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How to Conduct a Transcript Investigation

An African American Female Enrolled Agent with glasses and an orange blazer with white blouse sitting at a desk looking over tax forms.

Congratulations! A client has retained you to represent them before the IRS. Well, if you are one of my mentees you know that means you're in the first step of representation. You have already received a signed and dated 2848, engagement letter, and paid invoice. If you haven't, go check out my article on the tax representation workflow.

The first phase of tax relief is easy if you know how to do it I noticed that quite a few of you are getting stuck here. You don't know how to complete a transcript investigation.

With the IRS technology advances some of you want to skip the part where you get on the phone with an IRS agent. In some situations, it is not necessary. But in most, you will still need to speak with someone to get the transcripts. So let's take it from the beginning after you sign the 2848 and scan it back into your system.

1 - Submit the 2848 to the CAF Unit

If you have an IRS tax pro account you can do this online. You can submit the form OR if your client also has an IRS account you can request their authorization online. If you do the latter you will still need their personal information found on the 2848 to input on the site. Once requested, they have to authorize you within 24 hours. You will have access to their account immediately.

If you upload the form you and the taxpayer must sign and date it. Then you can upload it to the IRS site. It is a simple process. I have been able to get access to my client's account within 24 hours using this method. But I am waiting on a client whose form I uploaded over 2 weeks ago.

If you do not have a tax pro account you have to fax the 2848 to the CAF unit. You can find the appropriate fax number in the 2848 instructions. If you do not have a CAF number you will not be able to use the tax pro account to receive authorization, so you will have to fax it. The way to get a CAF number is to submit an 8821 or a 2848. If you're still unsure on how to fill out a 2848 check out the podcast episode I did on it in the Tax Pro's Representation Journey.

2 - Do a compliance check for all transcript investigations

Even if you have the transcripts without getting on the phone I recommend doing a compliance check. The revenue agent can see notes on the account that the transcripts don't have. For example, it's 2024 and I have a client who filed their 2011 tax return on time in 2012. But they have the CSED as 2024. The transcripts show no tolling events, however, there was a note on the account that tells what extended their CSED. I would not know that if I had not called because it does not show on the transcript.

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