When completing a manual or paper tax return, you know how important it is to sign and date the document before mailing it in in order to make it legally binding. What about electronic filing – is signing still important? Our CPAs are breaking down why you need to sign your e-file authorization form and how to do so.
Why Is it Necessary to Sign an E-File Authorization Form
When you file your taxes electronically, the IRS still needs you to sign the return as a written receipt that to the best of your knowledge, the return is accurate and valid. Otherwise, an unsigned form is considered a red flag of identity theft and fraud. A signature is the government’s failsafe to legally hold the taxpayer accountable and to validate that they authorized the tax return’s filing.
How to File Electronically Sign Your E-File Authorization Form
The easiest IRS-approved way to electronically sign your returns is the self-select PIN. To create a PIN, you need to request an electronic filing PIN from IRS.gov and provide your prior year’s adjusted gross income. Once you have this 5-digit number, you can e-file your taxes, or if are using an electronic return originator (ERO), such as H&R Block or TurboTax, you can authorize them to use your PIN on your behalf.
Signing Authorization Forms
Two authorization forms can be signed with an electronic signature:
- Form 8878 is the application of extension of time to file and authorizes an ERO to use your PIN on Forms 4868 and 2350
- Form 8879 is an IRS e-file signature authorization form that authorizes an ERO to use your PIN on your tax return.
With tablets, phones, and touchscreens as well as PDF signatures, the IRS has expanded the options for electronic signatures. You’ll need to digitally sign form 8878 and 8879 using one of the following methods:
- Handwritten signature entered onto an electronic signature pad;
- A handwritten signature written on a display screen with a stylus (or your finger);
- A digitized image of your handwritten signature;
- A typed name at the end of the electronic record.
Schedule a Consultation for Tax Preparation Today
We understand that tax preparation is confusing and exhausting. Even something as simple as signing your return requires multiple steps! Fortunately, we can help you maximize your deductions, and make the most of tax season this year. To contact one of our experienced tax professionals today, call (919) 872-0866 or complete the contact form below.