COVID-19 brought with it a slew of changes when it comes to how businesses transact. The IRS was not immune to these changes and had to quickly adapt to how practitioners were processing tax forms when they could not meet with their clients in person. Starting in March of 2020, in the initial weeks of pandemic response, the IRS began accepting digital signatures and forms via secure email when previously these documents required a wet signature.
The pandemic procedures were extended several times and finally set to expire this year until the IRS announced they would extend the process once more. Doug O’Donnell, IRS Deputy Commissioner announced last week that many practitioners had expressed the need to keep the digital transfer of information policies in place even post-pandemic. While many practitioners have continued to develop their practices in the digital age, the IRS has traditionally lagged. But O’Donnell recognized this week these processes were an important step in the IRS continuing to move the need in their own digital transformation.
Security and protection of taxpayer information has always been paramount with the IRS. The focus on protecting taxpayer information has been the hold up for nearly every IRS digital advancement and continues to be the factor that slows down further progress. However, the move this past week to progress towards a more electronic process shows progress by the IRS. A list of forms that may be filed with an e-signature going forward can be found here.
Another benefit to tax practitioners is the extended time to communicate via encrypted email. For practitioners working with a specific revenue agent to resolve issues, documents may be transferred via encrypted email to help aid in the communication process. Currently, this transmission guidance is set to expire in October of 2025, by it remains to be seen what changes will be made before then.
The steps are positive news for practitioners especially after several years of long IRS delays in processing paper forms.
E-file signatures on form 8879s continue to be allowed for electronic signature.