Taxpayer Bill of Rights  

II. Explanation of the Bill

Title II. Electronic Filing
C. Paperless Electronic Filing

(Sec. 2003 of the Bill and Sec. 6061 of the Code)

Present Law

Code section 6061 requires that tax forms be signed as required by the Secretary. The IRS will not accept an electronically filed return unless it has also received a Form 8453, which is a paper form that contains signature information of the filer.

A return generally is considered timely filed when it is received by the IRS on or before the due date of the return. If the requirements of Code section 7502 are met, timely mailing is treated as timely filing. If the return is mailed by registered mail, the dated registration statement is prima facie evidence of delivery. As an electronically filed return is not mailed, section 7502 does not apply.

The IRS periodically publishes a list of the forms and schedules that may be electronically transmitted, as well as a list of forms, schedules, and other information that cannot be electronically filed.

Reasons for Change

Electronically filed returns cannot provide the maximum efficiency for taxpayers and the IRS under current rules that require signature information to be filed on paper. Also, taxpayers need to know how the IRS will determine the filing date of a return filed electronically. The Committee believes that more types of returns could be filed electronically if proper procedures were in place. Also, as the IRS shifts to a paperless tax return system, the Committee intends for the IRS to assist taxpayers in shifting to paperless record retention.

Explanation of Provision

The provision requires the Secretary to develop procedures that would eliminate the need to file a paper form relating to signature information. Until the procedures are in place, the provision authorizes the Secretary to provide for alternative methods of signing all returns, declarations, statements, or other documents. An alternative method of signature would be treated identically, for both civil and criminal purposes, as a signature on a paper form.

The provision also provides rules for determining when electronic returns are deemed filed and to make it possible for taxpayers to authorize, on electronically filed returns, persons (such as return preparers) to whom information may be disclosed pursuant to section 6103.

The provision requires the Secretary to establish procedures, to the extent practicable, to receive all forms electronically for taxable periods beginning after December 31, 1998.

Effective Date

The provision is effective on the date of enactment.

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