Tax Pros, Taxpayers Advised to Use Secure Online Account and Digital Signature Options
The IRS has reminded tax professionals and taxpayers that they can use digital signatures on a variety of common IRS forms and access a secure online platform to view and make changes to their account. The IRS has balanced the e-signature option with critical security and protection needed against identity theft and fraud. The Service has informed taxpayers that acceptable electronic signature methods include:
a typed name on a signature block;
a scanned or digitized image of a handwritten signature that’s 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; or
a signature created by a third-party software.
The IRS will accept images of signatures (scanned or photographed) including common file types supported by Microsoft 365 such as .tiff, .jpg, .jpeg, .pdf, Microsoft Office suite, or Zip. Further, the IRS allows taxpayers and representatives to use electronic or digital signatures on certain paper forms which they cannot file using IRS e-file. The forms are available on the IRS website and through tax professional’s software products.
The IRS has also added a new feature this year, which gives taxpayers digital control over who can represent them or view their tax records. The new feature, one of many recent enhancements to the Online Account for individuals, will allow individual taxpayers to authorize their tax practitioner to represent them before the IRS with a Power of Attorney (POA) and to view their tax accounts with a Tax Information Authorization (TIA). Tax professionals may go to the new Tax Pro Account on IRS.gov to digitally initiate POAs and TIAs. These digital authorization requests are simpler versions of Forms 2848 and 8821.
This new digital authorization option will allow the IRS to reduce its current CAF inventory and to focus on authorization requests received through fax, mail or the Submit Forms 2848 and 8821 Online – all of which require IRS personnel to handle. The Security Summit partners remind all tax professionals to review their security measures. IRS Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data (.pdf), provides tax pros with a starting point for basic steps to protect clients. IRS Publication 5293, Data Security Resource Guide for Tax Professionals (.pdf), provides a compilation of data theft information available on IRS.gov, including the reporting processes.