Important Note for 2021-22 Only: Beginning July 13, 2021 and for the remainder of the 2021-22 FAFSA processing and verification cycle, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) is waiving verification of FAFSA/ISIR information, except for identity/Statement of Educational Purpose and high school completion status in Verification Tracking Groups V4 and V5. See Dear Colleague Letter GEN-21-05 and AskRegs Q&A, How Do We Implement the Verification Waiver For the Remainder Of 2021-22?, for guidance specific to the waiver. The following guidance is still relevant depending on context and/or application of the waiver.
This AskRegs Q&A was updated on February 22, 2021 to include guidance that was added to Chapter 4 of the Application and Verification Guide volume beginning with the 2021-22 FSA Handbook.
Scenario: Some students and/or parents are unable to: 1) obtain a tax transcript from the IRS; and 2) print/sign/scan the online copy of the tax return that was filed with the IRS and provide a wet signature. Their only option is to provide a stylus signature on the copy of the tax return itself. This has become a huge challenge for our office. It's impacting students and families who do not have a printer/scanner/copier/fax machine in their homes. Students and parents completed their taxes online with TurboTax or some other vendor and they only have the online tax return.
Answer: Yes. According to Chapter 4 of the Application and Verification Guide volume of the FSA Handbook:
"You can accept a paper or electronic copy of the return as long as it contains a signature. Acceptable examples would include, but are not limited to:
However, a signature on Form 8879, the IRS e-file Signature Authorization, is not an acceptable substitute for a signature on the tax return."
Note: This is general verification guidance and not specific to COVID-19, meaning it applies even after the COVID-related qualifying emergency is over. It also applies to the 2020-21 award year.
See also AskRegs Knowledgebase Q&A, Whose Signature Is Required on a Copy of the Tax Return That Is Accepted In Place of a Tax Transcript?
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