A third-party designee is someone you authorize the IRS to discuss your tax return with. Though this authorization is rare, the IRS outlines its purpose in "Topic 312 - Disclosure Authorizations." The authorization is mainly intended for someone who has challenges communicating directly with the IRS about questions or concerns.
The third-party designee status only allows the authorized person to discuss general information about your tax return with the IRS. If you want to grant greater authority to the representative, you can use Form 8821. This form is used to designate someone to represent you before the IRS, such as in the event of an audit or formal inquiry. The IRS does sometimes accept telephone authorization as opposed to written designation on your tax return.
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