In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the IRS is now allowing digital and e-mail signatures on some tax documents. This measure is designed to make it easier for both tax professionals and individual taxpayers to communicate with the IRS and file the necessary documents for their 2019 tax returns.
According to Tax Pro Today, the documents eligible for e-signatures include agreements to specific tax matters or tax liabilities such as closing agreements, waivers of statutory notices of deficiency as well as consents to assessment, and all other forms that require taxpayer or representative signature that is routinely collected by IRS employees outside of standard filing procedures. The new policy went into effect on April 6, 2020 and will remain active until further notice.
Both digital signatures and scanned/photographed signatures that are sent over email are being accepted on “documents related to the determination or collection of tax liability,” according to the IRS. Similarly, the IRS is allowing all of its agents to accept and transmit documents over email using programs like SecureZip and other encrypted messaging systems. This is due to the rise of the work-from-home movement which has impacted many IRS staff as well as the stay-at-home orders that are active in many states.
In order to successfully submit a signature over email, the tax professional or taxpayer in question must include a cover letter or statement within the body of the email that declares that “The attached [name of document] includes [name of taxpayer]’s valid signature and the taxpayer intends to transmit the attached document to the IRS.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic develops, the IRS is continuing to update its policies to ease the burden on taxpayers, including extending the 2019 filing deadline to July 15, 2020, extending the deadline to file health coverage statements, and allowing companies to deduct paid leave tax credits from their normal payroll tax contributions. To submit feedback regarding the IRS’s policy updates and customer service, please visit their website at irs.gov.