WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced the Electronic Signature Standards Act to make it easier for taxpayers to be represented in disputes with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Given the complexity of the tax code, many taxpayers seek professional tax help when dealing with the IRS. However, in order to give tax experts, like attorneys, enrolled agents, or certified public accountants (CPAs) access to personal tax records, taxpayers and experts must sign and submit third party disclosure authorization forms. The Electronic Signature Standards Act would make it easier, and faster, for professional tax experts to represent taxpayers before the IRS by instituting electronic signature standards for third party disclosure authorization forms.

Taxpayers deserve quick access to the IRS, and this bill makes that access possible,” said Portman. “People shouldn’t have to wait up to 12 days to print, sign, mail, and receive approval from the IRS before trained tax professionals can begin representing them before the IRS. By utilizing electronic signatures for third party disclosure authorization forms, which are used extensively in the private sector and even by the IRS itself, that wait time can come down and taxpayers can more quickly get the answers they deserve.”

This bill creates a more convenient process for taxpayers and tax professionals to interact with the IRS,” Bennet said. “This is a common-sense step that would make it easier for individuals to conduct business and obtain the information they need in a timely manner.”

NOTE: The IRS already uses electronic signatures for form 4506-T, Request for a Transcript of Tax Return. These forms are commonly used in the mortgage industry. The use of electronic signatures on these forms has allowed the IRS to process over 20 million of these forms a year. The Electronic Signature Standards Act would extend similar electronic signature requirements to form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, and form 8821, Tax Information Authorization. These forms are required before a professional tax expert can begin representing a taxpayer before the IRS.