In June of 2019, the House passed, the Senate approved, and President Trump signed into law the "Taxpayer First Act". Buried in Title II, Section 2202, Subtitle D is a section called "21st Century IRS: Expanded Use of Electronic Systems", which focuses on the use of electronic signatures.
Since March of 2014, the IRS has allowed e-signatures on Form 8879, which is the form taxpayers sign authorizing their accountant to e-file their return. However, the IRS did not allow signatures on other documents, the most commonly used of which was the IRS Power of Attorney, Form 2848. In many circumstances, this slowed down the already menacing process of working with the IRS on the client's behalf, leading to further delays of getting problems resolved.
While we are glad to see the IRS catching up with technology and making it easier for our clients to do business with this agency, the change is not without some headaches. One of the caveats of electronic signatures that has always been around is the requirement for Knowledge-Based Authentication (or KBA). You've probably seen it --you to go a website requesting sensitive data and they present a multiple-choice question asking you which bank you have your car loan at, or who your mortgage is with, where you lived 30 years ago, or some other form of personal information that makes it seem like Big Brother is watching. This is KBA and the IRS has always wanted CPAs and Tax Preparers to use the same technology when getting electronic signatures on Form 8879 (see their Handbook under Publication 1345).
We use a third party vendor (Citrix) with world-class security measures to protect this data.
We get it.
However, we also want to make sure we always hold ourselves to the highest level of security when handling your tax returns, power of attorneys, or any other sensitive information and therefore we take these guidelines seriously. We wouldn't want someone forging a signature on your behalf, especially with documents as important as these.
We've taken the time to explore our options, invest in technology, and dedicate real, live people who can help if you're struggling. Linda Whiting from our office (who many of you have, or will have, the pleasure of interacting with when tax forms are processed) is heading up this process and is always available to help walk you through an e-signature to make sure you can get us the info we need and carry on with your day.
We hope at the end of the day this makes your life easier. No more printing a document, signing, and scanning or faxing it back. Just get an email right to your computer, phone or tablet, answer a few questions and sign away. You’ll automatically get a PDF copy and so will we, which we can use to serve you better.
With that, see below for a quick picture-tutorial of what you can expect when electronically signing documents.
Initial Note: You will be locked out of the document after 3 failed attempts:
You'll first get an email from someone on our team, that will look like this:
Next step is to verify your identity via home address and SSN:
Which triggers you to answer personal questions via information held by creditors:
Once verified, you're ready to sign!
Click on the "Sign Here" and you'll get this box which allows you to "draw" or type your signature.
It's hard with a mouse on your computer, but easy on your phone or tablet.
All done? Hit submit once.
Then hit it again and you're done!
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