If a taxpayer signs an eFile form and there are defects in the information included on the form, does this invalidate the tax return that is eFiled? The IRS addresses this in CCA 201945027. This IRS memorandum addresses an eFile form where the person who signed the form for a partnership even though he had the wrong job title listed next to his name.
Facts & Procedural History
This guidance involves a general partnership that is owned by a corporation. The corporation was the general partner for the partnership.
Apparently the corporation’s CFO signed the eFile form for the partnership tax return on behalf of the corporation. The eFile form had another job title for the CFO. It appears that the CFO had more than one job function for the corporation. Presumably the job title he used on the eFile form was treasurer, vice president, or something similar.
The IRS asked the IRS Office of Chief Counsel, the IRS’s tax attorneys, whether the incorrect job title invalidated the tax return.
The Tax Return Signature Requirement
The starting point for tax return filing issues is Sec. 6011. It provides the general rule that taxpayers have to file tax returns on the forms and according to the applicable regulations.
Section 6063 goes further and says that a partnership tax return has to be signed by one of the partners. It also says the IRS can rely on a signature on the return. So if the tax return was pulled for audit by the IRS, the IRS agent could assume that the signature is valid.
The courts have also imposed other requirements. One of these is that the return must be signed under penalties of perjury. The IRS memorandum here cites Beard v. Commissioner, 82 T.C. 766, for this. Beard involved a taxpayer who submitted a modified a Form 1040 tax return that generated a false tax refund. But the Beard case does state the general rule that a return has to be signed under penalties of perjury to be valid.
There is authority for the paper-filing rules that say that a signature is valid if the person signing had the actual authority to sign the return. The IRS memorandum cites a prior court case involving a corporate president and treasurer who signed as the president, even though he was the president and treasurer. So it would seem that the president here could sign the tax return. The IRS memorandum reaches this very conclusion.
But do the old paper-file rules apply to eFiled returns and a signature on an eFile form?
An eFile Form is Different than a Tax Return
Tax returns that are eFiled are not signed by a partner. Instead, the partner signs the eFile authorization form that the tax preparer keeps in their records. That is what the partner described in this IRS memorandum did. He signed the Form 8879.
Sec. 6011(e)(3) does provide for eFiling for a tax return prepared by a tax return preparer. The IRS memorandum notes that defects in the eFile form are of no consequence when evaluating whether the tax return is valid: “a Form 8879-PE is not attached to a return or otherwise filed with the IRS, and its completeness is not part of deeming a return valid.”