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HMRC accepting electronic signatures on some forms

23 February 2021: HMRC now accepts digital signatures on agent authorisation forms, claims for the marriage allowance and employment expenses. ICAEW’s Tax Faculty highlights the change and other points covered in HMRC’s latest agent update.

In Agent Update 82, published on 17 February, HMRC confirmed that it will now accept electronic signatures for:

Signatures must be either signed on the screen of a digital device or displayed in a keyboard-typed font, and to be valid, the taxpayer must have provided the signature themselves.

HMRC confirms that where it has “legitimate reasons” to doubt that the taxpayer has provided the signature it will “seek assurances from the agent or request further information about the processes that the agent uses”. Documents where the taxpayer did not place the signature themselves will be invalid.

Original ‘wet’ signatures are still required on all other income tax claims and paper tax returns. This includes SA700 and SA900 returns. HMRC has declined a request from professional bodies for an easement on these forms.

The temporary COVID-19 related easements for inheritance tax forms continue.

Other highlights from Agent Update 82

The update provided links to guidance on the new payment scheme for deferred VAT which opened for applications on 23 February 2021 and will close on 21 June 2021, as well as on mandatory disclosure rules and DAC 6. It also highlighted its efforts to reduce research and development fraud and error.

Update 82 included reminders of imminent changes, such as the introduction of:

HMRC also highlights that agents can support the testing of a new user interface for corporate interest restriction returns and the extension of the trust registration service to non-taxpaying trusts.

An update on the agent forum is also included and ICAEW’s Tax Faculty encourages members in practice to use the forum to highlight widespread issues.