Can a Tax Preparer File Your Taxes Without Your Signature?

By Jacqueline DeMarco · April 17, 2023 · 5 minute read

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Can a Tax Preparer File Your Taxes Without Your Signature?

There’s no denying that filing taxes can be stressful, which is why many people turn to a tax preparer to help them navigate the process. This professional can offer extra reassurance that your taxes are filed properly and may even help you maximize your refund.

But can a tax preparer file your taxes without your signature? In short, yes, they can. Keep reading to learn more about signature requirements for tax filing.

What Is a Tax Preparer?

A tax preparer is a certified public accountant (CPA), attorney, enrolled agent, or other professional who is paid to prepare income tax returns for an individual or business. The tax preparer must have an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) in order to prepare federal tax returns.

Tax preparers gain access to very personal information such as income and social security numbers, so this isn’t a relationship you’ll want to enter without careful consideration. Before you hire one, do your research. The IRS provides an online directory where you can find tax preparers who are near you or who have certain qualifications. You may also want to ask trusted friends and family members for referrals.

While many tax preparers can handle different types of taxes, it’s best to confirm that the tax preparer is experienced in the areas you need before hiring them. After all, a small business owner will likely have very different tax needs than an individual filing a W-2.

Recommended: Income Tax: What Is It and How Does It Work?

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What Qualifies as a Signed Tax Return?

Whether you’re preparing for tax season or are in the middle of filing your return, you probably already know how important it is to get your taxes done properly. The final step in the filing process that really can’t be skipped is signing the income tax return. If you file your taxes on your own, you need to sign the tax return. If a tax preparer helps you file your taxes, they need to sign the tax return and include their PTIN. If the return isn’t signed, the IRS won’t consider it valid.

Can a Tax Preparer File Your Taxes Without Your Signature?

Depending on their experience and area of expertise, a tax preparer may be able to offer guidance on different ways to save on taxes or help you make sense of complicated topics like income tax withholding. But these professionals can also offer a degree of convenience by signing a client’s tax return themselves and submitting it without their client’s signature. If you choose to work with a tax preparer, you’ll want to have their signature and PTIN on the tax return as proof that they prepared it.

How Do I Know if My Tax Preparer Filed My Taxes?

Tax preparers can provide peace of mind that your taxes are filed properly and hopefully help you maximize your tax refund and find potential tax breaks, like the earned income tax credit.

But if you’re wondering whether your tax preparer filed your taxes, there are ways to find out. The IRS Where’s My Refund tool , for instance, allows you to check the status of your return. You can also find out this information by calling the IRS directly. And be sure to check your inbox. If your return was filed, you should receive a confirmation and status updates by email, as long as you provided an email address.

Recommended: Guide to Filing Your Taxes for the First Time

Will the IRS Accept an Unsigned Tax Return?

What happens if you submit an income tax return — whether accidentally or on purpose — without any signature on it? The bad news is, the IRS does not accept unsigned income tax returns. The agency typically sends back the tax return with a notice asking you to sign and resubmit the return so it can be processed. If you fail to sign your tax return but file it on time, you likely will not be hit with a delinquency penalty, which can be good news for your budget.

Recommended: What Happens If I Miss the Tax Filing Deadline?

The Takeaway

A tax preparer can help you navigate the tax filing process and, hopefully, maximize your refund. These professionals can also sign your tax return and submit it without your signature, though you may choose to sign it as well. If you want to check the status of your return, you can use the IRS Where’s My Refund tool, call the agency directly, or check your inbox. The IRS typically emails a confirmation and status updates on your return, as long as you provided an email address when you filed.

Of course, hiring a tax preparer isn’t the only way to take control of your finances. SoFi’s money tracker app can also help you stay on track year-round. You can keep tabs on multiple account balances — and your credit scores — in one place. You can also set savings goals and review your spending, so there are no surprises come tax time.

Get the information and tools you need to make the most of your money.


Can a tax preparer e-file your taxes without your signature?

Yes, a tax preparer can e-file a client’s taxes without their signature. The key here is that the tax preparer must sign the income tax return in order for it to be eligible for processing. The tax preparer’s certification number also has to be included on the tax return. If the tax preparer does not sign the income tax return, the taxpayer must sign it before it can be e-filed.

What should you do if a tax preparer files your taxes without your consent?

If you believe a tax preparer filed your taxes without your consent, you should report it to the IRS using Form 14157-A, Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit.

Will the IRS accept an unsigned tax return?

No, the IRS will not accept an unsigned income tax return as they don’t consider it valid. If someone tries to file an unsigned tax return, the IRS will send it back and request a signature. The taxpayer or their tax preparer must sign the income tax return for it to be valid.

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