Learning how to use the IRS’s e‑Services tools can greatly improve practitioners efficiency. Looking back on the busy tax season that just ended, some practitioners are spending too much time on the phone with the IRS. They’re needlessly navigating the phone lines to find the right person to help with what is often a small matter. Fortunately, learning how to maximize the full range of the IRS’s e‑Services tools can greatly improve efficiency. The rate of e‑Services usage among practitioners is increasing as tax professionals learn more about the system. From 2011 to 2012, practitioners filed 17% more authorization forms and requested 33% more transcripts via e‑Services. The IRS has continually expanded e‑Services to enable practitioners to use three e‑Services products:

1.  Disclosure Authorization (DA), which allows practitioners to file Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, and Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization.

2. Transcript Delivery System (TDS), which allows practitioners to obtain any of the five types of IRS transcripts.

3.  Electronic Account Resolution (EAR), which allows practitioners to make inquiries and resolve client account‑related issues. EAR inquiries are answered by the same IRS customer service representatives who handle Practitioner Priority Service (PPS) calls, but without the wait times. EAR also offers the ability to work with one PPS representative to resolve a client account issue. However, you can’t use EAR to resolve compliance issues, such as audits, appeals, and collection matters.

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According to IRS Publication 3, Armed Forces’ Tax Guide, the Armed Forces Tax Council (AFTC) oversees the military tax programs offered worldwide. AFTC partners with the IRS to conduct outreach to military personnel and their families. This includes the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

Military-based Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites staffed with IRS-trained volunteers provide free tax help and tax return preparation. Volunteers receive training on military tax issues, such as combat zone tax benefits, filing extensions and special benefits that apply to the Earned Income Tax Credit. To receive free tax assistance, bring the following records to your military VITA site:

•  Valid photo identification

•  Social Security cards for you, your spouse and dependents, or a Social Security number verification letter issued by the Social Security Administration

•  Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents

•  Wage and earning statement(s), such as Forms W-2, W-2G, and 1099-R

•  Interest and dividend statements (Forms 1099)

•  A copy of last year’s federal and state tax returns, if available

•  Checkbook for routing and account numbers for direct deposit of your tax refund

•  Total amount paid for day care and day care provider’s identifying number. This is usually an Employer Identification Number or Social Security number.

Other relevant information about income and expenses

If you are married filing a joint return and wish to file electronically, both you and your spouse should be present to sign the required forms. If both cannot be present, you usually must bring a valid power of attorney form along with you. You may use IRS Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative for this purpose.

There is a special exception to this rule if your spouse is in a Combat Zone. The exception allows a spouse to prepare and e-file a joint return with a written statement stating the other spouse is in a combat zone and unable to sign. Also be sure to check out:

•  Tax Information for Members of the Military

•  Special Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Rules for the Military