E-Signature dilemma

In conversation with one of our colleagues, one question was discussed:

Situation: e-signature required from different members of a family where only one member has an email address (99% of the time concerning spouses. Any child over 4 has an email address these days).

Possible solutions:

  • Verbal confirmation from each family member to use the “family email address”.

  • Physically signed document from each signee certifying the agreement ( which defeats the e-signature concept)

  • Request each member to get their own email address

  • Rely on secure portals for the send/print/sign/scan/send back (where numerous clients don’t have access to printer/scanner)

  • Rely on Canada Post


There are issues with every one of those possible solutions and they may in fact all be solutions to problems that may not exist?

When a client sends me tax slips for their entire family I don’t generally check with each individual member to confirm I have permission to complete an income tax return for them.

Unless a client walks into your office, produces photo ID and signs their T183 in front of you there is no sure way to know who signed a client’s Income Tax Return. I have mailed out paper copies of T1 returns and received back in the mail signed T183 forms. I can’t be positive the T183’s were signed by the intended taxpayer, but I am comfortable taking that risk. I have one client that might pick up T1 returns for the entire family and then either drop off or mail back signed forms. I can’t be sure who signed the forms, but usually have no reason to suspect they weren’t signed by the appropriate person, or that one spouse fraudulently had a T1 return prepared without their husband or wife’s consent.

From the testing that I have done with TaxFolder, the email address didn’t seem quite as important as having a cell phone which (except for @Arli$$) the majority of our clients normally have. The client’s cell phone number and 2FA was an integral part of the signing process, so even if the client’s share an email address, if they have separate cell numbers they will use their own phone to complete the signing process.

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Sounds adequate to me. Just out of curiosity, do you get some kind of signature confirmation that is associated with the client’s phone # ?
I haven’t experimented with TaxFolder yet as my present e-signature subscription is still valid for another 7 months.
How mine works:
send signature request via email > recipient is requested to fill his/her own unique password to view & sign document (document is not accessible for viewing until this is done) > client “signs” document and sends it back to me > I get confirmation email confirming process is complete where I have to input the unique password to view signed document and associated Audit Report (where the time/date etc… is associated with the email address from original request). All emails attachment are password protected.
Client and I have the option to save said document & report, on our respective system (where each one of us will have to input password to view) or print.

Somehow CRA has a way to find problems with solutions that do exist. :crazy_face:

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We had this discussion with their BN Group during a focus group discussion. They were wrapping themselves in knots trying to figure out how to know “who” signed the T183. I noted that there were MANY cases of paper tax returns being filed, either by preparers or others, with no signature and the Courts have always accepted that the taxpayer was responsible, unless there was verifiable evidence to the contrary.

I know my clients, I trust them. I don’t deal with random members of the public anymore and there are a few I’ve never even met, but I’ve been dealing with them for years.

This is CRA being completely and utterly bureaucratically stupid.


I would like to give you 5 thumbs up for this post.

“cases of paper tax returns being filed”

Aah @SmallBizGuy, but thou speakest of PAPER returns and of Courts, but not of CRA and the privileges they bestow…

Part of the T&Cs for efilers is that:
“Make sure your client completes and signs Form T183, Information Return for Electronic Filing of an Individual’s Income Tax and Benefit Return before transmitting the return”

"Conditions for suspension
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) reserves the right to revoke an electronic filer’s authorization to participate in electronic filing if any one of the following conditions exists:…
…late, missing, illegible, or incomplete T183 forms…"

So do you personally witness each signature on each T183 form @joe.justjoe1?

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I witness ever client signing thier t183

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Such language, however, suffers the fate of NOT being enshrined in the ITA. And, to complicate matters, e-sigs this year (and last) have been subject to administrative variation. I’m happy to “ensure” that they’re signed, and I’m happy to ensure that they are not late, missing, illegible or incomplete. I am however, not willing to be a Nanny for CRA, and hold the client’s hand while signing. And on that point, should I ever be challenged on same, I am more than willing to fight.