Earlier in the week IRD released a standard relating to the use of a valid signature for documents that are provided to IRD. Given the change in business practices and the emergence of ecommerce and increased number of online transactions this will be a timely reminder for all.
IRD have said that they will accept an electronic signature on all documents that currently require a conventional signature, where this option is specified in the relevant document or associated guidelines.
It is further confirmed that an electronic signature can only be used when submitting documents to IRD via online services; or by using software that complies with the requirements set out in this standard.
This has the feel of something moving very slowly and is in contrast with the rest of IRD thinking regarding online filing. In a time where the Department are actively pushing to have more real time information via online filing, it seems inconsistent to then only accept electronic signatures in specific cases.
It has long been the case in other areas of the digital world that acceptance of terms and conditions can be via a simple tick of a box. Therefore, it is again inconsistent that IRD are only comfortable accepting electronic signatures for only some documents.
The statement does provide some guidance in relation to authenticity and consent requirements of the signatory. Safeguards are also required in relation to third party software to ensure integrity and safety is maintained.
The standard can be found on the IRD website for those interested in the detail.