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IRS Expansion of e-Signature Applications
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IRS Expansion of e-Signature Applications

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  • Good afternoon in today’s IRS e-signature Initiatives presentation, we will address the following: e-signature objectives & background e-signature legislation e-signature challenges IRS e-signature Role e-signature initiatives Key Messages
  • IRS Strategic Plan 2009 -2013 Goal 1: Improve service to make voluntary compliance easier Objective 1: Incorporate taxpayer perspectives to improve all service interactions Objective 2: Expedite and improve issue resolution across all interactions with taxpayers, making it easier to navigate the IRS Objective 3: Provide taxpayers with targeted, timely guidance and outreach Objective 4: Strengthen partnerships with tax practitioners, tax preparers, and other third parties in order to ensure effective tax administration Goal 2: Enforce the law to ensure everyone meets their obligations to pay taxes Objective 1: Proactively enforce the law in a timely manner while respecting taxpayer rights and minimizing taxpayer burden Objective 2: Expand enforcement approaches and tools Objective 3: Meet the challenges of international tax administration Objective 4: Allocate compliance resources using a data-driven approach to target existing and emerging high-risk areas Objective 5: Continue focused oversight of the tax-exempt sector Objective 6: Ensure that all tax practitioners, tax preparers, and other third parties in the tax system adhere to professional standards and follow the law Strategic Foundations: Invest for high performance Objective 1: Make the IRS the best place to work in government Objective 2: Build and deploy advanced information technology systems, processes, and tools to improve IRS efficiency and productivity Objective 3: Use data and research across the organization to make informed decisions and allocate resources Objective 4: Ensure the privacy and security of data and safety and security of employees
  • The IRS has a long history of embracing electronic signature methods and technology. Commissioner’s Task Force: In 2000, the Commissioner’s Task Force was formed to develop electronic alternative signature methods resulting in the use of the Practitioner PIN and the Self-Select PIN. Mandate: For Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return as of October 27, 2010, 98,739,933 tax returns were signed electronically using a personal identification number. IRS e-signature guidance: For IRS purposes, alternative signatures are signatures other than original handwritten signatures inscribed on the relevant document. Examples: Practitioner PIN, Self Select PIN, and existing guidance has been set for W-8, W-9, W-11, etc. Rev Proc 2008-35, section 5, includes instructions, for electronic signatures on electronic 7216 consent forms between tax return preparers and taxpayers. These consent forms do not get sent to the IRS but could be investigated, monitored, or audited by IRS revenue agents, Criminal Investigation special agents, or TIGTA. Additional Info: Initial Evaluation Criteria for IRS electronic signatures: - Burden of cost, ease of adoption, compatibility with existing law - Acceptability, ease of use, perceptions - Reliability, fraud deterrence value, authentication of signature, privacy, and technology Components of IRS e-signature: A signature provides testable means to identify the signer; A signature ties the signer to the document; A signature establishes the intent of the signer ETARC is charged to: Approve alternative signature solutions for tax documents and request for tax data information Review, recommend, and consult with internal and external stakeholders on electronic signatures Maintain awareness of new e-signature technology Include the government series, Understanding Electronic Signatures: The Key to E-Government by Stephen H. Holden, March 2004, as a reference.
  • Legal basis delivered through: RRA 98, GPEA, E-SIGN The enactment of GPEA in 1998 provided both the impetus to use electronic authentication to support electronic transactions and the legal foundation to help make it happen. Through GPEA, Congress recognized the benefits, to both federal agencies and the public, of moving from a paper-based to electronic transactions, including reduced error rates, lower processing costs, and improved customer satisfaction. As a result, GPEA required agencies by 2003 to provide for the electronic maintenance, submission, or transaction of information as a substitute for paper where practicable. The law also stipulates that agencies use and accept “electronic signatures” in the process.” (Understanding Electronic Signatures: The Key to E-Government, Stephen H. Holden” Definitions: GPEA defines "electronic signature" as follows: " . . . a method of signing an electronic message that -- (A) identifies and authenticates a particular person as the source of the electronic message; and (B) indicates such person's approval of the information contained in the electronic message." (GPEA, section 1709(1)). This definition is consistent with other accepted legal definitions of signature. The term "signature" has long been understood as including "any symbol executed or adopted by a party with present intention to authenticate a writing." The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (E-Sign) Act of 2000 enacted the electronic signing process of commercial transactions. E-Sign defines electronic signature as follows: “ (5) ELECTRONIC SIGNATURE.—The term ‘‘electronic signature’’ means an electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.”
  • Section 6061(a) of the Internal Revenue Code generally provides that any return, statement, or other document required to be made under any provision of the internal revenue laws or regulations shall be signed in accordance with forms or regulations prescribed by the Secretary. Section 6061(b) authorizes the Secretary to develop procedures for the acceptance of signatures in digital or other electronic form. Section 6061(b)(1)(B) provides that the Secretary may provide for alternative methods of signing returns, declarations, statements, or other documents. Section 6061(b)(2) provides that, notwithstanding any other provision of law, any return, declaration, statement, or other document signed under an approved alternative method will be treated for all purposes as an original signature.
  • Legal, compliance, and enforcement: From the Holden report, “Understanding the Challenges of E-Signatures”, Holden report…page 7 he states “How do users (i.e., individuals, businesses, government employees, and other stakeholders) complete transactions that by law, policy, or tradition require either a signature or some form of authentication? There are choices for program managers, but often they are characterized as technological choices. In reality, though, technology is just one part of any solution for eliminating paper signatures to enable electronic transactions. Such solutions are a mix of policy, technology, and management choices. As a result, to view the choice of an e-signature solution strictly as a technological decision holds the potential to skew the decision process.” So in essence, the IRS legal, compliance, and enforcement divisions must operate in one accord to address e-signature challenges. Authentication: IRS is engaging on an Internet Strategy to address authentication and the levels of risk. Remote transactions also remain an issue for the IRS to authenticate the taxpayer. Taxpayers would like to sign Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return, for example, at their home via the internet. Forms: Transactions and characteristics IRS has to address each form type individually and associate the transaction type and the characteristics. No “Silver Bullet” solution: There is no one e-signature solution. Consider other challenges presented. The IRS e-signature guidance is on an individual form basis.
  • Ensure IRS policy….Consultation: IRS collaborates with industry and government to discuss e-signature practices, policy, compliance, and challenges, etc. Explore New Methods….Pilot Programs: Prior to accepting an e-signature method into policy, IRS may review and evaluate a proposed signature method for a limited time period (pilot program) Examples: Jackson Hewitt electronic signature pad/reviewing a proposed pilot to electronically sign Form 8655, Reporting Agent Authorization, using an electronic signature tablet. Proposal : IRS considers the e-signature risk assessment for a recommended e-signature alternative signature method. Form type business owner supports the proposed method and the e-signature team consults with various IRS divisions for evaluation, and there’s a stakeholder review & approval e-signature Proposal (IRS Stakeholder Review): During the proposal process ETA consults with the following business units. - Office of Privacy, Information Protection and Data Security - Modernization and Information Technology Services - Chief Counsel and Division Counsel - Communications, Liaison & Disclosure - Criminal Investigation Division
  • Portal (PUP, EUP, RUP) Portal Modernization Web Services (e.g. Transcripts) E-Transcripts to be developed in three stages: Phase 1 (Toll Free Improvements) Phase 2 (Interim Web Solution) Phase 3 (Long-Term Web Solution) e-authentication (Foundational Technology) Secure Email (Foundational Technology) e-signature (Foundational Technology) e-signature conceptual stage 1. Provide authenticity services for documents 2. Enable taxpayers and third parties to exchange data knowing it is authentic 3. Require robust PKI infrastructure accessible to third parties
  • Embrace electronic signatures: The IRS is embracing electronic signatures along with other government agencies, commercial industry, and IRS internal and external stakeholders. Legislation and IRS policy gives authority for electronic signature usage. Industry and government collaboration: The IRS has a long history with industry collaboration. The federal tax system is based on a third party filing model. The Free File Alliance is another example of IRS and industry collaboration. The Free File Alliance is a coalition of 19 industry leading tax software companies partnered with the IRS to help millions of Americans prepare and e-file their federal tax returns for free. Expansion of e-signature applications: Enterprise solutions: Establish enterprise solutions to address e-signature challenges With the key messages presented in this presentation, hopefully you’ve been enlightened with the IRS initiatives, the challenges, our accomplishments, and the future initiatives of IRS e-signature.

IRS Expansion of e-Signature Applications IRS Expansion of e-Signature Applications Presentation Transcript

  • Initiatives: Expansion of e-signature Applications Kevin R. Hatton, Chief, Policy & Strategy Electronic Tax Administration and Refundable Credits Internal Revenue Service
  • Agenda
    • Objectives and Background
    • Legislation
    • Challenges
    • IRS e-signature Role
    • Initiatives
    • Key Messages
  • IRS Strategic Plan 2009-2013
    • GOAL 1:
    • Improve service to make voluntary compliance easier
    • GOAL 2:
    • Enforce the law to ensure every one meets their obligation to pay taxes
    • STRATEGIC FOUNDATIONS:
    • Invest in high performance
  • IRS Policy Objectives on Electronic Signatures
    • The IRS will support electronic signature
    • methods that:
    • Protect citizen rights and privacy, limit burden, and promote broad acceptance of electronic commerce.
    • Use technologies and processes that facilitate electronic filing, payment, and communication without relying on paper-based signatures.
    • Replace paper transactions with electronic methods that are more accurate and less expensive to process.
  • IRS Policy Objectives on Electronic Signatures
    • IRS will:
    • Help taxpayers understand that electronic signatures have the same acceptance and legality as paper signatures.
    • Promote electronic signature methods by emphasizing their availability and benefits.
    • Work with other government agencies to pursue common approaches to electronic signature methods while assessing the risk levels.
  • Background
    • Commissioner’s Task Force (2000)
      • Practitioner PIN & Self-Select PIN
    • Mandate the use of e-signature on individual income tax returns
    • IRS e-signature guidance
  • Legislation
    • Internal Revenue Restructuring and
    • Reform Act of 1998 (RRA ‘98)
    • Government Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA)
    • Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (e-SIGN)
  • Legislation
    • Internal Revenue Code § 6061 requires signatures on tax returns
    • Regulations allow the Commissioner discretion to define the signature
  • Challenges
    • Legal, Compliance, and Enforcement
    • Authentication
    • Forms: Transactions and Characteristics
    • No “Silver Bullet” solution
  • IRS e-signature Role
    • Facilitate e-Business Filing:
      • Ensure IRS policy is consistent and compliant
      • Explore new methods
      • Evaluate and recommend approval of alternative signature methods
      • Provide policy and procedure information to stakeholders
  • Initiatives
      • Portal (PUP, EUP, RUP)
      • Web Services (e.g. Transcripts)
      • e-authentication (Foundational Technology)
      • Secure Email (Foundational Technology)
      • e-signature (Foundational Technology)
  • Key Messages
    • Embracing electronic signatures
    • Industry and government collaboration
    • Expansion of e-signature applications
      • Technology
      • Legal
      • Privacy
      • Security
      • Management
    • Enterprise solutions