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TaxactTaxact 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). Taxact 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. Taxact The Office of Professional Responsibility generally has responsibility for matters related to practitioner conduct and exclusive responsibility for discipline, including disciplinary proceedings and sanctions. Taxact 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. Taxact What Is Practice Before the IRS? Practice before the IRS covers all matters relating to any of the following. Taxact Communicating with the IRS for a taxpayer regarding the taxpayer's rights, privileges, or liabilities under laws and regulations administered by the IRS. Taxact Representing a taxpayer at conferences, hearings, or meetings with the IRS. Taxact Preparing and filing documents, including tax returns, with the IRS for a taxpayer. Taxact Providing a client with written advice which has a potential for tax avoidance or evasion. Taxact Furnishing information at the request of the IRS or appearing as a witness for the taxpayer is not practice before the IRS. Taxact Who Can Practice Before the IRS? The following individuals can practice before the IRS. Taxact 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. Taxact Form 2848 can be used for this purpose. Taxact Attorneys. Taxact 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. Taxact Certified public accountants (CPAs). Taxact 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. Taxact Enrolled agents. Taxact Any enrolled agent in active status who is not currently under suspension or disbarment from practice before the IRS may practice before the IRS. Taxact Enrolled retirement plan agents. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact Enrolled actuaries. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact Student. Taxact Under certain circumstances, a student who is supervised by a practitioner may request permission to represent another person before the IRS. Taxact For more information, see Authorization for special appearances, later. Taxact Registered tax return preparers and unenrolled return preparers. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact See Form 8821. Taxact Practice denied. Taxact Any individual engaged in limited practice before the IRS who is involved in disreputable conduct is subject to disciplinary action. Taxact 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. Taxact Other individuals who may serve as representatives. Taxact 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. Taxact An individual. Taxact An individual can represent himself or herself before the IRS and does not have to file a written declaration of qualification and authority. Taxact A family member. Taxact An individual can represent members of his or her immediate family. Taxact Immediate family includes a spouse, child, parent, brother, or sister of the individual. Taxact An officer. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact A partner. Taxact A general partner may represent the partnership before the IRS. Taxact An employee. Taxact A regular full-time employee can represent his or her employer. Taxact 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. Taxact A fiduciary. Taxact 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. Taxact See Fiduciary under When Is a Power of Attorney Not Required, later. Taxact 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. Taxact See section 10. Taxact 7(c)(1)(vii) of Circular 230. Taxact 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. Taxact The prospective representative must request this authorization in writing from the Office of Professional Responsibility. Taxact However, it is granted only when extremely compelling circumstances exist. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact The issuance of a CAF number does not indicate that an individual is either recognized or authorized to practice before the IRS. Taxact It merely confirms that a centralized file for authorizations has been established for the individual under that number. Taxact Students in LITCs and the STCP. Taxact 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. Taxact Authorization requests must be made to the Office of Professional Responsibility. Taxact If granted, a letter authorizing the student's special appearance and detailing any conditions related to the appearance will be issued. Taxact Students receiving an authorization letter generally can represent taxpayers before any IRS function or office subject to any conditions in the authorization letter. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact If an individual loses eligibility to practice, the IRS will not recognize a power of attorney that names the individual as a representative. Taxact Corporations, associations, partnerships, and other persons that are not individuals. Taxact These organizations (or persons) are not eligible to practice before the IRS. Taxact Loss of Eligibility Generally, individuals lose their eligibility to practice before the IRS in the following ways. Taxact Not meeting the requirements for renewal of enrollment (such as continuing professional education). Taxact Requesting to be placed in inactive retirement status. Taxact Being suspended or disbarred by the Office of Professional Responsibility for violating the regulations governing practice before the IRS. Taxact Failure to meet requirements. Taxact Individuals who fail to comply with the requirements for eligibility for renewal of enrollment will be notified by the IRS. Taxact The notice will explain the reason for noncompliance and provide the individual with an opportunity to furnish information for reconsideration. Taxact The individual has 60 days from the date of the notice to respond. Taxact Inactive roster. Taxact 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. Taxact The individual must file an application for renewal and satisfy all requirements for renewal after being placed in inactive status. Taxact Otherwise, at the conclusion of the next renewal cycle, he or she will be removed from the roster and the enrollment or registration terminated. Taxact Inactive retirement status. Taxact Individuals who request to be placed in an inactive retirement status will be ineligible to practice before the IRS. Taxact They must continue to adhere to all renewal requirements. Taxact 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. Taxact Suspension and disbarment. Taxact 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. Taxact This includes engaging in acts of disreputable conduct. Taxact For more information, see Incompetence and Disreputable Conduct under What are the Rules of Practice, later. Taxact Practitioners who are suspended in a disciplinary proceeding are not allowed to practice before the IRS during the period of suspension. Taxact See What Is Practice Before the IRS, earlier. Taxact Practitioners who are disbarred in a disciplinary proceeding are not allowed to practice before the IRS. Taxact However, a practitioner can seek reinstatement from the Office of Professional Responsibility five years after disbarment. Taxact If the practitioner seeks reinstatement, he or she may not practice before the IRS until the Office of Professional Responsibility authorizes reinstatement. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact Enrollment also can be granted to an applicant who qualifies because of past service and technical experience in the IRS. Taxact In either case, certain application forms, discussed next, must be filed. Taxact Additionally, an applicant must not have engaged in any conduct that would justify suspension or disbarment from practice before the IRS. Taxact See Incompetence and Disreputable Conduct, later. Taxact Form 2587. Taxact Applicants can apply to take the special enrollment examination by filing Form 2587, Application for Special Enrollment Examination. Taxact Form 2587 can be filed online, by mail, or by fax. Taxact For more information, see instructions and fees listed on the form. Taxact To get Form 2587, see How To Get Tax Help, later. Taxact Form 23 and Form 23-EP. Taxact 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. Taxact The application must include a check or money order in the amount of the fee shown on Form 23 or Form 23-EP. Taxact Alternatively, payment may be made electronically pursuant to instructions on the forms. Taxact To get Form 23 or Form 23-EP, see How To Get Tax Help, later. Taxact Form 5434. Taxact 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. Taxact The application must include a check or money order in the amount of the fee shown on Form 5434. Taxact To get Form 5434, see How To Get Tax Help, later. Taxact Period of enrollment. Taxact An enrollment card will be issued to each individual whose enrollment application is approved. Taxact The individual is enrolled until the expiration date shown on the enrollment card or certificate. Taxact 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). Taxact What Are the Rules of Practice? The rules governing practice before the IRS are published in the Code of Federal Regulations at 31 C. Taxact F. Taxact R. Taxact part 10 and reprinted in Treasury Department Circular No. Taxact 230 (Circular 230). Taxact 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. Taxact In addition, a practitioner cannot engage in disreputable conduct (discussed later). Taxact Any practitioner who does not comply with the rules of practice or engages in disreputable conduct is subject to disciplinary action. Taxact Also, unenrolled preparers must comply with the rules of practice and conduct to exercise the privilege of limited practice before the IRS. Taxact See Publication 470 for a discussion of the special rules for limited practice by unenrolled preparers. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact Communications regarding corporate tax shelters. Taxact 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. Taxact Duty to advise. Taxact 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. Taxact Due diligence. Taxact A practitioner must exercise due diligence when performing the following duties. Taxact Preparing or assisting in the preparing, approving, and filing of returns, documents, affidavits, and other papers relating to IRS matters. Taxact Determining the correctness of oral or written representations made by him or her to the Department of the Treasury. Taxact Determining the correctness of oral or written representations made by him or her to clients with reference to any matter administered by the IRS. Taxact Restrictions Practitioners are restricted from engaging in certain practices. Taxact The following paragraphs discuss some of these restricted practices. Taxact Delays. Taxact A practitioner must not unreasonably delay the prompt disposition of any matter before the IRS. Taxact Assistance from disbarred or suspended persons and former IRS employees. Taxact A practitioner must not knowingly, directly or indirectly, do the following. Taxact 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. Taxact Accept assistance from any former government employee where provisions of Circular 230 or any federal law would be violated. Taxact Performance as a notary. Taxact 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. Taxact Negotiations of taxpayer refund checks. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact The following list contains examples of conduct that is considered disreputable. Taxact Being convicted of any criminal offense under the revenue laws or of any offense involving dishonesty or breach of trust. Taxact Knowingly giving false or misleading information in connection with federal tax matters, or participating in such activity. Taxact Soliciting employment by prohibited means as discussed in section 10. Taxact 30 of Circular 230. Taxact Willfully failing to file a federal tax return, evading or attempting to evade any federal tax or payment, or participating in such actions. Taxact Misappropriating, or failing to properly and promptly remit, funds received from clients for payment of taxes or other obligations due the United States. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact Knowingly aiding and abetting another person to practice before the IRS during a period of suspension, disbarment, or ineligibility of that other person. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact A practitioner will be given the opportunity to demonstrate compliance with the rules before any disciplinary action is taken. Taxact Authorizing a Representative You may either represent yourself, or you may authorize an individual to represent you before the IRS. Taxact If you chose to have someone represent you, your representative must be a person eligible to practice before the IRS. Taxact See Who Can Practice Before the IRS, earlier. Taxact What Is a Power of Attorney? A power of attorney is your written authorization for an individual to act on your behalf. Taxact If the authorization is not limited, the individual generally can perform all acts that you can perform. Taxact The authority granted to a registered tax return preparer or an unenrolled preparer is limited. Taxact For information on the limits regarding registered tax return preparers, see Circular 230 §10. Taxact 3(f). Taxact For information on the limits regarding unenrolled preparers, see Publication 470. Taxact Acts performed. Taxact Any representative, other than a registered tax return preparer or an unenrolled return preparer, can usually perform the following acts. Taxact Represent you before any office of the IRS. Taxact 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. Taxact Sign a consent to extend the statutory time period for assessment or collection of a tax. Taxact Sign a closing agreement. Taxact Signing your return. Taxact 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. Taxact 6012-1(a)(5)). Taxact You specifically authorize this in your power of attorney. Taxact For example, the regulation permits a representative to sign your return if you are unable to sign the return due to: Disease or injury. Taxact 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. Taxact Other good cause if specific permission is requested of and granted by the IRS. Taxact 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. Taxact For more information, see the Form 2848 instructions. Taxact Limitation on substitution or delegation. Taxact 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. Taxact After a substitution has been made, only the newly recognized representative will be recognized as the taxpayer's representative. Taxact If a delegation of power has been made, both the original and the delegated representative will be recognized by the IRS to represent you. Taxact Disclosure of returns to a third party. Taxact 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. Taxact Incapacity or incompetency. Taxact A power of attorney is generally terminated if you become incapacitated or incompetent. Taxact 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. Taxact See Non-IRS powers of attorney, later. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact Represent you at a meeting with the IRS. Taxact Prepare and file a written response to the IRS. Taxact Form Required Use Form 2848 to appoint a recognized representative to act on your behalf before the IRS. Taxact Individuals recognized to practice before the IRS are listed under Part II, Declaration of Representative, of Form 2848. Taxact Your representative must complete that part of the form. Taxact Non-IRS powers of attorney. Taxact 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. Taxact For more information, see Processing a non-IRS power of attorney, later. Taxact If you want to use a power of attorney document other than Form 2848, it must contain the following information. Taxact Your name and mailing address. Taxact Your social security number and/or employer identification number. Taxact Your employee plan number, if applicable. Taxact The name and mailing address of your representative(s). Taxact The types of tax involved. Taxact The federal tax form number. Taxact The specific year(s) or period(s) involved. Taxact For estate tax matters, the decedent's date of death. Taxact A clear expression of your intention concerning the scope of authority granted to your representative(s). Taxact Your signature and date. Taxact You also must attach to the non-IRS power of attorney a signed and dated statement made by your representative. Taxact This statement, which is referred to as the Declaration of Representative, is contained in Part II of Form 2848. Taxact 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. Taxact 502(b). Taxact Required information missing. Taxact The IRS will not accept your non-IRS power of attorney if it does not contain all the information listed above. Taxact You can sign and submit a completed Form 2848 or a new non-IRS power of attorney that contains all the information. Taxact 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. Taxact Procedure for perfecting a non-IRS power of attorney. Taxact Under the following conditions, the attorney-in-fact named in your non-IRS power of attorney can sign a Form 2848 on your behalf. Taxact The original non-IRS power of attorney grants authority to handle federal tax matters (for example, general authority to perform any acts). Taxact 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. Taxact Example. Taxact 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. Taxact The power of attorney grants Ed the authority to perform any and all acts on John's behalf. Taxact However, it does not list specific tax-related information such as types of tax or tax form numbers. Taxact Shortly after John signs the power of attorney, he is declared incompetent. Taxact Later, a federal tax matter arises concerning a prior year return filed by John. Taxact Ed attempts to represent John before the IRS but is rejected because the durable power of attorney does not contain required information. Taxact 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. Taxact If Ed can practice before the IRS (see Who Can Practice Before the IRS, earlier), he can name himself as representative on Form 2848. Taxact Otherwise, he must name another individual who can practice before the IRS. Taxact Processing a non-IRS power of attorney. Taxact The IRS has a centralized computer database system called the CAF system. Taxact This system contains information on the authority of taxpayer representatives. Taxact Generally, when you submit a power of attorney document to the IRS, it is processed for inclusion on the CAF system. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact Your signature is not required; however, your attorney-in-fact must sign the Declaration of Representative (see Part II of Form 2848). Taxact Preparation of Form — Helpful Hints The preparation of Form 2848 is illustrated by an example, later under How Do I Fill Out Form 2848. Taxact However, the following will also assist you in preparing the form. Taxact Line-by-line hints. Taxact The following hints are summaries of some of the line-by-line instructions for Form 2848. Taxact Line 1—Taxpayer information. Taxact If a joint return is involved, the husband and wife each file a separate Form 2848 if they both want to be represented. Taxact If only one spouse wants to be represented in the matter, that spouse files a Form 2848. Taxact Line 2—Representative(s). Taxact Only individuals may be named as representatives. Taxact If your representative has not been assigned a CAF number, enter “None” on that line and the IRS will issue one to your representative. Taxact If the representative's address or phone number has changed since the CAF number was issued, you should check the appropriate box. Taxact Enter your representative's fax number if available. Taxact If you want to name more than three representatives, attach additional Form(s) 2848. Taxact The IRS can send copies of notices and communications to two of your representatives. Taxact 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. Taxact If you do not check the boxes, your representatives will not routinely receive copies of notices and communications. Taxact Line 3—Tax matters. Taxact You may list any tax years or periods that have already ended as of the date you sign the power of attorney. Taxact 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. Taxact The 3 future periods are determined starting after December 31 of the year the power of attorney is received by the IRS. Taxact However, avoid general references such as “all years” or “all taxes. Taxact ” Any Form 2848 with general references will be returned. Taxact Line 4—Specific use not recorded on Centralized Authorization File (CAF). Taxact Certain matters cannot be recorded on the CAF system. Taxact Examples of such matters include, but are not limited to, the following. Taxact Requests for a private letter ruling or technical advice. Taxact Applications for an employer identification number (EIN). Taxact Claims filed on Form 843, Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement. Taxact Corporate dissolutions. Taxact Requests for change of accounting method. Taxact Requests for change of accounting period. Taxact Applications for recognition of exemption under sections 501(c)(3), 501(a), or 521 (Forms 1023, 1034, or 1028). Taxact Request for a determination of the qualified status of an employee benefit plan (Forms 5300, 5307, or 5310). Taxact Application for Award for Original Information under section 7623. Taxact Voluntary submissions under the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS). Taxact Freedom of Information Act requests. Taxact If the tax matter described on line 3 of Form 2848 concerns one of these matters specifically, check the box on line 4. Taxact If this box is checked, the representative should mail or fax the power of attorney to the IRS office handling the matter. Taxact Otherwise, the representative should bring a copy of the power of attorney to each meeting with the IRS. Taxact Where To File a Power of Attorney Generally, you can mail or fax a paper Form 2848 directly to the IRS. Taxact To determine where you should file Form 2848, see Where To File in the instructions for Form 2848. Taxact If Form 2848 is for a specific use, mail or fax it to the office handling that matter. Taxact For more information on specific use, see the Instructions for Form 2848, line 4. Taxact FAX copies. Taxact The IRS will accept a copy of a power of attorney that is submitted by facsimile transmission (fax). Taxact 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. Taxact Your representative may be able to file Form 2848 electronically via the IRS website. Taxact For more information, your representative can go to www. Taxact irs. Taxact gov and under the Tax Professionals tab, click on e-services–Online Tools for Tax Professionals. Taxact If you complete Form 2848 for electronic signature authorization, do not file Form 2848 with the IRS. Taxact Instead, give it to your representative, who will retain the document. Taxact Updating a power of attorney. Taxact Submit any update or modification to an existing power of attorney in writing. Taxact Your signature (or the signature of the individual(s) authorized to sign on your behalf) is required. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact A written notice of substitution or delegation signed by the recognized representative. Taxact A written declaration of representative made by the new representative. Taxact A copy of the power of attorney that specifically authorizes the substitution or delegation. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact Note. Taxact The filing of Form 2848 will not revoke any Form 8821 that is in effect. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact If you do not have a copy of the power of attorney you want to revoke or withdraw, send a statement to the IRS. Taxact 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. Taxact If the taxpayer is revoking, list the name and address of each recognized representative whose authority is revoked. Taxact 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. Taxact If the representative is withdrawing, list the name, TIN, and address (if known) of the taxpayer. Taxact 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. Taxact A power of attorney held by a student will be recorded on the CAF system for 130 days from the receipt date. Taxact If you are authorizing a student to represent you after that time, you will need to submit a current and valid Form 2848. Taxact 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. Taxact The following situations do not require a power of attorney. Taxact Providing information to the IRS. Taxact Authorizing the disclosure of tax return information through Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization, or other written or oral disclosure consent. Taxact Allowing the IRS to discuss return information with a third party via the checkbox provided on a tax return or other document. Taxact Allowing a tax matters partner or person (TMP) to perform acts for the partnership. Taxact Allowing the IRS to discuss return information with a fiduciary. Taxact How Do I Fill Out Form 2848? The following example illustrates how to complete Form 2848. Taxact The two completed forms for this example are shown on the next pages. Taxact Example. Taxact Stan and Mary Doe have been notified that their joint tax returns (Forms 1040) for 2009, 2010, and 2011 are being examined. Taxact They have decided to appoint Jim Smith, an enrolled agent, to represent them in this matter and any future matters concerning these returns. Taxact Jim, who has prepared returns at the same location for years, already has a Centralized Authorization File (CAF) number assigned to him. Taxact Mary does not want Jim to sign any agreements on her behalf, but Stan is willing to have Jim do so. Taxact They want copies of all notices and written communications sent to Jim. Taxact This is the first time Stan and Mary have given power of attorney to anyone. Taxact They should each complete a Form 2848 as follows. Taxact Line 1—Taxpayer information. Taxact Stan and Mary must each file a separate Form 2848. Taxact On his separate Form 2848, Stan enters his name, street address, and social security number in the spaces provided. Taxact Mary does likewise on her separate Form 2848. Taxact Line 2—Representative(s). Taxact On their separate Forms 2848, Stan and Mary each enters the name and current address of their chosen representative, Jim Smith. Taxact 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. Taxact They also enter Mr. Taxact Smith's CAF number, his telephone number, and his fax number. Taxact Mr. Taxact 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. Taxact Line 3—Tax Matters. Taxact 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. Taxact Line 4—Specific use not recorded on Centralized Authorization File (CAF). Taxact 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. Taxact See Preparation of Form — Helpful Hints, earlier. Taxact Line 5—Acts authorized. Taxact 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. Taxact Stan does not wish to restrict the authority of Jim Smith in this regard, so he leaves line 5 of his Form 2848 blank. Taxact If either Mary or Stan had chosen, they could have listed other restrictions on line 5 of their separate Forms 2848. Taxact Line 6—Retention/revocation of prior power(s) of attorney. Taxact Stan and Mary are each filing their first powers of attorney, so they make no entry on this line. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact (See Revocation of Power of Attorney/Withdrawal of Representative, earlier, for the special rules that apply. Taxact ) Line 7—Signature of taxpayer. Taxact Stan and Mary each signs and dates his or her Form 2848. Taxact If a taxpayer does not sign, the IRS cannot accept the form. Taxact Part II—Declaration of Representative. Taxact Jim Smith must complete this part of Form 2848. Taxact If he does not sign this part, the IRS cannot accept the form. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact Therefore, during this interim period, IRS personnel may request that you or your representative bring a copy to any meeting with the IRS. Taxact This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Taxact Please click the link to view the image. Taxact Filled-in Form 2848 - Page 1 This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Taxact Please click the link to view the image. Taxact Filled-in Form 2848 - Page 2 This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Taxact Please click the link to view the image. Taxact Filled-in Form 2848 - Page 1 This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Taxact Please click the link to view the image. Taxact 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. Taxact Incomplete document. Taxact If Form 2848 is incomplete, the IRS will attempt to secure the missing information either by writing or telephoning you or your representative. Taxact For example, if your signature or signature date is missing, the IRS will contact you. Taxact 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. Taxact In either case, the power of attorney is not considered valid until all required information is entered on the document. Taxact 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. Taxact Complete document. Taxact If the power of attorney is complete and valid, the IRS will take action to recognize the representative. Taxact In most instances, this includes processing the document on the CAF system. Taxact 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. Taxact Documents not processed on CAF. Taxact Specific-use powers of attorney are not processed on the CAF system (see Preparation of Form – Helpful Hints, earlier). Taxact For example, a power of attorney that is a one-time or specific-issue grant of authority is not processed on the CAF system. Taxact These documents remain with the related case files. Taxact In this situation, you should check the box on line 4 of Form 2848. Taxact In these situations, the representative should bring a copy of the power of attorney to each meeting with the IRS. Taxact Dealing With the Representative After a valid power of attorney is filed, the IRS will recognize your representative. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact Notices and other correspondence. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact This includes notices and letters produced either at the Martinsburg Computing Center, or other IRS centers. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact By selecting the method that is best for you, you will have quick and easy access to tax help. Taxact Free help with your return. Taxact Free help in preparing your return is available nationwide from IRS-certified volunteers. Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact To find the nearest VITA or TCE site, visit IRS. Taxact gov or call 1-800-906-9887 or 1-800-829-1040. Taxact As part of the TCE program, AARP offers the Tax-Aide counseling program. Taxact To find the nearest AARP Tax-Aide site, call 1-888-227-7669 or visit AARP's website at www. Taxact aarp. Taxact org/money/taxaide. Taxact For more information on these programs, go to IRS. Taxact gov and enter keyword “VITA” in the upper right-hand corner. Taxact Internet. Taxact You can access the IRS website at IRS. Taxact gov 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to: E-file your return. Taxact Find out about commercial tax preparation and e-file services available free to eligible taxpayers. Taxact Check the status of your refund. Taxact Go to IRS. Taxact gov and click on Where's My Refund. Taxact 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. Taxact If you filed Form 8379 with your return, wait 14 weeks (11 weeks if you filed electronically). Taxact 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. Taxact Download forms, including talking tax forms, instructions, and publications. Taxact Order IRS products online. Taxact Research your tax questions online. Taxact Search publications online by topic or keyword. Taxact Use the online Internal Revenue Code, regulations, or other official guidance. Taxact View Internal Revenue Bulletins (IRBs) published in the last few years. Taxact Figure your withholding allowances using the withholding calculator online at www. Taxact irs. Taxact gov/individuals. Taxact Determine if Form 6251 must be filed by using our Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) Assistant available online at www. Taxact irs. Taxact gov/individuals. Taxact Sign up to receive local and national tax news by email. Taxact Get information on starting and operating a small business. Taxact Phone. Taxact Many services are available by phone. Taxact Ordering forms, instructions, and publications. Taxact Call 1-800-TAX -FORM (1-800-829-3676) to order current-year forms, instructions, and publications, and prior-year forms and instructions. Taxact You should receive your order within 10 days. Taxact Asking tax questions. Taxact Call the IRS with your tax questions at 1-800-829-1040. Taxact Solving problems. Taxact You can get face-to-face help solving tax problems every business day in IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers. Taxact An employee can explain IRS letters, request adjustments to your account, or help you set up a payment plan. Taxact Call your local Taxpayer Assistance Center for an appointment. Taxact To find the number, go to www. Taxact irs. Taxact gov/localcontacts or look in the phone book under United States Government, Internal Revenue Service. Taxact TTY/TDD equipment. Taxact If you have access to TTY/TDD equipment, call 1-800-829-4059 to ask tax questions or to order forms and publications. Taxact TeleTax topics. Taxact Call 1-800-829-4477 to listen to pre-recorded messages covering various tax topics. Taxact Refund information. Taxact 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). Taxact 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. Taxact If you filed Form 8379 with your return, wait 14 weeks (11 weeks if you filed electronically). Taxact 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. Taxact 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. Taxact Other refund information. Taxact To check the status of a prior-year refund or amended return refund, call 1-800-829-1040. Taxact Evaluating the quality of our telephone services. Taxact To ensure IRS representatives give accurate, courteous, and professional answers, we use several methods to evaluate the quality of our telephone services. Taxact One method is for a second IRS representative to listen in on or record random telephone calls. Taxact Another is to ask some callers to complete a short survey at the end of the call. Taxact Walk-in. Taxact Many products and services are available on a walk-in basis. Taxact Products. Taxact You can walk in to many post offices, libraries, and IRS offices to pick up certain forms, instructions, and publications. Taxact 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. Taxact Also, some IRS offices and libraries have the Internal Revenue Code, regulations, Internal Revenue Bulletins, and Cumulative Bulletins available for research purposes. Taxact Services. Taxact You can walk in to your local Taxpayer Assistance Center every business day for personal, face-to-face tax help. Taxact An employee can explain IRS letters, request adjustments to your tax account, or help you set up a payment plan. Taxact 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. Taxact No appointment is necessary—just walk in. Taxact If you prefer, you can call your local Center and leave a message requesting an appointment to resolve a tax account issue. Taxact A representative will call you back within 2 business days to schedule an in-person appointment at your convenience. Taxact If you have an ongoing, complex tax account problem or a special need, such as a disability, an appointment can be requested. Taxact All other issues will be handled without an appointment. Taxact To find the number of your local office, go to www. Taxact irs. Taxact gov/localcontacts or look in the phone book under United States Government, Internal Revenue Service. Taxact Mail. Taxact You can send your order for forms, instructions, and publications to the address below. Taxact You should receive a response within 10 days after your request is received. Taxact Internal Revenue Service 1201 N. Taxact Mitsubishi Motorway Bloomington, IL 61705-6613 Taxpayer Advocate Service. Taxact The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is your voice at the IRS. Taxact Our job is to ensure that every taxpayer is treated fairly, and that you know and understand your rights. Taxact 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. Taxact Remember, the worst thing you can do is nothing at all. Taxact 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. Taxact You face (or your business is facing) an immediate threat of adverse action. Taxact 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. Taxact If you qualify for our help, we’ll do everything we can to get your problem resolved. Taxact You will be assigned to one advocate who will be with you at every turn. Taxact We have offices in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Taxact Although TAS is independent within the IRS, our advocates know how to work with the IRS to get your problems resolved. Taxact And our services are always free. Taxact As a taxpayer, you have rights that the IRS must abide by in its dealings with you. Taxact Our tax toolkit at www. Taxact TaxpayerAdvocate. Taxact irs. Taxact gov can help you understand these rights. Taxact 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. Taxact irs. Taxact gov/advocate. Taxact You can also call our toll-free number at 1-877-777-4778 or TTY/TDD 1-800-829-4059. Taxact TAS also handles large-scale or systemic problems that affect many taxpayers. Taxact If you know of one of these broad issues, please report it to us through our Systemic Advocacy Management System at www. Taxact irs. Taxact gov/advocate. Taxact Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs). Taxact Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) are independent from the IRS. Taxact Some clinics serve individuals whose income is below a certain level and who need to resolve a tax problem. Taxact 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. Taxact Some clinics can provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in many different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language. Taxact For more information and to find a clinic near you, see the LITC page on www. Taxact irs. Taxact gov/advocate or IRS Publication 4134, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List. Taxact This publication is also available by calling 1-800-829-3676 or at your local IRS office. Taxact Free tax services. Taxact Publication 910, IRS Guide to Free Tax Services, is your guide to IRS services and resources. Taxact Learn about free tax information from the IRS, including publications, services, and education and assistance programs. Taxact The publication also has an index of over 100 TeleTax topics (recorded tax information) you can listen to on the telephone. Taxact The majority of the information and services listed in this publication are available to you free of charge. Taxact If there is a fee associated with a resource or service, it is listed in the publication. Taxact Accessible versions of IRS published products are available on request in a variety of alternative formats for people with disabilities. Taxact DVD for tax products. Taxact You can order Publication 1796, IRS Tax Products DVD, and obtain: Current-year forms, instructions, and publications. Taxact Prior-year forms, instructions, and publications. Taxact Tax Map: an electronic research tool and finding aid. Taxact Tax law frequently asked questions. Taxact Tax Topics from the IRS telephone response system. Taxact Internal Revenue Code—Title 26 of the U. Taxact S. Taxact Code. Taxact Links to other Internet based Tax Research Materials. Taxact Fill-in, print, and save features for most tax forms. Taxact Internal Revenue Bulletins. Taxact Toll-free and email technical support. Taxact Two releases during the year. Taxact – The first release will ship the beginning of January. Taxact – The final release will ship the beginning of March. Taxact Purchase the DVD from National Technical Information Service (NTIS) at www. Taxact irs. Taxact 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). Taxact Prev Up Next Home More Online Publications
Savings and Checking Accounts
Choose the Account That Is Best for You
When it comes to finding a safe place to put your money, there are a lot of options. Savings accounts, checking accounts, certificates of deposit and money market accounts are popular choices. Each has different rules and benefits that fit different needs. When choosing the one that is right for you, consider:
- Minimum deposit requirements- Some accounts can only be set up with a minimum dollar amount. If your account goes below the minimum the bank may not pay you interest on the money you deposited and you may be charged extra fees.
- Limits on withdrawals- Can you take money out whenever you want? Are there any penalties for doing so?
- Interest- How much (if anything) is paid and when: Daily, monthly, quarterly, yearly? To compare rates offered locally to those from financial institutions around the nation, visit bankrate.com
- Deposit insurance- Make sure your bank is a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. This organization protects the money in your checking and savings accounts, certificates of deposit and IRA accounts up to $250,000.
- Credit unions- A credit union is a nonprofit, cooperative financial institution owned and run by its members. Like the FDIC does for banks, the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUIF) insures a person's savings up to $250,000.
- Convenience- How easy is it to put money in and take it out? Are there tellers or ATM machines close to where you work and live? Or would you receive most of your service via the telephone or Internet?
If you are considering a checking account or another type of account with check-writing privileges, add these items to your list of things to think about:
- Number of checks- Is there a maximum number of checks you can write per month without incurring a charge?
- Check fees- Is there a monthly fee for the account or a charge for each check you write?
- Holds on checks- Is there a waiting period for checks to clear before you can withdraw the money from your account?
- Overdrafts- If you write a check for more money than you have in your account, what happens? You may be able to link your checking account to a savings account to protect yourself.
- Debit card fees- Are there fees for using your debit card?
- strong>Account fees- Banks can charge fees on your checking or savings account to cover things like maintenance, withdrawals, or minimum balance rules. However, the bank must inform you of the fees up front as part of your account agreement and notify you when changes occur. Practices vary from bank to bank, but each must inform you of the fee change on your statement, in a separate letter, or in a pamphlet. The Federal Reserve has more information about account fees.
- Bounced checks- It’s your responsibility to have sufficient funds in your account to cover the checks you write. If you try to cash a check, withdraw money, or use your debit card for an amount greater than the amount of money in your account, you can face a bounced check or overdraft fee. Your bank may pay for the item, but charge you a fee or deny the purchase and still charge you a fee. In addition, the business to which you wrote the check may charge you an additional returned check fee. Bounced checks can also blemish your credit record, so you may want to talk to your bank about overdraft protection. For more information, contact the Federal Reserve.