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IRS temporarily accepts e-signatures, AICPA urges further relief

By Isabella Colletta


The US’ Internal Revenue Service (IRS)  are temporarily accepting scanned or digital signatures on certain tax forms, and will allow some documents to be shared through email. This relief is to accommodate the remote working environments caused by the pandemic.

In a memorandum issued on 12 June, the IRS extended the guidance expiration date from 15 July to the end of 2020. Whilst this memorandum assured some relief from ‘wet’ signatures, they have faced criticism for not including documents associated with return filings or extensions.

In response, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) submitted a letter asking the IRS to expand the scope of its 12 June memo and include all electronic file signature authorisation forms and non-income tax returns, including paper-filed returns.

The IRS issued a further memo on 27 August which confirmed a temporary deviation from the requirement for hand written signatures on a limited number of tax forms. In the US, 11 states have provided guidance allowing for greater e-signature use on tax returns, in light of the pandemic.

AICPA vice president of taxation Edward Karl applauded the IRS’ recent expansion regarding e-signatures, and encouraged them to extend their relief further. He said: “We greatly appreciate the IRS’s decision to expand the scope of their e-signature requirements. By expanding the scope of relief beyond collection activities, the IRS is lessening the burden on taxpayers and tax practitioners in a significant way. The steps taken by the Service helps the nation navigate difficult circumstances. We encourage the IRS to continue to work to make this relief permanent.”

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