How to Sign Documents

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Electronic signatures have been recognized by law in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia since the early 2000s. An e-signature is just as valid as a regular signature on paper. This means you no longer need to take time from your busy schedule to drop by your accountant’s office or to snail-mail. Instead, sign any document directly on your client portal.

If a document needs your e-signature, a notification on your dashboard lets you know. Click it to review the doc.

All documents needing signatures are displayed in Documents in the Waiting for action section.

In Documents, you’ll see...

  • NAME: the document’s name
  • STATUS: the document’s status

E-Signing Firm-Prepared Documents

To review and sign a document:

1. Click on the pencil icon to the far right of the document’s name.

2. Review the content, then click the fields to e-sign where requested. A Fields to fill counter at the top helps you along. Enter your signature and initials just once; they’re then used for subsequent documents.

3. Click Next to highlight the next field. Note: You cannot sign a document until all fields are filled in.

4. Once all fields are filled in, click FINISH. If your accountant has requested KBA, click FINISH WITH KBA. Answer the questions to verify your identity, then click FINISH. You get two attempts for KBA and need to answer at least three out of five questions correctly.

You’ll see a notification at the top of the page when the document has been successfully signed.

Don’t want to sign? Click Decline to sign, and then confirm by clicking OPT OUT OF ELECTRONIC SIGNATURE. Get in touch with the firm to discuss other options.

Editing Your E-Signature

Once you sign and initial a document, your e-signature and initials are used in subsequent docs when you click on the required fields.

If you want to edit your initials or signature, click in the required field, make your changes, then press Insert.

Toggle on Insert everywhere if you want to update the signature or initials everywhere on the doc.

Adding a Handwritten Signature

Not everyone accepts typed signatures, but you can alway create a handwritten one:

1. Click the My signature or Initials field.

2. Switch to the Draw tab, then sign using your finger on your mouse pad or by using your mouse.

3. Click Insert.

If you want to redo the signature, click Clear while editing and sign again.

Toggle on Insert everywhere if you want to insert your written signature or initials everywhere on the doc.

E-signature with Knowledge-based authentication (KBA)

KBA or Knowledge Based Authentication is the identity verification process that the IRS requires to electronically sign Form 8879.

KBA is only possible with a social security number (SSN) - not ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number). ITINs are issued to an individual for taxation purposes only. ITINs are not meant to be used as identification for obtaining credit. Credit systems won’t recognize them as anything other than an incorrect SSN, so they cannot be used for KBA.

The Knowledge-based Authentication (KBA) questions are generated from public databases and the financial history of the signer. To make KBA a reliable method of verifying identity and keeping confidential data secure, various safeguards have been built into the KBA process. These safeguards can sometimes prevent some signers from completing a KBA. On rare occasions, the information in the public databases is incorrect and the signer is not able to provide matching responses. Various KBA studies indicate that the average success rate for the KBA is around 90%.

Some reasons why signers may not be able to complete the KBA process are (but are not limited to):

  • A newly married taxpayer whose public records use their maiden names and previous addresses.
  • The information in public records may be incorrect and our software may not be able to match this information in the return.
  • The information in the public databases may be incorrect and your client may be unable to answer those questions.
  • Young clients or clients who have recently moved to the U.S. may not be good candidates for Form 8879 eSign since a successful KBA may not be possible if they have limited public records.

The Document Is Pending E-Signature, but There Are No Signature Fields

If a document is pending signature, but there are no e-signature fields, either you don’t need to sign it or you must access the same account from another linked email address (for more details, go here).

Sometimes a preparer needs signatures from both account users (e.g., spouses) or just one. If a signature was requested from the other user, and they haven’t signed yet, you won’t see any e-signature fields on your end. The document will remain in Pending E-Signature status until the other user has signed.

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