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Right to Retain Representation

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Alisson Ward

Tax Professional | Content Writer

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What is My ‘Right to Retain Representation?’

Right to Retain Representation

Taxpayers are entitled to hiring their own authorized representative to act on their behalf when they communicate with the IRS.  If a taxpayer cannot afford legal representation, they have the right to seek aid from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic. This allows taxpayers to obtain expert advice, guidance, and representation to navigate complex tax laws and ensure their interests are protected.

Communications between taxpayers and their authorized representatives are generally protected by attorney-client privilege or other legal privileges, ensuring confidentiality and promoting open and honest discussions.

Quick Fact

You have the right to engage or disengage the services of a representative at any time during the tax process. This provides flexibility and allows taxpayers to choose the representation that best suits their needs.

1. Understanding Your Right

  • What It Is: The right to retain representation allows taxpayers to appoint qualified professionals to represent them in all dealings with the IRS.
  • Why It Matters: This right ensures that taxpayers can receive expert guidance and support, enhancing their ability to effectively navigate complex tax issues.

2. Types of Representatives

  • Attorneys: Licensed lawyers who specialize in tax law can represent taxpayers in all IRS matters, including litigation.
  • Certified Public Accountants (CPAs): CPAs are licensed professionals who provide a range of accounting and tax services.
  • Enrolled Agents (EAs): EAs are federally-authorized tax practitioners who can represent taxpayers before the IRS.

3. Scope of Representation

  • Audits: Representatives can assist taxpayers during IRS audits by communicating with the IRS, preparing necessary documents, and providing expert advice.
  • Appeals: If a taxpayer disagrees with an IRS decision, their representative can help file an appeal and represent them in discussions with the IRS Appeals Office.
  • Collections: Representatives can negotiate payment plans, offers in compromise, and other collection alternatives on behalf of taxpayers.
  • Other Interactions: Representatives can assist with tax return preparation, responding to IRS notices, and other tax-related matters.

4. Power of Attorney

  • Form 2848: To officially appoint a representative, taxpayers must complete and submit IRS Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative.
  • Authorization: This form authorizes the representative to act on the taxpayer’s behalf, including receiving confidential information and making decisions.
  • Revocation: Taxpayers can revoke or change their representative at any time by submitting a new Form 2848 or a written statement to the IRS.

5. Benefits of Representation

  • Expertise: Representatives have specialized knowledge and experience in tax matters, ensuring that taxpayers receive accurate and effective advice.
  • Stress Reduction: Dealing with the IRS can be stressful. Having a representative can alleviate some of the burden and provide peace of mind.
  • Accurate Communication: Representatives can ensure that all communications with the IRS are clear, accurate, and timely, helping to avoid misunderstandings and errors.

Practical Tips

  • Choose Wisely: Select a representative with the appropriate qualifications and experience for your specific tax issue.
  • Stay Informed: Even with a representative, it’s important to stay informed about your tax matters and understand the actions being taken on your behalf.
  • Maintain Communication: Keep open lines of communication with your representative to ensure they have all the necessary information and documentation.

What to Expect

  1. You can choose someone to represent you at a meeting with the IRS, such as an attorney, certified public accountant, or enrolled agent. Unless the IRS issues a formal summons to your appearance, you are not required to attend with your representative.
  2. If you ask to consult with a representative, such as an attorney, CPA, or enrolled agent, the IRS may typically suspend an interview.
  3. Any individual authorized to represent taxpayers before the IRS, such as an attorney, CPA, enrolled agent, or enrolled actuary, may do so by submitting a written power of attorney on your behalf. The person cannot have their profession prohibited or suspended before the IRS.
  4. You may contact a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic to represent you in a tax dispute with the IRS or in court if your income is below a specified level. Services are provided for no cost or at a low cost. In addition to English, several LITCs provide services in additional languages. Despite receiving a portion of their financing from the IRS, LITCs, their staff, and their volunteers are unaffiliated with the agency.


If you or someone you know needs help on looking for a representative when dealing with the IRS, seek professional help. Call Priority Tax Relief for a FREE consultation at 800-493-8308.

Frequently Asked Questions:

A Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) is a program established by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to provide free or low-cost legal assistance and representation to taxpayers who have limited income and are experiencing tax-related issues. 

LITCs provide guidance on tax issues, help taxpayers resolve disputes with the IRS, negotiate installment agreements, and pursue appeals or settlement options. They can also educate taxpayers about their rights, responsibilities, and available tax credits or deductions.

The right to counsel guarantees that a defendant in a criminal prosecution has the sixth amendment right to receive effective assistance of counsel for their constitutional right to a fair trial.

Yes, a criminal defendant has the right to retain counsel for his defense and can choose their own legal representation unless there is a conflict of interest that prevents it.

By waving their right to counsel, individuals may be waving their right to effective legal representation and adequate representation during criminal trials or other legal proceedings.

A defendant must knowingly and voluntarily waive their right to counsel, usually with a full understanding of the consequences, before proceeding with legal representation.

Yes, the constitution annotated includes provisions for the appointment of counsel to ensure individuals have adequate representation during a criminal trial.

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