What is the Checkbox Designee on Form 1040?

At the bottom of most recent 1040 tax returns, you will find the following question: Do you want to allow another person to discuss this return with the IRS?
If you check the box as ‘yes,’ you are asked to provide the third party’s name and telephone number. In addition, they must create a 5-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN). This PIN would be used if the individual were to call the IRS. An IRS representative would verify the identity of the third party by asking them to verify their PIN.

What authorization does this ‘checkbox designee’ have, and who can be authorized as your third party?
The 1040 instructions indicate that this person can be a preparer, friend, family or other person. In other words, you have the latitude here to elect anyone of your choice that you would potentially like to have correspond with the IRS about that specific tax return.
The checkbox designee would be available to discuss any issues that may arise with the processing of your tax return. For example, if line items were incomplete or certain required schedules were missing, the designee can answer questions for you if the IRS were to contact them. They can also call the IRS on your behalf.

The designee can also call the IRS to check on the status of the return or a refund. If a payment was made to the IRS, they can inquire as to the application of that payment.
If a copy of a tax return is needed, or if a transcript of information on the return is required, the designee can ask for this and request that it be mailed to them. A common example of a transcript request would be if information is needed off of the return for a student loan application, or for verification of income for a mortgage loan.

If an IRS notice is sent to a taxpayer, the designee can respond. Their scope of authorization is limited to notices that relate to the processing of the return itself.

If a math error is discovered on your return during submission processing, this could reduce your refund or even create a balance owing. A common math error is transposing a few digits on the Social Security number of your dependent(s). When this happens, not only is the total tax exemption amount reduced, but any credits related to the dependent, such as the Child Tax Credit or Earned Income Tax Credit, are also eliminated. Your designee can call the IRS with the correct number and a change can be made over the phone.

If your refund was applied to another IRS debt, a state tax agency, or for unpaid child support or delinquent student loans, your designee can contact the IRS to find out the status of the offset.
The designee cannot receive your tax refund, nor can they represent you in any formal capacity as would a CPA, attorney, enrolled agent, or any other individual that would serve as your Power of Attorney. Such individuals must authorize themselves via Form 2848, which is then signed by the taxpayer.

The third party checkbox authorization also expires one year after the due date of the current year tax return. If you need to revoke the authorization earlier, you can do so in writing. See IRS Publication 947, Practice Before the IRS and Power of Attorney, for more information on how to do this.