Preparer Signatures on Tax Returns

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IRS Notice 2004-54 allows income tax return preparers to sign original returns, amended returns, or requests for filing extensions by rubber stamp, mechanical device, or computer software program. These alternative methods of signing must include either a facsimile of the individual preparer's signature or the individual preparer's printed name. Income tax return preparers who use alternative methods of signing must provide all of the other preparer information that is required on returns and extensions, such as the name, address, relevant employer identification number, the preparer's individual identification number (social security number or preparer tax identification number), and phone number. The notice applies only to income tax return preparers as defined by Treas. Reg. § 301.7701-15(a) and does not alter the signature requirements for any other type of document currently required to be manually signed, such as elections, applications for changes in accounting method, powers of attorney, or consent forms.


CLARIFICATION OF SIGNATURES WITH RESPECT TO EXTENSIONS

SOURCE: IRS HEADLINER VOLUME 131 http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=147223,00.html

August 31, 2005

Original Signature Still Required on Some Extension Forms

NOTE: This headliner is current through the publication date. Since changes may have occurred after the publication date that would affect the accuracy of this document, no guarantees are made concerning the technical accuracy after the publication date.


Tax professionals have questioned why IRS has returned extension requests, particularly Form 2758, Application for Extension of Time to File Certain Excise, Income, Information, and Other Returns, and Form 8800, Application for Additional Extension of Time to File U.S. Return for a Partnership, REMIC, or for Certain Trusts, requesting an original signature.

Notice 2004-54, issued in August 2004, does allow income tax return preparers to sign original returns, amended returns, or requests for filing extensions by rubber stamp, mechanical device, or computer software program. However, that policy change only applies when the preparer signs as an income tax return preparer, and not when the preparer signs on behalf of the taxpayer. In practical terms, only those documents that include a separate signature line for a paid tax preparer may be signed using an alternative means of signature. When the form requires only one signature, the signature must be done manually.

Forms 2758 and 8800 do not include a separate signature line for paid tax preparers and require an original signature.

The Service will accept, as timely, any rejected extension form which is returned with an original, manual signature. A penalty will be imposed only if the return is not filed by the extension date. So a return preparer can get their client to sign the rejected form and resubmit it to get the extension, even after August 15. (Emphasis added by editor.)

Reference: Notice 2004 – 54 http://www.irs.gov/irb/2004-33_IRB/ar10.html

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