is a photocopy of a signed form valid and effective?

a gov form going to a gov agency. photocopy in lieu of a slightly creased original–how do creases affect forms’ effectiveness?

No. Federal government forms that require a signature must have a real signature. No photocopies.

i believe you, but can you cite a statute or internal regulations at places like the ssa, irs, etc.? also, how would the receipient be able to tell? if the original is needed, how does its being creased affect its effectiveness?

I think the OP may be asking a different question than you think: can he photocopy the original (to get rid of the crease) and then sign the copy instead of the original? If that’s the question, it’s a little murkier.

But photocopies don’t look the same, even if you signed in a black pen or used a color copier. The ink is fundamentally different, and the resolution isn’t infinite. You can definitely tell the difference.

It isn’t murkier at all. If the signature is original, it means that the signatory affirms the content. I do my tax returns in pencil 'cause I make lots of changes. When I’ve finished, I make copies, and sign the copy.

The question posed was, “is a photocopy of a signed form valid and effective?” and not, “if I sign a photocopy of a form, is it valid and effective?” The question sounds to me like you sign, then photocopy.

I hope the OP returns to clarify. In 2011 what an “original form” is doesn’t have much meaning since you can print your own tax forms, passport applications, and just about anything else. The government has generally done away with “press hard, you are making six copies” type of forms due to the need to distribute them online.

Whether the government will accept a photocopy, including a photocopied signature, is at the discretion of the agency. Similar for faxed forms. I know of no law or regulation specifically addressing it.

But also, “how do creases affect forms’ effectiveness”. And the answer is not at all. Again, whether to accept a form is at the discretion of the agency. If it’s readable and not in tatters then they’ll probably take it.

yes the question is whether signing then photocopying is acceptable. the form’s instructions say fax is an acceptable mode of transmission–a faxed over copy definitely does not have a pen-inked signature. however, a copy does not alter the content, so the signatory would be affirming the same things. the original is only slightly creased on one side from hanging out of a large book i had been using to support it. a photocopy would definitely be cleaner though.

What is the actual form? There should be a name and/or number someplace on it.

It depends entirely on the form in question. I’ve dealt with government offices for which it was acceptable for me to sign a form, scan it, and send it in by e-mail. On the other extreme, during the election, the returning officer required us to provide a form for every one of our people who was to monitor the voting process, collect voting reports, or watch the ballot count, which worked out to upwards of 300 forms, all of which had to be individually signed by the candidate himself. Sheesh. (One of our incumbents had to sign more than 1,000.) Mercifully, it was at least acceptable to use a photocopy of the form itself, with the candidate and riding name filled in, but each one had to be signed personally.

What government agency is it? The Social Security Administration, for example, generally doesn’t care. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles does. The UK Home Office does.

the agency is the irs. if an irs regulation requirement for inked signature doesnt blanket all forms, more specifics can be provided. however, it is an optional form filed separately from returns–ie, not 1040 941 or anything required.

Then no, at least as of 2000, unless you’re one of several corporate officers or it’s a jurat request.

Google didn’t return anything on the sections of the IRS manual cited in that memorandum, but it seems oddly specific that the writer would qualify the IRS’s policy to reject photocopies “as valid original signatures for a tax return.” However, the form I have in mind is not a tax return, and its instructions specifically say fax is an acceptable method of transmission. In such cases, what prohibition is there against photocopies?

Just wondering, if it’s an IRS form, why don’t you ask the IRS what they would accept? I mean, us anonymous posters can spout off all we want, but in the end the IRS is really the only opinion that counts, right?

Faxes cannot be intercepted and tampered with. Well, not very easily, anyway. That’s the point of the linked memo - the source and recipient of a fax are easy to document.

So that’s why faxes are accepted; what’s it to them whether a photocopy or the original is faxed?

I had two cases where a company (two separate companies) accepted digitally scanned copies of a court order. It was made from an official, stamped copy obtained from the Court Clerk’s office, but the Clerk stamp was hardly visible on the scanned copy, but they accepted it. If they felt I was bullcrapping them and submitting a falsified document, they could have taken a trip downtown to view or get their own official copy, which was, and is public record anyway.