Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

AICPA Identifies Problems with IRS' Electronic Signature Rules: Verification through Records Checks and Authentication Questions May Risk Clients' Data Security and Be Impractical for Some

Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

AICPA Identifies Problems with IRS' Electronic Signature Rules: Verification through Records Checks and Authentication Questions May Risk Clients' Data Security and Be Impractical for Some

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Jeffrey Porter, CPA, chair of the AICPA Tax Executive Committee, sent a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in late September raising concerns about the IRS's recently issued guidance on electronic signatures. The letter addresses the electronic signature standards that apply when a taxpayer does not appear in person before the tax return preparer to present a valid form of identification.

In March, the IRS updated Publication 1345, Handbook for Authorized IRS e-File Providers of Individual Income Tax Returns, to authorize taxpayers to sign, and practitioners to accept, e-file authorization forms containing electronic signatures. (For more on the new standards, see "E-File and Digital Signatures: Where Are We Now?" The Tax Adviser, June 2014, page 430.)

The IRS guidance requires the practitioner to record the taxpayer's name, Social Security number, address, and birthdate and to verify that this information is "consistent with the information provided through record checks with the applicable agency or institution or through credit bureaus or similar databases." The key to this verification, for taxpayers who do not appear in person, is that it conform to Level 2 assurance in National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication 800-63, Electronic Authentication Guideline, and knowledge-based authentication or higher assurance level.

Level 2 assurance under this standard entails verifying the taxpayer's identity through records checks with credit bureaus and other databases and includes dynamic knowledge-based authentication, which involves generating questions from U.S. public records and credit reports and requiring the taxpayer to correctly answer those questions.

In the context of electronically signing a tax return, the AICPA letter says, this implies it will require the tax return preparer to send the taxpayer's data to an identity verification vendor before the taxpayer can sign the return. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.