. Taxact2010 Prepare and file a written response to the IRS. Taxact2010 Form Required Use Form 2848 to appoint a recognized representative to act on your behalf before the IRS. Taxact2010 Individuals recognized to practice before the IRS are listed under Part II, Declaration of Representative, of Form 2848. Taxact2010 Your representative must complete that part of the form. Taxact2010 Non-IRS powers of attorney. Taxact2010 The IRS will accept a non-IRS power of attorney, but a completed Form 2848 must be attached in order for the power of attorney to be entered on the Centralized Authorization File (CAF) system. Taxact2010 For more information, see Processing a non-IRS power of attorney, later. Taxact2010 If you want to use a power of attorney document other than Form 2848, it must contain the following information. Taxact2010 Your name and mailing address. Taxact2010 Your social security number and/or employer identification number. Taxact2010 Your employee plan number, if applicable. Taxact2010 The name and mailing address of your representative(s). Taxact2010 The types of tax involved. Taxact2010 The federal tax form number. Taxact2010 The specific year(s) or period(s) involved. Taxact2010 For estate tax matters, the decedent's date of death. Taxact2010 A clear expression of your intention concerning the scope of authority granted to your representative(s). Taxact2010 Your signature and date. Taxact2010 You also must attach to the non-IRS power of attorney a signed and dated statement made by your representative. Taxact2010 This statement, which is referred to as the Declaration of Representative, is contained in Part II of Form 2848. Taxact2010 The statement should read: I am not currently under suspension or disbarment from practice before the Internal Revenue Service or other practice of my profession by any other authority, I am aware of the regulations contained in Circular 230, I am authorized to represent the taxpayer(s) identified in the power of attorney, and I am an individual described in 26 CFR 601. Taxact2010 502(b). Taxact2010 Required information missing. Taxact2010 The IRS will not accept your non-IRS power of attorney if it does not contain all the information listed above. Taxact2010 You can sign and submit a completed Form 2848 or a new non-IRS power of attorney that contains all the information. Taxact2010 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 procedure described next. Taxact2010 Procedure for perfecting a non-IRS power of attorney. Taxact2010 Under the following conditions, the attorney-in-fact named in your non-IRS power of attorney can sign a Form 2848 on your behalf. Taxact2010 The original non-IRS power of attorney grants authority to handle federal tax matters (for example, general authority to perform any acts). Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 Example. Taxact2010 John Elm, a taxpayer, signs a non-IRS durable power of attorney that names his neighbor and CPA, Ed Larch, as his attorney-in-fact. Taxact2010 The power of attorney grants Ed the authority to perform any and all acts on John's behalf. Taxact2010 However, it does not list specific tax-related information such as types of tax or tax form numbers. Taxact2010 Shortly after John signs the power of attorney, he is declared incompetent. Taxact2010 Later, a federal tax matter arises concerning a prior year return filed by John. Taxact2010 Ed attempts to represent John before the IRS but is rejected because the durable power of attorney does not contain required information. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 If Ed can practice before the IRS (see Who Can Practice Before the IRS, earlier), he can name himself as representative on Form 2848. Taxact2010 Otherwise, he must name another individual who can practice before the IRS. Taxact2010 Processing a non-IRS power of attorney. Taxact2010 The IRS has a centralized computer database system called the CAF system. Taxact2010 This system contains information on the authority of taxpayer representatives. Taxact2010 Generally, when you submit a power of attorney document to the IRS, it is processed for inclusion on the CAF system. Taxact2010 Entry of your power of attorney on the CAF system enables IRS personnel, who do not have a copy of your power of attorney, to verify the authority of your representative by accessing the CAF. Taxact2010 It also enables the IRS to automatically send copies of notices and other IRS communications to your representative if you specify that your representative should receive those communications. Taxact2010 You can have your non-IRS power of attorney entered on the CAF system by attaching it to a completed Form 2848 and submitting it to the IRS. Taxact2010 Your signature is not required; however, your attorney-in-fact must sign the Declaration of Representative (see Part II of Form 2848). Taxact2010 Preparation of Form — Helpful Hints The preparation of Form 2848 is illustrated by an example, later under How Do I Fill Out Form 2848. Taxact2010 However, the following will also assist you in preparing the form. Taxact2010 Line-by-line hints. Taxact2010 The following hints are summaries of some of the line-by-line instructions for Form 2848. Taxact2010 Line 1—Taxpayer information. Taxact2010 If a joint return is involved, the husband and wife each file a separate Form 2848 if they both want to be represented. Taxact2010 If only one spouse wants to be represented in the matter, that spouse files a Form 2848. Taxact2010 Line 2—Representative(s). Taxact2010 Only individuals may be named as representatives. Taxact2010 If your representative has not been assigned a CAF number, enter “None” on that line and the IRS will issue one to your representative. Taxact2010 If the representative's address or phone number has changed since the CAF number was issued, you should check the appropriate box. Taxact2010 Enter your representative's fax number if available. Taxact2010 If you want to name more than three representatives, attach additional Form(s) 2848. Taxact2010 The IRS can send copies of notices and communications to two of your representatives. Taxact2010 You must, however, check the boxes on line 2 of the Form 2848 if you want the IRS to routinely send copies of notices and communications to your representatives. Taxact2010 If you do not check the boxes, your representatives will not routinely receive copies of notices and communications. Taxact2010 Line 3—Tax matters. Taxact2010 You may list any tax years or periods that have already ended as of the date you sign the power of attorney. Taxact2010 However, you may include on a power of attorney only future tax periods that end no later than 3 years after the date the power of attorney is received by the IRS. Taxact2010 The 3 future periods are determined starting after December 31 of the year the power of attorney is received by the IRS. Taxact2010 However, avoid general references such as “all years” or “all taxes. Taxact2010 ” Any Form 2848 with general references will be returned. Taxact2010 Line 4—Specific use not recorded on Centralized Authorization File (CAF). Taxact2010 Certain matters cannot be recorded on the CAF system. Taxact2010 Examples of such matters include, but are not limited to, the following. Taxact2010 Requests for a private letter ruling or technical advice. Taxact2010 Applications for an employer identification number (EIN). Taxact2010 Claims filed on Form 843, Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement. Taxact2010 Corporate dissolutions. Taxact2010 Requests for change of accounting method. Taxact2010 Requests for change of accounting period. Taxact2010 Applications for recognition of exemption under sections 501(c)(3), 501(a), or 521 (Forms 1023, 1034, or 1028). Taxact2010 Request for a determination of the qualified status of an employee benefit plan (Forms 5300, 5307, or 5310). Taxact2010 Application for Award for Original Information under section 7623. Taxact2010 Voluntary submissions under the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS). Taxact2010 Freedom of Information Act requests. Taxact2010 If the tax matter described on line 3 of Form 2848 concerns one of these matters specifically, check the box on line 4. Taxact2010 If this box is checked, the representative should mail or fax the power of attorney to the IRS office handling the matter. Taxact2010 Otherwise, the representative should bring a copy of the power of attorney to each meeting with the IRS. Taxact2010 Where To File a Power of Attorney Generally, you can mail or fax a paper Form 2848 directly to the IRS. Taxact2010 To determine where you should file Form 2848, see Where To File in the instructions for Form 2848. Taxact2010 If Form 2848 is for a specific use, mail or fax it to the office handling that matter. Taxact2010 For more information on specific use, see the Instructions for Form 2848, line 4. Taxact2010 FAX copies. Taxact2010 The IRS will accept a copy of a power of attorney that is submitted by facsimile transmission (fax). Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 Your representative may be able to file Form 2848 electronically via the IRS website. Taxact2010 For more information, your representative can go to www. Taxact2010 irs. Taxact2010 gov and under the Tax Professionals tab, click on e-services–Online Tools for Tax Professionals. Taxact2010 If you complete Form 2848 for electronic signature authorization, do not file Form 2848 with the IRS. Taxact2010 Instead, give it to your representative, who will retain the document. Taxact2010 Updating a power of attorney. Taxact2010 Submit any update or modification to an existing power of attorney in writing. Taxact2010 Your signature (or the signature of the individual(s) authorized to sign on your behalf) is required. Taxact2010 Do this by sending the updated Form 2848 or non-IRS power of attorney to the IRS office(s) where you previously sent the original(s), including the center where the related return was, or will be filed. Taxact2010 A recognized representative may substitute or delegate authority if you specifically authorize your representative to substitute or delegate representation in the original power of attorney. Taxact2010 To make a substitution or delegation, the representative must file the following items with the IRS office(s) where the power of attorney was filed. Taxact2010 A written notice of substitution or delegation signed by the recognized representative. Taxact2010 A written declaration of representative made by the new representative. Taxact2010 A copy of the power of attorney that specifically authorizes the substitution or delegation. Taxact2010 Retention/Revocation of Prior Power(s) of Attorney A newly filed power of attorney concerning the same matter will revoke a previously filed power of attorney. Taxact2010 However, the new power of attorney will not revoke the prior power of attorney if it specifically states it does not revoke such prior power of attorney and either of the following are attached to the new power of attorney. Taxact2010 A copy of the unrevoked prior power of attorney, or A statement signed by the taxpayer listing the name and address of each representative authorized under the prior unrevoked power of attorney. Taxact2010 Note. Taxact2010 The filing of Form 2848 will not revoke any Form 8821 that is in effect. Taxact2010 Revocation of Power of Attorney/Withdrawal of Representative If you want to revoke an existing power of attorney and do not want to name a new representative, or if a representative wants to withdraw from representation, mail or fax a copy of the previously executed power of attorney to the IRS, or if the power of attorney is for a specific matter, to the IRS office handling the matter. Taxact2010 If the taxpayer is revoking the power of attorney, the taxpayer must write “REVOKE” across the top of the first page with a current signature and date below this annotation. Taxact2010 If the representative is withdrawing from the representation, the representative must write “WITHDRAW” across the top of the first page with a current signature and date below this annotation. Taxact2010 If you do not have a copy of the power of attorney you want to revoke or withdraw, send a statement to the IRS. Taxact2010 The statement of revocation or withdrawal must indicate that the authority of the power of attorney is revoked or withdrawn, list the matters and periods, and must be signed and dated by the taxpayer or representative as applicable. Taxact2010 If the taxpayer is revoking, list the name and address of each recognized representative whose authority is revoked. Taxact2010 When the taxpayer is completely revoking authority, the form should state “remove all years/periods” instead of listing the specific tax matter, years, or periods. Taxact2010 If the representative is withdrawing, list the name, TIN, and address (if known) of the taxpayer. Taxact2010 To revoke a specific use power of attorney, send the power of attorney or statement of revocation to the IRS office handling your case, using the above instructions. Taxact2010 A power of attorney held by a student will be recorded on the CAF system for 130 days from the receipt date. Taxact2010 If you are authorizing a student to represent you after that time, you will need to submit a current and valid Form 2848. Taxact2010 When Is a Power of Attorney Not Required? A power of attorney is not required when the third party is not dealing with the IRS as your representative. Taxact2010 The following situations do not require a power of attorney. Taxact2010 Providing information to the IRS. Taxact2010 Authorizing the disclosure of tax return information through Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization, or other written or oral disclosure consent. Taxact2010 Allowing the IRS to discuss return information with a third party via the checkbox provided on a tax return or other document. Taxact2010 Allowing a tax matters partner or person (TMP) to perform acts for the partnership. Taxact2010 Allowing the IRS to discuss return information with a fiduciary. Taxact2010 How Do I Fill Out Form 2848? The following example illustrates how to complete Form 2848. Taxact2010 The two completed forms for this example are shown on the next pages. Taxact2010 Example. Taxact2010 Stan and Mary Doe have been notified that their joint tax returns (Forms 1040) for 2009, 2010, and 2011 are being examined. Taxact2010 They have decided to appoint Jim Smith, an enrolled agent, to represent them in this matter and any future matters concerning these returns. Taxact2010 Jim, who has prepared returns at the same location for years, already has a Centralized Authorization File (CAF) number assigned to him. Taxact2010 Mary does not want Jim to sign any agreements on her behalf, but Stan is willing to have Jim do so. Taxact2010 They want copies of all notices and written communications sent to Jim. Taxact2010 This is the first time Stan and Mary have given power of attorney to anyone. Taxact2010 They should each complete a Form 2848 as follows. Taxact2010 Line 1—Taxpayer information. Taxact2010 Stan and Mary must each file a separate Form 2848. Taxact2010 On his separate Form 2848, Stan enters his name, street address, and social security number in the spaces provided. Taxact2010 Mary does likewise on her separate Form 2848. Taxact2010 Line 2—Representative(s). Taxact2010 On their separate Forms 2848, Stan and Mary each enters the name and current address of their chosen representative, Jim Smith. Taxact2010 Both Stan and Mary want Jim Smith to receive notices and communications concerning the matters identified in line 3, so on their separate Forms 2848, Stan and Mary each checks the box in the first column of line 2. Taxact2010 They also enter Mr. Taxact2010 Smith's CAF number, his telephone number, and his fax number. Taxact2010 Mr. Taxact2010 Smith's address, telephone number, and fax number have not changed since the IRS issued his CAF number, so Stan and Mary do not check the boxes in the second column. Taxact2010 Line 3—Tax Matters. Taxact2010 On their separate Forms 2848, Stan and Mary each enters “income” for the type of tax, “1040” for the form number, and “2009, 2010, and 2011” for the tax years. Taxact2010 Line 4—Specific use not recorded on Centralized Authorization File (CAF). Taxact2010 On their separate Forms 2848, Stan and Mary make no entry on this line because they do not want to restrict the use of their powers of attorney to a specific use that is not recorded on the CAF. Taxact2010 See Preparation of Form — Helpful Hints, earlier. Taxact2010 Line 5—Acts authorized. Taxact2010 Mary wants to sign any agreement that reflects changes to her and Stan's joint 2009, 2010, and 2011 income tax liability, so she writes “Taxpayer must sign any agreement form” on line 5 of her Form 2848. Taxact2010 Stan does not wish to restrict the authority of Jim Smith in this regard, so he leaves line 5 of his Form 2848 blank. Taxact2010 If either Mary or Stan had chosen, they could have listed other restrictions on line 5 of their separate Forms 2848. Taxact2010 Line 6—Retention/revocation of prior power(s) of attorney. Taxact2010 Stan and Mary are each filing their first powers of attorney, so they make no entry on this line. Taxact2010 However, if they had filed prior powers of attorney, the filing of this current power would revoke any earlier ones for the same tax matter(s) unless they checked the box on line 6 and attached a copy of the prior power of attorney that they wanted to remain in effect. Taxact2010 If Mary later decides that she can handle the examination on her own, she can revoke her power of attorney even though Stan does not revoke his power of attorney. Taxact2010 (See Revocation of Power of Attorney/Withdrawal of Representative, earlier, for the special rules that apply. Taxact2010 ) Line 7—Signature of taxpayer. Taxact2010 Stan and Mary each signs and dates his or her Form 2848. Taxact2010 If a taxpayer does not sign, the IRS cannot accept the form. Taxact2010 Part II—Declaration of Representative. Taxact2010 Jim Smith must complete this part of Form 2848. Taxact2010 If he does not sign this part, the IRS cannot accept the form. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 However, until a power of attorney is entered on the CAF system, IRS personnel may be unaware of the authority of the person you have named to represent you. Taxact2010 Therefore, during this interim period, IRS personnel may request that you or your representative bring a copy to any meeting with the IRS. Taxact2010 This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Taxact2010 Please click the link to view the image. Taxact2010 Filled-in Form 2848 - Page 1 This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Taxact2010 Please click the link to view the image. Taxact2010 Filled-in Form 2848 - Page 2 This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Taxact2010 Please click the link to view the image. Taxact2010 Filled-in Form 2848 - Page 1 This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Taxact2010 Please click the link to view the image. Taxact2010 Filled-in Form 2848 - Page 2 Processing and Handling How the power of attorney is processed and handled depends on whether it is a complete or incomplete document. Taxact2010 Incomplete document. Taxact2010 If Form 2848 is incomplete, the IRS will attempt to secure the missing information either by writing or telephoning you or your representative. Taxact2010 For example, if your signature or signature date is missing, the IRS will contact you. Taxact2010 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 try to contact your representative. Taxact2010 In either case, the power of attorney is not considered valid until all required information is entered on the document. Taxact2010 The individual(s) named as representative(s) will not be recognized to practice before the IRS, on your behalf, until the document is complete and accepted by the IRS. Taxact2010 Complete document. Taxact2010 If the power of attorney is complete and valid, the IRS will take action to recognize the representative. Taxact2010 In most instances, this includes processing the document on the CAF system. Taxact2010 Recording the data on the CAF system enables the IRS to direct copies of mailings to authorized representatives and to readily recognize the scope of authority granted. Taxact2010 Documents not processed on CAF. Taxact2010 Specific-use powers of attorney are not processed on the CAF system (see Preparation of Form – Helpful Hints, earlier). Taxact2010 For example, a power of attorney that is a one-time or specific-issue grant of authority is not processed on the CAF system. Taxact2010 These documents remain with the related case files. Taxact2010 In this situation, you should check the box on line 4 of Form 2848. Taxact2010 In these situations, the representative should bring a copy of the power of attorney to each meeting with the IRS. Taxact2010 Dealing With the Representative After a valid power of attorney is filed, the IRS will recognize your representative. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 However, 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. Taxact2010 If a representative engages in conduct described above, the matter can be referred to the Office of Professional Responsibility for consideration of possible disciplinary action. Taxact2010 Notices and other correspondence. Taxact2010 If you have a recognized representative, you and the representative will routinely receive notices and other correspondence from the IRS (either the original or a copy) if you checked the box in the left column of line 2 of Form 2848. Taxact2010 If the power of attorney is processed on the CAF system, the IRS will send your representative(s) a duplicate of all computer-generated correspondence that is sent to you. Taxact2010 This includes notices and letters produced either at the Martinsburg Computing Center, or other IRS centers. Taxact2010 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. Taxact2010 How To Get Tax Help You can get help with unresolved tax issues, order free publications and forms, ask tax questions, and get information from the IRS in several ways. Taxact2010 By selecting the method that is best for you, you will have quick and easy access to tax help. Taxact2010 Free help with your return. Taxact2010 Free help in preparing your return is available nationwide from IRS-certified volunteers. Taxact2010 The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is designed to help low and moderate income taxpayers and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program is designed to assist taxpayers age 60 and older with their tax returns. Taxact2010 Most VITA and TCE sites offer free electronic filing and all volunteers will let you know about credits and deductions you may be entitled to claim. Taxact2010 To find the nearest VITA or TCE site, visit IRS. Taxact2010 gov or call 1-800-906-9887 or 1-800-829-1040. Taxact2010 As part of the TCE program, AARP offers the Tax-Aide counseling program. Taxact2010 To find the nearest AARP Tax-Aide site, call 1-888-227-7669 or visit AARP's website at www. Taxact2010 aarp. Taxact2010 org/money/taxaide. Taxact2010 For more information on these programs, go to IRS. Taxact2010 gov and enter keyword “VITA” in the upper right-hand corner. Taxact2010 Internet. Taxact2010 You can access the IRS website at IRS. Taxact2010 gov 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to: E-file your return. Taxact2010 Find out about commercial tax preparation and e-file services available free to eligible taxpayers. Taxact2010 Check the status of your refund. Taxact2010 Go to IRS. Taxact2010 gov and click on Where's My Refund. Taxact2010 Wait at least 72 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of your e-filed return, or 3 to 4 weeks after mailing a paper return. Taxact2010 If you filed Form 8379 with your return, wait 14 weeks (11 weeks if you filed electronically). Taxact2010 Have your tax return available so you can provide your social security number, your filing status, and the exact whole dollar amount of your refund. Taxact2010 Download forms, including talking tax forms, instructions, and publications. Taxact2010 Order IRS products online. Taxact2010 Research your tax questions online. Taxact2010 Search publications online by topic or keyword. Taxact2010 Use the online Internal Revenue Code, regulations, or other official guidance. Taxact2010 View Internal Revenue Bulletins (IRBs) published in the last few years. Taxact2010 Figure your withholding allowances using the withholding calculator online at www. Taxact2010 irs. Taxact2010 gov/individuals. Taxact2010 Determine if Form 6251 must be filed by using our Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) Assistant available online at www. Taxact2010 irs. Taxact2010 gov/individuals. Taxact2010 Sign up to receive local and national tax news by email. Taxact2010 Get information on starting and operating a small business. Taxact2010 Phone. Taxact2010 Many services are available by phone. Taxact2010 Ordering forms, instructions, and publications. Taxact2010 Call 1-800-TAX -FORM (1-800-829-3676) to order current-year forms, instructions, and publications, and prior-year forms and instructions. Taxact2010 You should receive your order within 10 days. Taxact2010 Asking tax questions. Taxact2010 Call the IRS with your tax questions at 1-800-829-1040. Taxact2010 Solving problems. Taxact2010 You can get face-to-face help solving tax problems every business day in IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers. Taxact2010 An employee can explain IRS letters, request adjustments to your account, or help you set up a payment plan. Taxact2010 Call your local Taxpayer Assistance Center for an appointment. Taxact2010 To find the number, go to www. Taxact2010 irs. Taxact2010 gov/localcontacts or look in the phone book under United States Government, Internal Revenue Service. Taxact2010 TTY/TDD equipment. Taxact2010 If you have access to TTY/TDD equipment, call 1-800-829-4059 to ask tax questions or to order forms and publications. Taxact2010 TeleTax topics. Taxact2010 Call 1-800-829-4477 to listen to pre-recorded messages covering various tax topics. Taxact2010 Refund information. Taxact2010 To check the status of your refund, call 1-800-829-1954 or 1-800-829-4477 (automated refund information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week). Taxact2010 Wait at least 72 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of your e-filed return, or 3 to 4 weeks after mailing a paper return. Taxact2010 If you filed Form 8379 with your return, wait 14 weeks (11 weeks if you filed electronically). Taxact2010 Have your tax return available so you can provide your social security number, your filing status, and the exact whole dollar amount of your refund. Taxact2010 If you check the status of your refund and are not given the date it will be issued, please wait until the next week before checking back. Taxact2010 Other refund information. Taxact2010 To check the status of a prior-year refund or amended return refund, call 1-800-829-1040. Taxact2010 Evaluating the quality of our telephone services. Taxact2010 To ensure IRS representatives give accurate, courteous, and professional answers, we use several methods to evaluate the quality of our telephone services. Taxact2010 One method is for a second IRS representative to listen in on or record random telephone calls. Taxact2010 Another is to ask some callers to complete a short survey at the end of the call. Taxact2010 Walk-in. Taxact2010 Many products and services are available on a walk-in basis. Taxact2010 Products. Taxact2010 You can walk in to many post offices, libraries, and IRS offices to pick up certain forms, instructions, and publications. Taxact2010 Some IRS offices, libraries, grocery stores, copy centers, city and county government offices, credit unions, and office supply stores have a collection of products available to print from a CD or photocopy from reproducible proofs. Taxact2010 Also, some IRS offices and libraries have the Internal Revenue Code, regulations, Internal Revenue Bulletins, and Cumulative Bulletins available for research purposes. Taxact2010 Services. Taxact2010 You can walk in to your local Taxpayer Assistance Center every business day for personal, face-to-face tax help. Taxact2010 An employee can explain IRS letters, request adjustments to your tax account, or help you set up a payment plan. Taxact2010 If you need to resolve a tax problem, have questions about how the tax law applies to your individual tax return, or you are more comfortable talking with someone in person, visit your local Taxpayer Assistance Center where you can spread out your records and talk with an IRS representative face-to-face. Taxact2010 No appointment is necessary—just walk in. Taxact2010 If you prefer, you can call your local Center and leave a message requesting an appointment to resolve a tax account issue. Taxact2010 A representative will call you back within 2 business days to schedule an in-person appointment at your convenience. Taxact2010 If you have an ongoing, complex tax account problem or a special need, such as a disability, an appointment can be requested. Taxact2010 All other issues will be handled without an appointment. Taxact2010 To find the number of your local office, go to www. Taxact2010 irs. Taxact2010 gov/localcontacts or look in the phone book under United States Government, Internal Revenue Service. Taxact2010 Mail. Taxact2010 You can send your order for forms, instructions, and publications to the address below. Taxact2010 You should receive a response within 10 days after your request is received. Taxact2010 Internal Revenue Service 1201 N. Taxact2010 Mitsubishi Motorway Bloomington, IL 61705-6613 Taxpayer Advocate Service. Taxact2010 The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is your voice at the IRS. Taxact2010 Our job is to ensure that every taxpayer is treated fairly, and that you know and understand your rights. Taxact2010 We offer free help to guide you through the often-confusing process of resolving tax problems that you haven’t been able to solve on your own. Taxact2010 Remember, the worst thing you can do is nothing at all. Taxact2010 TAS can help if you can’t resolve your problem with the IRS and: Your problem is causing financial difficulties for you, your family, or your business. Taxact2010 You face (or your business is facing) an immediate threat of adverse action. Taxact2010 You have tried repeatedly to contact the IRS but no one has responded, or the IRS has not responded to you by the date promised. Taxact2010 If you qualify for our help, we’ll do everything we can to get your problem resolved. Taxact2010 You will be assigned to one advocate who will be with you at every turn. Taxact2010 We have offices in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Taxact2010 Although TAS is independent within the IRS, our advocates know how to work with the IRS to get your problems resolved. Taxact2010 And our services are always free. Taxact2010 As a taxpayer, you have rights that the IRS must abide by in its dealings with you. Taxact2010 Our tax toolkit at www. Taxact2010 TaxpayerAdvocate. Taxact2010 irs. Taxact2010 gov can help you understand these rights. Taxact2010 If you think TAS might be able to help you, call your local advocate, whose number is in your phone book and on our website at www. Taxact2010 irs. Taxact2010 gov/advocate. Taxact2010 You can also call our toll-free number at 1-877-777-4778 or TTY/TDD 1-800-829-4059. Taxact2010 TAS also handles large-scale or systemic problems that affect many taxpayers. Taxact2010 If you know of one of these broad issues, please report it to us through our Systemic Advocacy Management System at www. Taxact2010 irs. Taxact2010 gov/advocate. Taxact2010 Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs). Taxact2010 Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) are independent from the IRS. Taxact2010 Some clinics serve individuals whose income is below a certain level and who need to resolve a tax problem. Taxact2010 These clinics provide professional representation before the IRS or in court on audits, appeals, tax collection disputes, and other issues for free or for a small fee. Taxact2010 Some clinics can provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in many different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language. Taxact2010 For more information and to find a clinic near you, see the LITC page on www. Taxact2010 irs. Taxact2010 gov/advocate or IRS Publication 4134, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List. Taxact2010 This publication is also available by calling 1-800-829-3676 or at your local IRS office. Taxact2010 Free tax services. Taxact2010 Publication 910, IRS Guide to Free Tax Services, is your guide to IRS services and resources. Taxact2010 Learn about free tax information from the IRS, including publications, services, and education and assistance programs. Taxact2010 The publication also has an index of over 100 TeleTax topics (recorded tax information) you can listen to on the telephone. Taxact2010 The majority of the information and services listed in this publication are available to you free of charge. Taxact2010 If there is a fee associated with a resource or service, it is listed in the publication. Taxact2010 Accessible versions of IRS published products are available on request in a variety of alternative formats for people with disabilities. Taxact2010 DVD for tax products. Taxact2010 You can order Publication 1796, IRS Tax Products DVD, and obtain: Current-year forms, instructions, and publications. Taxact2010 Prior-year forms, instructions, and publications. Taxact2010 Tax Map: an electronic research tool and finding aid. Taxact2010 Tax law frequently asked questions. Taxact2010 Tax Topics from the IRS telephone response system. Taxact2010 Internal Revenue Code—Title 26 of the U. Taxact2010 S. Taxact2010 Code. Taxact2010 Links to other Internet based Tax Research Materials. Taxact2010 Fill-in, print, and save features for most tax forms. Taxact2010 Internal Revenue Bulletins. Taxact2010 Toll-free and email technical support. Taxact2010 Two releases during the year. Taxact2010 – The first release will ship the beginning of January. Taxact2010 – The final release will ship the beginning of March. Taxact2010 Purchase the DVD from National Technical Information Service (NTIS) at www. Taxact2010 irs. Taxact2010 gov/cdorders for $30 (no handling fee) or call 1-877-233-6767 toll free to buy the DVD for $30 (plus a $6 handling fee). Taxact2010 Prev Up Next Home More Online Publications
Managing Household Records
Managing Household Records
When was the last time you couldn't find an important paper you knew you had carefully put away? How do people decide where to store and keep such records? And how do they know what to keep, what to throw away, and when? Do you have a simple system or roadmap for important papers (PDF |download Adobe Reader) to which you or a loved one can refer to in case of an emergency?
Every household must work out its own records management system, but some general guidelines can help. A good system will provide an overview of what happens to property after a major life event occurs.
First, gather your important papers and important documents from throughout your home. Put these documents into three piles: an active file, dead storage, and items to discard or shred. The active file should include documents and financial records you deal with on a regular basis and need to refer to. Keep these readily accessible at home:
- Appliance manuals, warranties and service contracts
- Bank statements
- Bill payment receipts
- Bills awaiting payment
- Credit card information
- Education records, diploma, transcripts, etc.
- Employment records
- Family health records, including vaccination histories
- Health benefit information
- Household inventory
- Income tax working papers
- Insurance policies
- Loan statements and payment books
- Password list
- Receipts for items under warranty
- Safe deposit box inventory (and key)
- Tax receipts, such as those received for charitable deductions
All active file papers over 3-years-old are considered dead storage. This may not necessarily apply to everything—for example, appliance manuals that you use frequently should stay in the active file.
Items to Discard
- Cancelled checks for cash or nondeductible expenses
- Expired warranties
- Pay stubs, after reconciling with W-2
- Other records no longer needed, such as those that were replaced by newer versions, manuals of appliances that you've replaced, etc.
|Document||How Long to Keep It|
|Bank statements||1 year, unless needed to support tax filings|
|Birth certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, passports, education records, military service records||Forever|
|Credit card records||Until paid, unless needed to support tax filings|
|Home purchase and improvement records||As long as you own the property|
|Household inventory||Forever; update as needed|
|Insurance, car, home, etc.||Until you renew the policy|
|Investment statements||Shred your monthly statements; keep annual statements until you sell the investments|
|Investment certificates||Until you cash or sell the item|
|Loan documents||Until you sell the item the loan was for|
|Real estate deeds||As long as you own the property|
|Receipts for large purchases||Until you sell or discard the item|
|Service contracts and warranties||Until you sell or discard the item|
|Social Security card||Forever|
|Social Security statement||When you get your new statement online, shred the old one|
|Tax records||7 years from the filing date|
|Vehicle titles||Until you sell or dispose of the car|
Create Your Filing System
Generally, your home file should include all the items you refer to frequently including bills, warranties, bank statements, etc. You’ll also need a secondary storage location for your more important, difficult to replace papers, such as passports, vehicle titles, birth certificates, etc. A fireproof/waterproof safe may be one possibility, but it's better to store those records in a location away from home, such as a bank safe deposit box.
Organize your home filing system (PDF | download Adobe Reader) in a way that you can understand and manage. Choose one member of your household as file manager who will take responsibility for keeping the filing up-to-date and consistent. However, in case of an emergency, everyone in the household needs to be familiar with the system, including children old enough to understand how to use it. Develop and stick to a regular filing and paperwork schedule to avoid having to deal with backlogged papers. A few minutes once or twice a week should be sufficient.
Consider scanning and storing some documents electronically since it's best to save your important documents and files in a way that can easily be carried away and accessed later. Scanning will give you easy access to your documents and allow you to transfer them via e-mail and easily make back-up copies. Investing in an external hard drive for your computer and regularly backing up important documents will allow you to carry away the external hard drive at a moment's notice.
If you don’t have the time or the desire to take these steps, or have realized that the task is too much to handle, consider asking a friend or family member to help you focus and give a fresh perspective. Or, you may want to consider hiring a professional organizer to provide structure, solutions, and systems, and help you gain a sense of control.
Safe Deposit Box
Once you have organized your documents, you’ll want to consider getting an off-site storage location, such as a safe deposit box. Use the safe deposit box for originals, but remember, you'll still need copies at home if something tragic should happen to you and your safe deposit box gets sealed. Always seal documents stored in a safe deposit box in airtight waterproof containers (like Ziploc bags) to ensure they don’t get damaged. If you'd rather keep your records at home, then get a fireproof/waterproof safe. A good rule of thumb is: Put documents in the box if you can't easily replace them or if you don't know what might happen if you don't have them.
If applicable, you should have official or certified copies of documents for your safe deposit box. "Official" means an original copy with all required signatures. Select documents, such as birth certificates, must also be certified or notarized to be considered valid. You can get most government records for free or at low cost from a government office or online at a government agency's website. If you are unsure whether you need a certified copy, or want more information about which local government office can give you originals of these documents, contact your local consumer protection office. Consult your attorney before you put an original copy of your will in a safe deposit box—some states don’t permit access after a person dies.
If you need to obtain documents regarding birth, death, marriage, or divorce, check out Where to Write for Vital Records for guidance. Be wary of companies that offer to sell you copies of official papers; you should check with the appropriate government agency to see if they will provide the same information free or at a lower price.
Consider keeping copies of the following documents in a safe deposit box or locked in a fireproof/waterproof safe in your home:
- Adoption papers
- Advance directives*
- Birth and death certificates
- Citizenship papers
- Contracts of importance
- Deeds and property titles
- Household inventory
- Life insurance policies
- Marriage licenses and divorce decrees
- Military discharge papers
- Powers of attorney*
- Social Security cards
- Stock and bond certificates
*Since the safe deposit box will be sealed at your death, keep a copy of your will somewhere accessible. The same goes for the advance directive and powers of attorney since you may not be able to give others access to the safe deposit box.
Grab and Go Kit for Emergencies
Disasters like floods, fires, earthquakes, and tornadoes strike without warning and can affect anyone. Your number one priority in these situations is making sure your family is safe—not finding your most recent copies of insurance policies or bank statements. An easy-to-grab emergency financial records kit (PDF | download Adobe Reader) will make sure you have access to important documents in case the unexpected happens to you.
What Documents Should You Have Ready?
Store the documents in an accordion file and keep it in your emergency supply kit so that everything you need is together. Items you should put in the kit include originals or copies of:
- Birth and marriage certificates, divorce decrees
- Social Security cards of household members
- Driver's license and other wallet cards
- Will and/or trust documents; powers of attorney
- Recent income tax return
- Passports and/or other identity documents
- Military discharge papers
- A list of your prescriptions: name of medication, dosage, pharmacy
Other important papers include:
- Contacts for family members, employer, financial advisors, attorney, accountant, and banker
- Insurance policy information
- Bank, credit union, and credit card account list
- Summary of personal, financial, property, and other vital information
Other items to consider including:
- Safe deposit box keys and/or safe combination
- Computer user names and passwords; CD with relevant personal, financial, legal files
- Some emergency cash
Remember that these documents contain personal information like social security numbers and bank account information that could be used against you if it fell into the wrong hands. Be sure your emergency financial records kit is stored in a secure location in your home so it is easy for you to carry away in a disaster not for a thief to carry away in a robbery.