Tax News
Power of Attorney Form Update

The Power of Attorney (POA), Form 3520, is one of the first pieces of information that may be requested from you when you call our practitioner hotline. Questions about when one is needed and what it can be used for are frequently asked by practitioners trying to do their best to represent their clients. Although there are many reasons the practitioner needs a POA form signed by the client, the most common are to do the following:

  • Receive confidential tax information.
  • Receive information for the nontax programs we administer.
  • Represent a taxpayer/debtor or business entity before us.
  • Sign the client's tax return (which is allowed only in very limited circumstances)
  • Receive, but not endorse or cash checks we send to the client

While these reasons seem fairly straight forward, there are limited instances when we may be able work with a caller without requiring a POA form. A POA form is not required when you are simply furnishing requested information to us. We may be able to discuss a tax issue in a limited manner with a caller who has notices or documents that we sent to the taxpayer. In addition, the caller must also have the taxpayer’s social security number, address or other information and answer our security and disclosure questions. Discussing any matters is at the discretion of the line agent, meaning they can still ask the caller for the POA form. In addition, without a valid POA form, any written information or confirmation of corrections on an account can only be mailed directly to the taxpayer/debtor. No written information can be provided to a representative without a Power of Attorney form or FTB 3518, One-Time Release of Confidential Tax Information.

A valid POA form allows us to discuss confidential tax matters with a representative. The POA form also is designed to allow the client to limit the scope of tasks and tax years that a representative may discuss with us on their behalf. It is important to discuss with your clients exactly which years and tax matters they want you to handle on their behalves before signing the POA form and sending it in. In addition, while the current POA form has a box to check if the representative wants to receive copies of notices, unfortunately, not all of our many systems are capable of automatically sending a copy of the notice to you.

We’ve heard many comments from practitioners about the POA form and how it could be changed for the better. At a time when we are currently undertaking a massive system upgrade, Enterprise Data to Revenue, we decided to do a substantial overhaul to the POA form as well. This new POA form will include greatly enhanced instructions and the ability for the taxpayer to designate the practitioner to handle all open tax years. We hope to have it ready to roll out by the end of the year.

Back to August 2012 Tax News