Both memos are dated Nov. 18 and supersede successive, similarly temporary authorizations, the latest of which were set to expire at the end of 2021. The procedures were first established in 2020 as part of the IRS’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The memo on compliance documents notes that the procedures do not establish a precedent for accepting e-signatures or email under “other circumstances.” Both memos call their procedures a “temporary deviation” from standard ones, and neither addresses the AICPA’s and other stakeholders’ previous requests to make wider e-signing permanent.
Memo NHQ-01-1121-0004, which addresses compliance documents and emailing, and its predecessors cover compliance interactions between IRS employees and taxpayers outside standard filing procedures. These interactions are related to determining or collecting a tax liability, including “any statement or form traditionally exchanged” during such interactions. The memo lists several representative categories, with examples of related forms. These categories include: extensions of a statute of limitation on assessment or collection; waivers of statutory notices of deficiency consents to assessment; certain closing agreements; prior-year delinquent tax returns obtained through an examination or other collection interaction; other statements or forms needing the signature of a taxpayer or representative traditionally collected outside of standard filing procedures; and other statements or documents relevant to development of a case, not limited to IRS forms or signed documents.
Employees must authenticate in person or by phone the identity of any taxpayer or representative asking to send documents by email, advise them that unencrypted email is not secure, and recommend they exclude sensitive information and transmit any personally identifying information or other potentially sensitive information only by encrypted, password-protected attachments. More taxpayer-facing information is at irs.gov/usingemail.
Tax practitioners submitting third-party authorizations on Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, or Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization, should be encouraged to instead use the IRS’s dedicated online portal for that purpose, the memo states. Those authorizations may also be submitted via the IRS’s Tax Pro Account feature.