Temporary e-signature authorization for IRS forms extended

By Sally P. Schreiber, J.D.

In a memorandum dated Dec. 11, 2020, the IRS extended the period during which it will accept a number of forms for which it will temporarily allow required signatures in electronic or digital form. The original authorization was from Aug. 28 through Dec. 31, 2020. Due to the ongoing public health crisis, that period has been extended from Jan. 1 through June 30, 2021.

The IRS made a temporary policy change on March 27, allowing IRS employees to accept digital signatures and images of signatures on certain documents related to determining or collecting a tax liability: extensions of the statute of limitation on assessment or collection; waivers of statutory notices of deficiency and consents to assessment; agreements to specific tax matters or tax liabilities (closing agreements); and other statements or forms outside standard filing procedures. That policy was originally in effect through July 15, 2020, and has now been extended through June 30, 2021.

The forms can be filed only on paper but otherwise require a handwritten signature. Allowing them to be e-signed remotely before being printed and mailed to the Service will help tax professionals and their taxpayer clients by minimizing the need for in-person contact, the IRS said.

The forms are:

  • Form 3115, Application for Change in Accounting Method;
  • Form 8832, Entity Classification Election;
  • Form 8802, Application for U.S. Residency Certification;
  • Form 1066, U.S. Income Tax Return for Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduit;
  • Form 706, U.S. Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return;
  • Form 706-NA, U.S. Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return, Estate of Nonresident Not a Citizen of the United States;
  • Form 709, U.S. Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return;
  • Form 1120-ND, Return for Nuclear Decommissioning Funds and Certain Related Persons;
  • Form 1120-RIC, U.S. Income Tax Return for Regulated Investment Companies;
  • Form 1120-C, U.S. Income Tax Return for Cooperative Associations;
  • Form 1120-REIT, U.S. Income Tax Return for Real Estate Investment Trusts;
  • Form 1120-L, U.S. Life Insurance Company Income Tax Return;
  • Form 1120-PC, U.S. Property and Casualty Insurance Company Income Tax Return;
  • Form 1128, Application to Adopt, Change or Retain a Tax Year;
  • 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 8453 series, Form 8878 series, and Form 8879 series for IRS e-file Signature Authorization Forms; and
  • Forms 8038, 8038-G, and 8038-GC pertaining to tax-exempt bonds (as clarified in a Dec. 28, 2020, update to the Dec. 11 memorandum).

In a June 4 letter to the IRS, the AICPA requested a permanent solution in the form of updated e-signature guidance and authentication requirements. The AICPA noted that the IRS was directed to develop procedures for accepting e-signatures by the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, P.L. 105-206. The AICPA on Dec. 10 reiterated that request and urged the IRS to extend its current e-signature authorization through Oct. 15, 2021, as well as expanding the scope to include non–income tax returns and paper-filed returns.

For more news and reporting on the coronavirus and how CPAs can handle challenges related to the outbreak, visit the JofA’s coronavirus resources page.

For tax-related resources, visit the AICPA’s COVID-19: Tax resources page.

Sally P. Schreiber, J.D., (Sally.Schreiber@aicpa-cima.com) is a Tax Adviser senior editor.

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