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As an example, the instructions for Form 83(b) state that:

Once you have completed the form, please sign it and mail a copy to your IRS Service Center and to your employer. Also, be sure to retain a copy for your taxes.

But what if you don't physically sign it but rather place an electronic copy of your signature inside the document, generate a PDF and then mail it online via a service like LetterStream that can print out the PDF and physically mail it for you? Is the IRS allowed to refuse accepting the document just because it hasn't been physically signed with a pen and paper?

I'm giving out Form 83(b) as an example but presumably similar rules should apply to all federal agencies.

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15 USC 7001 (the eSign Act) provides that:

(a) In general

Notwithstanding any statute, regulation, or other rule of law (other than this subchapter and subchapter II), with respect to any transaction in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce—

(1) a signature, contract, or other record relating to such transaction may not be denied legal effect, validity, or enforceability solely because it is in electronic form; and

(2) a contract relating to such transaction may not be denied legal effect, validity, or enforceability solely because an electronic signature or electronic record was used in its formation.

(b) Preservation of rights and obligationsThis subchapter does not—

(1) limit, alter, or otherwise affect any requirement imposed by a statute, regulation, or rule of law relating to the rights and obligations of persons under such statute, regulation, or rule of law other than a requirement that contracts or other records be written, signed, or in nonelectronic form; or

(2) require any person to agree to use or accept electronic records or electronic signatures, other than a governmental agency with respect to a record other than a contract to which it is a party.

However, 15 USC 7004 provides that:

(a) Filing and access requirements

Subject to subsection (c)(2), nothing in this subchapter limits or supersedes any requirement by a Federal regulatory agency, self-regulatory organization, or State regulatory agency that records be filed with such agency or organization in accordance with specified standards or formats.

There are some limitations under 15 USC 7004 (b) (2)

In short one should be able to submit such forms electronically, but there may be a specific format required, and a PDF of a scan of a paper form may not be accepted. One would need to inquiry of the particular agency involved, in this case the IRS, what format or formats will be accepted.

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  • To clarify, LetterStream will physically print out the PDF and send it in the mail. But it wouldn't be your "wet" signature. Apr 24, 2021 at 23:10

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