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IRS Releases Fact Sheet on Acceptable Electronic Signatures

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released a fact sheet, providing guidance on acceptable methods for taxpayers to electronically or digitally sign certain paper forms that they cannot file electronically. In order to provide taxpayers with greater flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS previously announced taxpayers may use digital signatures for certain forms through the end of 2021. The newly released fact sheet is the first guidance as to what constitutes an acceptable electronic signature.

The fact sheet notes that the IRS is balancing the flexibility of electronic signatures with security and fraud protections. Electronic signatures accepted by the IRS include:

  • A name typed on a signature block

  • A scanned or digitized image of a handwritten signature that is attached to an electronic record

  • A handwritten signature input onto an electronic signature pad

  • A handwritten signature, mark or command input on a display screen with a stylus device

  • A signature created by a third-party software

Additionally, the IRS will accept images of electronic signatures provided the image is a file type supported by Microsoft Office, such as .jpg, .pdf and .tiff.

The fact sheet provides a list of paper-filed forms—which cannot be e-filed—where a taxpayer may use an electronic signature:

  • Form 11-C, Occupational Tax and Registration Return for Wagering;

  • Form 637, Application for Registration (For Certain Excise Tax Activities);

  • Form 706, U.S. Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return;

  • Form 706-A, U.S. Additional Estate Tax Return;

  • Form 706-GS(D), Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Return for Distributions;

  • Form 706-GS(D-1), Notification of Distribution from a Generation-Skipping Trust;

  • Form 706-GS(T), Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Return for Terminations;

  • Form 706-QDT, U.S. Estate Tax Return for Qualified Domestic Trusts;

  • Form 706 Schedule R-1, Generation Skipping Transfer Tax;

  • Form 706-NA, U.S. Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return;

  • Form 709, U.S. Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return;

  • Form 730, Monthly Tax Return for Wagers;

  • Form 1066, U.S. Income Tax Return for Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduit;

  • Form 1120-C, U.S. Income Tax Return for Cooperative Associations;

  • Form 1120-FSC, U.S. Income Tax Return of a Foreign Sales Corporation;

  • Form 1120-H, U.S. Income Tax Return for Homeowners Associations;

  • Form 1120-IC DISC, Interest Charge Domestic International Sales – Corporation Return;

  • Form 1120-L, U.S. Life Insurance Company Income Tax Return;

  • Form 1120-ND, Return for Nuclear Decommissioning Funds and Certain Related Persons;

  • Form 1120-PC, U.S. Property and Casualty Insurance Company Income Tax Return;

  • Form 1120-REIT, U.S. Income Tax Return for Real Estate Investment Trusts;

  • Form 1120-RIC, U.S. Income Tax Return for Regulated Investment Companies;

  • Form 1120-SF, U.S. Income Tax Return for Settlement Funds (Under Section 468B);

  • Form 1127, Application for Extension of Time for Payment of Tax Due to Undue Hardship;

  • Form 1128, Application to Adopt, Change or Retain a Tax Year;

  • Form 2678, Employer/Payer Appointment of Agent;

  • Form 3115, Application for Change in Accounting Method;

  • Form 3520, Annual Return To Report Transactions With Foreign Trusts and Receipt of Certain Foreign Gifts;

  • Form 3520-A, Annual Information Return of Foreign Trust With a U.S. Owner;

  • Form 4421, Declaration – Executor’s Commissions and Attorney’s Fees;

  • Form 4768, Application for Extension of Time to File a Return and/or Pay U.S. Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Taxes;

  • Form 8038, Information Return for Tax-Exempt Private Activity Bond Issues;

  • Form 8038-G, Information Return for Tax-Exempt Governmental Bonds;

  • Form 8038-GC; Information Return for Small Tax-Exempt Governmental Bond Issues, Leases, and Installment Sales;

  • Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions;

  • Form 8453 series, Form 8878 series, and Form 8879 series regarding IRS e-file Signature Authorization Forms;

  • Form 8802, Application for U.S. Residency Certification;

  • Form 8832, Entity Classification Election;

  • Form 8971, Information Regarding Beneficiaries Acquiring Property from a Decedent;

  • Form 8973, Certified Professional Employer Organization/Customer Reporting Agreement; and

  • Elections made per Internal Revenue Code Section 83(b).

Practice Point: The IRS’s flexible approach to electronic signatures provides considerable convenience for taxpayers dealing with ongoing disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is uncertain whether this flexibility will continue into 2022 so taxpayers should monitor future announcements regarding electronic signatures.

© 2021 McDermott Will & EmeryNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 252
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About this Author

Andrew R. Roberson tax attorney McDermott Will. Andy handles tax cases in Federal court, United States Tax Court
Partner

Andrew R. Roberson is a partner in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP and is based in the Firm’s Chicago office.  Andy specializes in tax controversy and litigation matters, and has been involved in over 30 matters at all levels of the Federal court system, including the United States Tax Court, several US Courts of Appeal and the Supreme Court. 

Andy also represents clients, including participants in the CAP program, before the Internal Revenue Service Examination Division and Appeals Office, and has been successful in settling...

312-984-2732
Kevin Spencer, McDermott Will & Emery LLP , Tax Litigation Attorney
Partner

Kevin Spencer focuses his practice on tax controversy issues. Kevin represents clients in complicated tax disputes in court and before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at the IRS Appeals and Examination divisions.

 

In addition to his tax controversy practice, Kevin has broad experience advising clients on various tax issues, including tax accounting, employment and reasonable compensation, civil and criminal tax penalties, IRS procedures, reportable transactions and tax shelters, renewable energy, state and local tax, and private client matters. After earning his Master of...

202-756-8203
Brian Moore Associate Washington, DC Tax  Federal Taxation  State & Local Tax  Tax Structuring
Associate

Brian Moore focuses his practice on US and international tax matters. While in law school, Brian served as an AmeriCorps JD Veterans Legal Assistance Intern for Legal Assistance of Western New York and he was an articles editor for the Yale Law and Policy Review. Prior to attending law school, he served as a research assistant for the White House Council of Economic Advisors where he assisted the chairman and members of the council in advising the president on tax policy and other public finance matters. Additionally, he was a research analyst for a global think tank and a research...

202-756-8246
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