Tax professionals who struggle to persuade their clients to sign and return their Declaration of Taxpayer forms in a timely manner can relax this tax season. For the first time, the IRS is allowing the form to be signed electronically.
Using electronic signatures eases filing pressures for tax preparers and their clients during a period when time is at a premium. Returns can be completed faster, the IRS can process them sooner and taxpayers can receive refunds quicker.
Forms 8878 and 8879 are declaration documents required by the IRS when a tax preparer files an electronic return on behalf of a taxpayer. These forms serve as a taxpayer testament that the return is true, correct and complete. The taxpayer must complete them before the return is e-filed. Tax preparers must obtain these forms from each client, signed, within three days of filing.
“In the past, it has been a real pain for preparers to get the signed forms from their clients,” says Maj Bass, senior marketing manager, Intuit Professional Tax Group. “Some preparers skipped it and some ‘bootlegged’ it, which defeated the whole purpose.”
In a Saffron8 Strategic Brand Communications-Intuit® study, 50 percent of tax professionals expressed a keen interest in eSignature technologies to speed up efiling. It isn’t hard to see why. The process frees up tax professionals for other pursuits, such as devoting more time to advising clients and building client relationships.
Through eSignature technologies, such as Intuit’s professional tax software, tax preparers can send their clients a link to encrypted documents requiring signatures. Clients can access these documents, conveniently, from any supported mobile or desktop device. There is no need to download and install software, making it a hassle-free experience for even the most non-tech-savvy client.
Many of these technologies automatically generate email messages to remind clients to review and sign the form. They also include solid security measures, such as a series of questions that verify the identity of the signatory. For verification purposes, the tax preparer can maintain a detailed audit trail to ensure the client has received and signed the document. Completed documents are digitally stored, filed and accessible for future use by all signatories.
Tax season is often a hectic, stressful time for tax professionals and taxpayers alike. eSignature options streamline tax filing by minimizing the time-consuming, often frustrating process of signature gathering – reducing it to a couple of clicks lowers opportunity costs and boosts the value potential for your business.