The Internal Revenue Service is asking for input on the acceptable standards it should put in place for electronic signatures.

The IRS issued Internal Revenue Bulletin 2013-4, Announcement No. 2013-8 seeking recommendations for acceptable e-signature standards. This document solicits recommendations and comments about electronic signatures for remote transactions on IRS forms that are not required to be sent to the IRS, as well as acceptable standards for use of an electronic signature on transactions and forms.

The IRS is also looking for suggestions for how to accomplish the electronic signature requirements which satisfy federal GPEA (Government Paperwork Elimination Act) and E-SIGN requirements, along with requirements for creating a legally binding electronic signature on electronic transactions. The IRS also wants to know which factors it should consider when deciding which signing process to use, as well as other best industry practices.

The IRS noted that e-signature standards will promote efficiency, reduce burden and improve identity proofing methods to confirm the identity of the signer. Announcement 2013-8 provides details on the request and proposed standards. The IRS advised people to submit their recommendations and comments electronically to by March 1, 2013.

President Clinton signed into law the Electronic Records and Signatures in Commerce Act, also known as the Electronic Signatures Act, in October 2000, giving electronic contracts the same weight as those signed on paper, but some federal agencies have been slow to embrace e-signatures.

Earlier this month, the IRS began accepting e-signatures on requests for tax transcripts after pilot-testing a program with electronic signature technology provider DocuSign (see IRS Begins Accepting Electronic Signatures on Tax Transcript Requests).

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