A CAF number, or Centralized Authorization File number, is a unique identifier assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This number is used to keep track of authorizations and power of attorney documents submitted by taxpayers and preparers.
The CAF number is an important aspect of the IRS’s centralized authorization process, which allows taxpayers to grant third-party individuals or organizations the authority to access their tax information or represent them in front of the IRS. Without a CAF number, the IRS would not be able to keep track of these authorizations, which could lead to confusion and potential errors.
What is a CAF Number?
A CAF number, or Centralized Authorization File number, is a unique identification number assigned by the IRS to tax professionals or individuals who are authorized to represent taxpayers in tax-related matters. The CAF number is a nine-digit number that is used to identify the tax professional or individual who has the authority to access taxpayer information.
The purpose of the CAF number is to provide a secure and efficient way for tax professionals and individuals to access taxpayer information. The IRS requires that anyone who represents taxpayers in tax-related matters must have a CAF number. This ensures that only authorized individuals have access to sensitive taxpayer information.
How to Obtain a CAF Number
To obtain a CAF number, tax professionals or individuals must complete and submit Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, to the IRS. This form authorizes the tax professional or individual to represent the taxpayer.
It’s important to note that the CAF number is not a substitute for a Social Security number or an Employer Identification Number. It is a separate identification number that is used specifically for tax-related matters.
CAF Number vs TIN
What is a TIN?
A Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) is a unique identification number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to taxpayers, including individuals and businesses. TINs are used by the IRS to track tax returns, payments, and refunds. There are several types of TINs, including Social Security Numbers (SSNs) for individuals and Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) for businesses.
Difference Between CAF Number and TIN
A CAF Number, or Centralized Authorization File Number, is a unique identification number assigned by the IRS to authorized representatives of taxpayers. Authorized representatives include tax professionals, attorneys, and accountants who have been granted the authority by taxpayers to act on their behalf.
While both a CAF Number and TIN are unique identification numbers assigned by the IRS, they serve different purposes. A TIN is used to identify the taxpayer, while a CAF Number is used to identify the authorized representative.
CAF Number for Tax Professionals
PTIN vs CAF Number
The Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) is a unique identification number that is assigned to tax professionals who prepare tax returns for compensation. The CAF number, on the other hand, is an authorization number that is used by the IRS to authorize tax professionals to access taxpayer information.
Form 2848 vs Form 8821
Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, is used to authorize a tax professional to represent a taxpayer before the IRS. This form is used when the tax professional needs to act on behalf of the taxpayer in matters relating to tax returns, payment, and other tax-related issues. Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization, is used to authorize a tax professional to receive and inspect confidential tax information of the taxpayer. This form is used when the tax professional needs to access the taxpayer’s tax information for research or other purposes.
Centralized Authorization File (CAF) for Tax Professionals
The CAF is a database maintained by the IRS that contains information on authorized tax professionals and their clients. The CAF number is a unique identification number assigned to each authorized tax professional. The CAF number is used by the IRS to track the tax professional’s authorization to access taxpayer information.
The CAF system allows tax professionals to submit authorization forms electronically, which makes the process faster and more efficient (Ha!, you may be laughing at this also). The CAF system also allows tax professionals to view their clients’ transcripts online, which reduces the need for paper copies.
In order to obtain a CAF number, tax professionals must submit a completed Form 2848 or Form 8821 to the IRS. If this is the first time, the IRS will assign a CAF number to the tax professional, which will be used to track their authorization to access taxpayer information.
For more information on the CAF system and the use of authorization forms, see Publication 947, Practice Before the IRS and Power of Attorney.
Third Party Authorization
In some cases, a taxpayer may authorize a third party, such as a spouse or business partner, to act on their behalf before the IRS. To do this, the taxpayer must file a Third Party Authorization (Form 8821) with the agency.
If a third party is authorized to act on your behalf, they must include their own CAF number on any forms they file with the IRS. This allows the agency to link their authorization to your taxpayer account and ensure that they have the necessary access to your tax information.
In conclusion, understanding how to use a CAF number is an important part of working with a tax professional to represent you before the IRS. By ensuring that your representative has the necessary authorization and including their CAF number on any forms they file with the agency, you can help ensure that your tax matters are handled appropriately and efficiently.