I see that both Taxcycle and DocuSign are now saying that electronic signatures are allowed on forms (except T183). Does anyone have a CRA source for this? I would love for it to be true, but I don’t see anything on the CRA website that confirms digital signatures are allowed in these instances.
CRA + Electronic Signatures
CPA Alberta + CRA 2017 Round Table
Q6. Electronic Signatures (Plenary)
While the CRA has been making great strides in its digital services area, allowing a number of forms to be completed and submitted on-line with a “tick-the-box” certification, and with NO SIGNATURE required to accompany the form (e.g. GST return), there appears to be a reluctance to allow electronic signatures on forms generally, other than a several non-resident forms (NR301, NR203, NR303). The CRA website states that if a fillable PDF form requires a signature, “the completed form must be printed and signed by hand”.
We assume that the CRA accepting electronic signatures on certain non-resident forms is an acknowledgement that the non-residents are outside Canada, and therefore this policy will facilitate completion of the forms by the non-resident. However, it is not uncommon that Canadian taxpayers are out of the country at the time that a signature is required on tax documentsbeing prepared in Canada by their tax professional and they may not readily be able to return the signed document.
As you are aware, currently, there are two methods that allow for documents to be signed electronically:
1.a signature is placed on a PDF document, either by the person adding a picture of their actual signature to the document, or by drawing their signature on the PDF document using a mouse or other digital tool; and
2.a signature is either “drawn” or “written”onto a PDF document using one of various commercial products (e.g.Adobe Sign, Citrix RightSignature, DocuSign, etc. etc.) which typically provide an signature “certificate” containing time tracking and other metadata relative to the person who applied their signature to the document.
This problem is particularly relevant with respect to T183, T1013 and RC59 forms, which are often time-sensitive and which generally must be retained on file by the taxpayer’s representative, to prove that they have the requisite authority to file tax returns or access client data held by the CRA.
Does the CRA have any timelines of when it will permit the use of electronic signatures for CRA forms? Canada Revenue Agency
The CRA is committed to developing strategies to enhance its digital services, while ensuring we safeguard confidential personal information. The CRA recognizes the growing interest to be able to accept digitally-signed documents, and is currently in the process of exploring the possibility of accepting digital and/or electronic signatures.
However, in the absence of an electronic signature policy at this time, taxpayers can also grant their representative immediate authorization through the My Account or the My Business Account secure portal without an ink signature (Form T1013 and RC59). After logging into My Account or My Business Account, they can grant you authorization using the “Manage representatives” service
Government of Canada + Electronic Signatures in general
Secure Electronic Signature Regulations
Additional e-Signature references.
Current State of e-Signatures
Current Digital Workflow Project
National Digital and Data Consultations
Closed on 2017-10-12
Digital innovation leaders hosted roundtable discussions in cities across Canada with business, academia, civil society and others. Because there is strength in our diversity, the roundtables included women, Indigenous peoples and other under-represented groups.
Minister Navdeep Bains hosted the first roundtable in Ottawa on June 19, 2018. Subsequent cross-Canada roundtables took place in select locations, including Vancouver, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, Waterloo, Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, Québec, Fredericton, Charlottetown, Halifax, St. John’s and Whitehorse. There was also a roundtable in Silicon Valley in the United States. The final roundtable took place on September 21.
We still want to hear from you. Please share your views via the links above.
- Digital innovation leaders
- Positioning Canada to Lead in a Digital- and Data-driven Economy: Discussion Paper
A possible work around?
Real Estate Investor Blog
No printing required: How to sign your tax “paperwork” digitally
Posted on: July 7th, 2014 by Real Estate Accountants 1 Comment
Many of our clients have moved to sending and receiving all of their “paperwork”, such as tax returns, financial statements, and bookkeeping, electronically through our secure client portal. However, we often need signed documents back from you, which allows us to efile returns, for example, or communicate with the Canada Revenue Agency on your behalf. This means the documents need your unique signature. (Signing with a script font doesn’t count – the CRA has audited this for us before and noted that these types of signatures are invalid.)
So, what is the easiest way to sign documents from the portal without actually printing them? What we have found to be the most effective is using the signing feature in Adobe Reader. It’s quick and easy, and saves on trees.
I really wish that Benson Seymour LLP article linked to their source. It’s the same article that DocuSign sent me when I asked them!
I’ve read over everything here and I still don’t see where DocuSign and TaxCycle are getting their info from. TaxCycle posted about this in December 2018 so surely there is something more recent?
The short answer is that CRA has not posted an e-Signature policy statement on their website because there is no Federal Government approved e-Signature policy for the T183 at this time.
New Cyber and IT Agencies and Programs are under way. The CRA program, the Registration of Tax Preparer Program (RTPP), which was initiated under the Harper government as part of the OECD Tax Residency and OECD sharing of Tax Information rollout, was abandoned by the Trudeau government. The RTPP was to give accountability, training, and enforcement of accuracy and tax compliance down to the individual tax preparer level in order the significantly reduce the errors and omissions currently experienced. Without a systematic approach to a Third Party Liability enforcement program I doubt that CRA will be fast tracking the adoption of e-Signatures in the very near future. In addition, there are new government agencies whose input must be considered. In the meantime there are several digital initiatives which have already requested input. Please find details below. Also the IRS has had a difficult and challenging record with hacking of accounts and fraudulent tax returns. This will likely give rise to even more caution and co-ordinated control across all federal government departments and agencies. These are under way in various consultations and studies.
# Registration of Tax Preparers Program (RTPP)
“As governments throughout the world review their processes to determine better ways to reduce non-compliance, a greater emphasis is being placed on the important role played by tax preparers. Recent studies Footnote 1 released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) analyze the important role that tax preparers play in tax compliance throughout the world and encourage tax administrations to consider strategies that build on their relationships with tax preparers. While the CRA has been moving to develop improved processes for tax preparers, for example, by improving its electronic services available to them, the CRA is now considering a more systematic approach to its relationship with tax preparers. This would, in turn, influence the CRA’s approach for improving compliance.”
IRS + IRS Enrolled Agents
The IRS is much further along in digital workflows and digital capabilities including - eSignatures, Certified IRS tax preparers under the Enrolled Agent Program, IRS downloads to Enrolled Agents, and IRS downloads to third party apps such a Canopy Tax for Tax Resolution submissions.
IRS Tax Preparers have been hacked a part of the IRS Enrolled Agent Program for Certified IRS Tax Preparers.
Digital innovation leaders + Positioning Canada to Lead in a Digital- and Data-drive Economy
CRA is currently studying the implementation of Digital Services and E-Services through two separate but related projects:-
- Digital innovation leaders, and
- Positioning Canada to Lead in a Digital- and Data-drive Economy.
Canadian Centre for Cyber Security
As a result of the 2016 Cyber Review Consultations, led by Public Safety, on October 1, 2018, the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security was established to Canadian Centre for Cyber Security to consolidating the key cyber security operational units of the Government of Canada into a single new cyber security centre.
- February 27, 2018: Announcement of the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security in Budget 2018
- June 2018 : Announcement of the first head of the Cyber Centre
- Fall 2018: Initial Operational Capability of the Cyber Centre
- Summer 2019: Opening of the new facility for the Cyber Centre
- Spring 2020: Full Operational Capability for the Cyber Centre
Shared Services Canada (SSC)
Since 2011 the Government of Canada has been moving the entire Government Computing Infrastructure from each department and agency to a centralized department.
As part of this initiative, SSC is:
- consolidating over 700 legacy data centres into fewer enterprise data centres
- reducing the Government of Canada carbon footprint by reducing data centre space and establishing state-of-the-art data centres with built-in green technology and energy efficiency
- leveraging faster, better, and more secure technology to protect against physical and cyber threats
Google to the rescue…
Note: Electronic or digital signatures that are obtained through the use of signature software, as well as the use of signature labels or stamps, are not acceptable on Form T183. A signature by someone other than the taxpayer, the trustee, or the legal representative, is acceptable as long as an applicable power of attorney exists. If a power of attorney exists, this must be retained with the T183 form for at least six years following the date the return was electronically filed.
The entries on Form T183 must accurately reflect the entries on the electronic return. If the return is not accepted as originally transmitted, and the changes required for retransmission alter the refund or balance owing by more than $300, a new Form T183 must be completed and signed by the client.
Retention of documents
As required by subsection 150.1(4) of the Income Tax Act, both you and your client have to keep a copy of the completed signed Form T183. Instruct your client not to submit the form unless we ask for it. Keep your copy in a secure location.
Form T183 must be kept for at least six years following the date that the return was electronically filed. Written permission is required for you or your client to destroy Form T183 before the six-year period is up. For more information, see Information Circular IC78–10R5, Books and Records Retention/Disposal.
Did you know that electronic filers can now scan T183 forms for retention?
Electronic filers can now keep a scanned version of the original T183 form signed by the taxpayer. If an electronic filer chooses to retain scanned versions of these forms, they must adhere to the requirements of Section 230 of the Income Tax Act by ensuring a minimum level of resolution in an electronically readable format, as the scanned version is considered a “record”. Electronic filers must ensure that the manner of storage does not in any way change the information contained in the signed version of the T183 form provided by the taxpayer. The electronic filer and the taxpayer must retain either a scanned or paper version of the T183 form for six years from the end of the taxation year that the form relates to.
This message from CRA specifically states that electronic signatures are not allowed on T183s. But it seems like a huge leap to use this as justification that electronic signatures are allowed on other forms.
I’m not trying to be contradictory; I’m just trying to be certain this is allowed before changing my firms policies.
Interesting topic. I’m waiting for someone to challenge this at Court, if “sanctioned” by CRA. Why? Because many, many cases of returns being filed in paper format, unsigned by the taxpayer have nonetheless been held by Courts to have been “filed with the taxpayer’s knowledge and consent” regardless of the fact that they were unsigned.
There is no legal reason to believe that the filing of an electronic return, similar in substance to the old paper returns, should be treated any differently.
Time will tell.