The Taxpayer Advocate Service announced in a recent report that it has to focus on high-impact tax issues because it simply doesn't have the manpower to help all of the millions of taxpayers who have tax problems at any given time. This sounds like a wake-up call to tax preparers. As the IRS beefs up its correspondence audit process, sending many more notices than in years past, it's likely some of your clients are seeing an uptick in letters from the IRS. Take this opportunity to communicate with your clients what your role is in helping them with notices about their tax returns and issues.
Instead of waiting to hear from your clients (some of whom, trust me, refuse to open IRS notices, applying the theory that what they don't know can't hurt them), you can make sure you're copied on notices. Use Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization, to be copied on your client's notices from the IRS. And make sure you have a Power of Attorney on file if you are addressing tax issues on behalf of your clients.