Beginning on January 1, the Internal Revenue Service plans to limit the number of e-file signature authorization documents for filing Form 1041 estate and trust tax returns to a single 1041 return rather than multiple returns.

The IRS said last Friday it has decided that the Multiple Tax Return Listing process used to sign electronically filed Form 1041, U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts needs to be modified. Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, the IRS e-file Signature Authorization document, Form 8879-F, can only be associated with a single 1041 return, instead of the multiple forms used today. The Multiple Tax Return Listing process had allowed fiduciaries to mass-sign electronically filed the estate and trust tax returns, but they will now need to be signed individually.

The change comes as a result of a legal review by the IRS that uncovered two problems. First, the IRS determined that the perjury statement on the form refers to amounts in Part 1 of the form, but the relevant amounts are actually on the attached listing. Second, the IRS noted that a signature on one form cannot ensure that the signer reviewed and approved each of the 1041 forms in the listing.

The following publications will be updated to reflect the policy change:

•  Publication 1437, Procedures for the 1041 e-File Program U.S. Income Tax Returns for Estates and Trusts for Tax Year 2013

• Publication 1438, File Specifications, Validation Criteria & Record Layouts for the Form 1041, e-File U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts for Tax Year 2013

• Publication 4163, Modernized e-File (MeF) Information for Authorized e-File Providers for Business Returns

• Publication 4164, Modernized e-File (MeF) Guide for Software Developers and Transmitters

The IRS acknowledged that it recognizes that this change due to the legal requirements will add some extra steps for some fiduciaries. The agency said it would work to make the change as smooth as possible.

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