What Is Form 2848: Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative?

Form 2848: Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative is an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) document that authorizes an individual or organization to represent a taxpayer by appearing before the IRS—at an audit, for example.

Federal law requires the IRS to keep confidential all of the information that you supply on your tax return. So, you must file a Form 2848 with the IRS before anyone other than yourself may receive and inspect your tax information, and represent you to the IRS.

What is the Purpose of Form 2848?

The IRS Form 2848 is similar, but not identical to a power of attorney (POA). It does not, however, relieve the taxpayer of any tax liability. When you sign Form 2848, you authorize a certified public accountant (CPA), attorney, or other person designated as your agent to take certain actions on your behalf:

  • Receive confidential tax information.
  • Sign an agreement with the IRS regarding taxes, on tax returns specified on Form 2848.
  • Sign documents requesting additional time to assess the tax obligation, as well as extra time in order to agree to a tax adjustment.
  • Sign a tax return in limited situations: if you are suffering from a disease or injury, or you are outside of the United States continuously for at least 60 days before the date that a return is required to be filed. In any other circumstance—for example, you’re on vacation in the U.S. before and after your return has been prepared and must be filed—you must submit a request in writing to the IRS for permission for someone—such as a tax preparer—to sign your return.

However, Form 2848 is not a blanket grant of authority to do everything connected with taxes on your behalf. For instance, your agent cannot:

  • Endorse or negotiate a refund check, or direct that a refund be deposited electronically into the agent’s account.
  • Substitute another agent for him or herself (although you can specifically authorize this).

Taxpayers can revoke previously named representatives by writing "REVOKE" across the top of a new Form 2848, signing it, and sending it to the IRS with a copy of the original Form 2848.

Who Can File Form 2848?

Anyone who wishes to be represented by an authorized power of attorney when meeting with the IRS may fill out and submit Form 2848. Authorized individuals or organizations include attorneys or law firms, CPAs, and enrolled agents. These agents can fully represent taxpayers to the IRS.

The IRS also allows individuals who are related to the taxpayer, such as family members or fiduciaries, to act as third-party representatives. However, their access is limited and they may represent taxpayers only in the presence of customer-service agents, revenue agents, or similar IRS employees. They cannot execute closing agreements, waivers, or refunds. Moreover, they cannot sign documents for taxpayers.

Instructions for Filing Form 2848

You may download Form 2848 from the Internal revenue Service along with detailed filing instructions. In order for Form 2848 to be effective, you need to specify the tax form and year for which you are granting authority. This includes:

  • Description of the matter—for example, income taxes.
  • Tax form number—for example, 1040. Saying “all forms” is not sufficient.
  • Year or period of applicability—for example, 2014. Saying “all years” or “all periods” is not sufficient.

You'll also need to provide specific information about your agent or representative:

You must sign the form. If you filed jointly and each spouse wants to grant authority, each must file a separate Form 2848 to designate a representative (you don’t need to use the same representative).

Form 2848 vs. Form 8821

Whereas Form 2848 allows a power of attorney to represent a taxpayer before the IRS, Form 8821: Tax Information Authorization empowers someone to receive and inspect your confidential information without representing you to the IRS. In other words, you may use Form 8821 when you want someone merely to see your tax information—as when you're applying for a mortgage and need to share your tax information with your lender.

Key Takeaways

  • Form 2848 authorizes individuals or organizations to represent a taxpayer when appearing before the IRS.
  • Authorized representatives, include attorneys, CPAs, and enrolled agents.
  • Signing Form 2848 and authorizing someone to represent you does not relieve a taxpayer of any tax liability.