E-Filing is the New Norm; Digital Signatures Should Be, Too

Practice Management, Workflow tools Businessman holding digital tablet

Since the IRS mandate in 2012 requiring that a tax professional or firm filing more than 11 forms in a year must use e-file, the volume of tax returns filed online has skyrocketed. In fact, according to efile.com, 91 percent of tax returns were e-filed in 2015.

E-file is definitely the new norm – and it is just the tip of the iceberg for expected and required digital workflow processes within tax services.

Required digital workflow processes are determined by the IRS and include the mandatory Form 8879, IRS e-file Signature Authorization, to verify that tax professionals have the legal authority to e-file on behalf of their client. Expected digital workflow process stems from the increasingly savvy audience of today’s taxpayers, and includes their expectations for secure digital document transfer resources and digital signature tools.

Even the aging taxpaying population is becoming accustomed to the conveniences of digital documents and data at their fingertips. This is evidenced by the ever-diminishing number of bank tellers at local banking centers, which is largely due to the fact that more and more banking is done online, from the convenience of a home computer or mobile phone.

Just like we all expect our bank to be responsible for providing a secure portal from which to check our bank balances, transfer money or deposit checks, taxpayers today expect their tax professionals to provide tax documents for review in a secure fashion that enables the ability to digitally sign and return them securely. As a result, the expectation for digital signature tools has emerged and is rapidly growing among tax clients.

This is one client expectation that benefits you as much as it does your clients. They get the security and convenience. You get a whole lot more:

Time Savings. Modern digital signature tools can save you valuable time by streamlining client document review and signature into one simple step. You send the file for digital review and signature, and automated reminders can mean that you don’t need to touch the file again until it is ready to e-file.

IRS Compliance. As the tax preparation process moves to more and more digital files, storing paper files and tracking paper signatures can be complicated and leave you open to liability. Digital signature and document resources give you peace of mind knowing that you have an easily accessible, organized record of the signed return and Form 8879.

Client Loyalty. Your world centers on tax, but your clients’ world doesn’t. Providing modern conveniences, such as a document portal and digital signature tools, means that clients can get you what you need quickly and easily. The simpler you make the process for them, the happier they are to work with you in the future.

Data and Identity Security. Choosing a digital signature resource with 256-bit encryption ensures that your files are transferred safely and that the identity of the taxpayer is verified before he or she can sign the documents. Digital signatures are traceable and unique, ensuring that no changes were made to a document post-signature, and that the signature came from the attributed individual and was not manually copied or forged. This security protects you and your clients.

If you are ready to make digital signatures a part of your tax workflow, eSignature offers you a modern, streamlined and secure process to send your clients their tax documents, including the Form 8879 for review and signature. Clients enjoy the convenience of being able to review and sign from anywhere, on any device, and typically respond within hours. Auto-reminders save you time by giving slower responders a nudge, and the signature records give you peace of mind that you have compliance covered. In one simple step, your document review and signature is managed. Sent. Signed. Done.

To learn more about eSignature and how it can support your digital workflow, look at these resources: