- Written by Raul O. Serrano, Jr.
It is hard to believe that in a fast pace world run by computers, where seconds are considered slow, that we still would not be able to get taxpayers’ records from the IRS in a timely manner. We all have experienced the long hold on telephone calls before an IRS employee actually answers the line, or the 45 days or more turn-around time on responses. But, that is no longer the case. Finally, the IRS has made available e-service products through their website, which makes getting taxpayers’ transcripts, answer notices and complex problem resolutions with the touch of the keyboard.
In order to use the e-service program, you must first register with the IRS and provide taxpayer information. The application process is started from the e-services home page. You should complete all applicable portions of the online form and submit it to the IRS for processing. Once the information is verified by using IRS taxpayer records, you will be asked to create a username and password.
The registration is not difficult, and once verified, you will enjoy the benefits of getting taxpayers’ records and solving IRS problems a lot quicker than the alternative.
What is E-Service?
E-Service is designed to make it easier for individuals or organizations, who use or process IRS data, to conduct business with the IRS. The E-Service Program allows you to perform tasks using the Internet that previously had to be done through correspondence or over the telephone.
Who can use the e-service?
All tax professionals are eligible to use the e-services for registration and online e-file application. In addition, if you are an Electronic Return Originator (ERO), which most of us are, and if you file 5 or more accepted returns, you can use the most useful products, such as:
1. Disclosure Authorization (DA);
2. Electronic Account Resolution (EAR);
3. Transcript Delivery System (TDS).
NOTE: Effective as of November 1, 2007, all Circular 230 practitioners who qualify as Attorneys, CPAs or Enrolled Agents, have unlimited access to the incentive products listed above whether they e-file their clients returns or not.
Disclosure Authorization (DA) is an e-service product that allows you to complete a taxpayer’s authorization to inspect and receive confidential tax data and/or represent the taxpayer before the IRS. The DA allows you to submit the complete authorization to the IRS using the Internet. You are required to get a completed and executed Form 2848 or Form 8821, Taxpayer Information Authorization, if applicable, and keep same in the client’s file. Also, you need the taxpayer’s information, such as date of birth and prior year’s adjusted gross income.
Electronic Account Resolution (EAR) is an online service for practitioners to initiate an inquiry about a tax account for which they have an unmodified Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Third Party Representative, recorded on the Centralized Authorization File (CAF). This includes those entered through the e-service Disclosure Authorization Product.
The following types of account inquiries are available thru EAR:
1. Account Problems Inquiry allows a third-party to submit an inquiry related to an account problem.
2. Complex Inquiry allows a third-party to submit an inquiry related to refunds returned as undeliverable, destroyed refund repayments, erroneous refunds, and refund offsets.
3. Notice of Inquiry allows a third-party to submit an inquiry related to an IRS notice received through the mail. EXCEPTION: CP-2000 inquiries cannot be submitted using EAR.
4. Installment Agreement Inquiry allows a third-party to submit an inquiry related to a taxpayer’s installment agreement with the IRS.
5. Payment Tracer Inquiry allows a third-party to request the trace of a missing or misapplied payment.
6. Multiple Inquiries allow a third-party to complete and submit multiple inquiry forms for the same taxpayer.
7. Follow-up Inquiry allows a third-party to submit additional information on a previously submitted inquiry.
Also, with any of the above submissions, you will be provided with an EAR Tracking Number in the acknowledgment page at the end of the inquiry. A tracking number is good for 21 days after the response is placed in the Secure Object Repository (SOR). You can use this tracking number to check on your inquiry. It has been my experience that the responses are within 3 to 5 business days of the submission.
Transcript Delivery Systems (TDS) allows authorized users to request federal tax information from the IRS records on behalf of their taxpayer clients. You can request account transcripts on 1040s, 1120s, civil penalties, wage and income transcripts, and others.
All of the transcripts are available immediately upon successful login.
My office has used the E-Service Program and finds the electronic account resolution very helpful. Although there is no guarantee that every problem will be solved, the response time of 3 to 5 business days from the submission is by far a lot better than the 45-day waiting period. Further, being able to obtain the IRS transcripts immediately upon login is invaluable.
If you should want more information, please log onto www.irs.gov and go to tax professionals and then e-services for tax pros.
Raul O. Serrano, Jr., practices representation before the IRS on tax controversies and is a frequent speaker on the subject. Mr. Serrano is presently Vice-Chair of the FICPA’s Federal Taxation Committee. He is a Past President of the FICPA’s Gold Coast Chapter and moderates a monthly tax roundtable on behalf of the Chapter. He was previously featured as one of the top 50 IRS Representation Practitioners by CPA Magazine.