IRS offers contact-free signature options for authorization forms

IRS Tax Tip 2021-11, February 2, 2021

The IRS has a new online option to help tax professionals remotely get signatures from individual and business clients on authorization forms and submit those forms electronically.

This new option is part of the IRS' continued efforts to expand digital options for tax pros using electronic signatures. It will also help protect taxpayers and tax professionals by more easily allowing remote transactions.

The Submit Forms 2848 and 8821 Online is available on the Tax Professionals page of IRS.gov. Tax professionals must have a Secure Access account, including a current username and password, or create an account before submitting an online authorization form.

Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative PDF and Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization PDF are two forms that allow taxpayers to authorize the IRS to disclose the taxpayer's tax information to third parties, such as tax professionals.

Form 2848 is a taxpayer's written authorization appointing an eligible individual to represent the taxpayer before the IRS, including performing certain acts on the taxpayer's behalf. It also authorizes the representative to receive related confidential tax information of the taxpayer from the IRS. Form 8821 is a taxpayer's written authorization designating a third party to receive and view the taxpayer's information.

The taxpayer and the tax professional must sign Form 2848. If the tax professional uses the new online option, the signatures on the forms can be handwritten or electronic. Form 8821 only needs the taxpayer's signature. If they are using the new online option, the taxpayer's signature can be handwritten or electronic.

If the tax professional uses the electronic signature option for a new client, they must authenticate their client's identity. For details on this process, see the Authentication section in the online option's frequently asked questions.

Tax pros can also use the Submit Forms 2848 and 8821 Online to withdraw previous authorizations. However, the new online option can't be used to ask questions or address other issues.

Authorization forms can still be mailed or faxed to the IRS. Signatures on mailed or faxed forms must be handwritten.

Generally, these forms are recorded on the IRS's Centralized Authorization File. Authorization forms uploaded through this option will be worked on a first-in, first-out basis along with mailed and faxed forms.

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