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Noonan’s Notes Blog is written by a team of Hodgson Russ tax attorneys led by the blog’s namesake, Tim Noonan. Noonan’s Notes Blog regularly provides analysis of and commentary on developments in the world of New York and multistate tax law. Noonan's Notes Blog is a winner of CreditDonkey's Best Tax Blogs Award 2017.

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New York Governor Extends Digital Signature Authorization

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About a month ago we talked about Executor Order 202.15 from New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo, which authorized the NYS Tax Department to begin accepting digital signatures on various tax documents related to determining and collecting tax liabilities, but deferred to the Department to issue guidance implementing the particulars. Soon after, the NYS Tax Department issued Notice N-20-3, which addressed various aspects of the new digital signature authorization including the expiration date on May 9, 2020 which appeared in both the Notice and in Executor Order 202.15. Last week, however, a newly-issued Executive Order 202.31 extended the Tax Department’s authority to accept digital signatures “for the duration of the disaster emergency.” 

And there’s more! Yesterday the Tax Department issued Notice N-20-5 which states that, at least for now, the Department will only be accepting digital signatures “until July 15, 2020” and that the Department will then revisit the issue to “determine whether there is a continuing need to allow for the acceptance of digital signatures due to the COVID-19 State emergency.”

The NYS Society of CPAs has been tirelessly advocating to permanently suspend the “wet signature” requirement for New York State tax returns and this temporary measure furthers that goal for the short term.

We certainly agree with the extension and have appreciated the efficiency of being able to digitally sign just about everything other than a Power of Attorney, but this begs a few questions: Did we really need a pandemic for this? Isn’t the “wet signature” requirement a bit antiquated?  And should this be made permanent, at least in some capacity?

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