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Testing Instructions for New ExSTARS Participants

November, 2010 (ExSTARS Version 2.2.4 ANSI ASC X12 Version 4030)

General Information

Electronic Participants (including registered terminal/facility operators, pipeline carriers, ship carriers, and barge carriers) are required to test their EDI process for the electronic filing of information returns. The following instructions are designed to provide the Electronic Participants the necessary information to test their electronic filing process. A test process has been established that exchanges test and feedback files that are processed prior to submitting electronic production files.

Terminal Operator

Please note - important! Due to the requirement for submitting "balanced" monthly transaction reports as outlined in the IRS ExSTARS EDI Implementation Guide (IRS Publication 3536 Rev 3-2010), a terminal operator must submit a physical ending inventory for the month prior to the date of reporting. This is conveyed through the use of the Beginning Inventory (BI) qualifier in the FGS segment of the TFS summary information loop ( TFS01="T2"). The beginning inventory for each product code reported must be provided for the first month of reporting in both testing and production EDI submissions.

If you do not report the beginning inventories for each product reported, ExSTARS will assume a beginning inventory of "zero" (0) gallons and may cause your monthly filing to be "out-of-balance", causing the file to be rejected. Once you have submitted a beginning inventory for a product code, you will no longer need to furnish a beginning inventory for that same product code. If you attempt to submit at a later date another beginning inventory for a product code for which you have already reported a beginning inventory, any subsequent beginning inventory you report will be ignored. The ending inventory by product code from the last month of reported activity for that product code will always be carried forward as the next reporting month’s beginning inventory.

If you have product codes that have not been previously inventoried at your terminal and were never reported in any of your previous ExSTARS EDI Version 4030 format terminal operator reports, you will need to provide a beginning inventory of "zero" for the first month of any receipt of that product code into your terminal. After providing that initial beginning inventory of "zero", you will not need to provide a beginning inventory for any subsequent reporting periods.

For example: If you are required to file an October report electronically, you must submit the ending inventory for the month of September in the new EDI Version 4030 format found in the IRS ExSTARS EDI Implementation Guide (IRS Publication 3536 Rev 3-2010). The ending inventory for September will be the beginning inventory for October. The October terminal operator report is due November 30.

Carrier

A petroleum carrier required to file reports electronically must submit the information one month after the close of business for the file month.

For example: The October report is due November 30.

Test Files

Carriers and terminal operators will be required to file their reports in the EDI format. These reports will contain all of the detail for each shipment for the month the Information Provider is required to file. In order to ensure the quality of the information obtained from this filing requirement, the IRS will subject the information received to a set of tests. These tests will help guarantee that the information submitted is useful.

Prior to the first production filing date, the terminal operators and petroleum carriers will have to submit test files to the IRS for validation. The IRS will process the test files through a translator to make sure that the information provider's EDI files adhere to the IRS mapping requirements and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) X12 standards.

The T/P Indicator

The IRS will utilize the Test/Production indicator as part of the electronic file. A description of this indicator can be found in the IRS EDI Implementation Guide. When submitting test files, you must set the ISA15 element to "T" for Test Data.

Testing: Testing shall be comprised of the following processes:

  1. connectivity testing
  2. EDI structure/syntax translation and data validation testing
  3. data error correction testing including testing replacement files
  4. production data monitoring.

The EDI testing requirements are provided for a variety of scenarios that are detailed in Table 1. The time required to complete the testing will vary by trading partner dependant on the success of initial translation maps and data quality. When setting up for testing, the trading partner should have staff dedicated to complete the testing cycle in an expeditious manner enabling a quick move to production.

Testing Prerequisites

Before sending test files for validation, all participants must complete the following steps:

  • Complete and submit the required Letter of Application (LOA) paperwork to the IRS.
  • Read and understand the IRS Publication 3536 Excise Tax EDI Guide (Rev. 3 - 2010) to gain an understanding of the approved implementation convention that will be used during testing and for the ExSTARS production environment.
  • Complete internal testing.
  • Take all necessary precautions to ensure that production and test EDI transactions cannot be mixed.
  • Understand the filename convention requirements for test and production files uploaded to ExSTARS:

All files submitted to ExSTARS should be named using the following naming convention:

‘Name Control’_’ Sender-ID’_‘transaction set type(i.e. 813)’_‘period being filed (formatted mmccyy)’_‘’T’est or ’P’roduction’_‘qualifier from BTI13 or BTI14("00" original, "6S" supplemental, "6R" replacement, "CO" correction) followed by the extension ‘.edi’.

Example: EXCI_85966953520000_813_052011_T_00.edi

NOTE: File names cannot contain spaces or special characters and the file extension should always be ‘.edi’. File names that contain spaces or special characters will not process and you will not receive any acknowledgement files.

How to Make Testing Arrangements with IRS ExSTARS

In response to an approved Letter of Application (LOA), the IRS will provide to the participant the following:

  • Test Package including qualification testing instructions;
  • User-ID and Password for system access;
  • Verification of LOA information submitted;
  • IRS-provided 10-character Authorization Code (ISA02) and
  • Acknowledgment of Receipt Forms

Upon returning to the IRS the signed Acknowledgment of Receipt Forms with the company’s 10-digit Authorization Code, you will be entered into the ExSTARS Letter of Application database.

The company can then submit the FAX described below to signify they are prepared to begin testing. The IRS ExSTARS EDI Helpdesk will contact the Electronic Participant to begin testing. When prepared to initiate testing send a fax to:

Attn: IRS - Excise at (216) 898-6567 (not a toll-free number.)

Include the following information on your FAX cover sheet:

  • Company Name;
  • EDI Contact Name;
  • EDI Contact Phone Number;
  • EDI Contact Email;

NOTE: This FAX is the document that starts the ExSTARS testing process. Uploading files without the FAX contact sheet will not get the process started.

Connectivity Testing

This is the initial step that will ensure the ability to transmit and receive electronic files with IRS Excise. All data submitted to or received from IRS Excise will be transmitted using Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption and processed by the IRS Excise ExSTARS system. Instructions for accessing the IRS ExSTARS Web site along with uploading and downloading files have been provided as a separate attachment along with this set of test packet instructions.

  1. Connect to the ExSTARS Web site and download the LOA verification document.

    When participants initially connect to the ExSTARS Web site, there will be a file called "Welcome Letter.doc" already placed in the download directory. Download this file and follow the directions for completing the information which will be used to establish your trading partner profile. This information should match the information submitted with your Letter of Application to the IRS. Complete and fax this form to:

     

    Attn: IRS - Excise at (216) 898-6567 (not a toll-free number.)

    Also include the following information on your FAX cover sheet:

    • Company Name;
    • EDI Contact Name;
    • EDI Contact Phone Number;
    • EDI Contact Email

    Once this trading partner profile has been received and entered into the EDI trading partner database you will be notified via email that ExSTARS is ready to accept your first test file.

  2. Upload an EDI file to ExSTARS.

    All files submitted to ExSTARS should be named using the following naming convention: NOTE: File names may not contain spaces or special characters and the file extension should always be ‘.edi’.

    ‘Name Control’_’ Sender-ID’_‘transaction set number(i.e. 813)’_‘period being filed (formatted mmccyy)’_‘’T’est or’P’roduction’_‘qualifier from BTI13 or BTI14 followed by the extension ‘.edi’.

    Example: EXST_757654321000000_813_042011_T_00.edi

    If you experience difficulty logging into ExSTARS, please email the IRS ExSTARS Help Desk at:sbse.excise.exstars@irs.gov and provide your name, ExSTARS logon user ID, company name and telephone number. If you are unable to email the helpdesk you can also call (859) 669-5352 (not a toll free call) for assistance.

    Success for this phase of the testing process is determined to be:

    • The ability of the IRS ExSTARS system to process an EDI file from the participant’s upload directory and successfully generate the acknowledgment files based on an accurate trading partner profile as verified in the test qualification connectivity phase, and the corresponding data elements in the trading partner’s envelope and header segments of their EDI test file.
    • The participant’s ability to successfully retrieve acknowledgment files from their ExSTARS download directory and open, read and understand the acknowledgment files content.

    Once connectivity has been established and the method for the uploading and downloading of these files has become familiar, it is time to progress to the next step of EDI qualification testing.

EDI Structure/Syntax Translation and Data Validation Testing

This phase of the testing process will be used to verify that the structure/syntax contained in the EDI files submitted by the information provider/transmitter is sound and that the data content contained in the files is valid. The files will need to be compliant with EDI ANSI ASC X12 Version 4030 and the IRS ExSTARS Publication 3536 (Rev 3-2010) Excise Tax EDI Guide guidelines. Items such as field length, loop structures and use of supplied ID qualifier codes will be checked during this phase. Data validity is also checked during this phase. Items such as validation of FEIN numbers, FCN/TCN numbers, 637 registration numbers, product codes, and state code abbreviations along with out-of-balance conditions, total net reported, and total net transported valuations will be checked. Data is also reviewed in terms of the reporting of actual fuel movement inventory transactions as opposed to "book inventory" accounting transactions. ExSTARS is a physical inventory system, and accounting transactions should not be reported 11/30/2010 Test Packet Instructions V2.2.4

(e.g. zero gallon transactions or negative gallon ending inventories). Information providers should use actual FEIN, FCN/TCN and 637 registration numbers in their test files. Transmitters may utilize fictitious FEIN and 637 numbers (e.g. all 9s) in their transaction sets for testing purposes. The files may be derived from current or historical data and should be information that is representative of a filing period.

  1. Submit three consecutive months of original (BTI13 = ‘00’) 813 transaction sets. Participants submit an original 813 filing for three consecutive periods (do not submit the current month as your first month of testing or you will be unable to submit three consecutive months of data). It is imperative that you submit one month at a time, waiting for the acknowledgment files in your download directory in order to identify any structure of data errors in your file. NEVER submit multiple months of test or production files at the same time. If you are submitting a terminal operator report, in the first filing period you must submit beginning inventory amounts for each product code at each terminal in order to achieve a "balanced" file. Please note - Important! If you do not submit beginning inventories, the ExSTARS system will assume a beginning inventory of "zero" for each product code in the initial filing period that is reported without a beginning inventory amount. After the first month’s filing has been accepted without any remaining errors, the ending inventory for each product code at each terminal will be carried forward as the beginning inventory for the next month that that product code is reported at that terminal, regardless if beginning inventories are reported in subsequent filing periods.

    Because all data errors must be resolved before the next period filing will be accepted, it may be necessary to contact the ExSTARS EDI Helpdesk to identify data errors such as FEINs that are either not valid or are valid and not present on the ExSTARS data validation tables. The ExSTARS EDI Helpdesk can resolve data errors for test files and during the testing phase, but information providers must correct all outstanding data errors with EDI files when they are in production. Telephone and email contact information for the ExSTARS EDI Helpdesk will be provided when the information provider/transmitter is contacted during Phase I of qualification testing that ExSTARS is ready to accept their first EDI test file.

  2. Submit Paper Summary Reports for the three consecutive months of original test files The Information Provider will be required to submit paper summary reports containing the same information as found on Form 720-TO and/or Form 720-CS, without Schedules A & B, summarizing the detail information contained in each monthly original test file, as if you were filing on paper. This information is used to verify the data transmitted in the EDI files.

    • If you are reporting as a terminal operator your report should summarize the receipts into and disbursements out of the terminal by product. The beginning inventory, ending inventory and any gains or losses by product should also be included as part of the summary report.
    • If you are reporting as a petroleum carrier your report should summarize carrier receipts and carrier disbursements by each product code received from and delivered to a terminal.
    • If you are filing a combined reports as a terminal operator and a petroleum carrier, your report should summarize the receipts into and disbursements out of the terminal by product. The beginning inventory, ending inventory and any gains or losses by product should also be included as part of the summary report. Your report should also summarize carrier receipts and carrier disbursements by each product code received from and delivered to a terminal.

    Success for this phase of the testing process is determined to be:

    • The participant’s ability to successfully submit three consecutive filing periods of original (BTI13 = ‘00’) 813 transaction sets to ExSTARS that process without any outstanding syntax or data errors identified in their 997 and 151 acknowledgment files
    • The participant’s ability to download and translate 997 and 151 acknowledgement transaction sets, and take appropriate actions, as needed, dependant on any errors that might have been identified within the 997 and 151 acknowledgment transaction sets
    • The participant’s ability to download and understand 151 acknowledgments in .txt format, and if filing a terminal operator report the ability to download and understand the Terminal Inventory Report (TIR.txt) and take appropriate actions, as needed to correct any inventory issues identified in their TIR.txt file or data errors identified in their 151.txt acknowledgment files
    • The summary 720 paper report information submitted for the three months of testing coincides with the gallon amounts submitted in the three months of EDI test files

    Each qualification testing phase may also be utilized on request by production ExSTARS participants to test changes in application files and software, user programs, EDI software, backup procedures, and exception processing by both the Information Provider/Transmitter and IRS. If an Information Provider or Transmitter desires to conduct additional testing that might be required due to internal information system changes, new transaction functionality, change of terminals being reported or other reasons after they have completed their Version 4030 Data Error Correction Testing phase, contact the ExSTARS EDI Helpdesk in order to initiate additional testing.

Data Error Correction Testing

This phase of the qualification testing process will be used to verify that the information provider/transmitter is capable of correcting data errors that are identified in the 151 acknowledgment files generated in response to the submission of 813 transaction sets. These data errors must be corrected through the submission of error correction files where the BTI14 value = ‘6R’ (replacement file) and optionally ‘CO’ (correction file), but all information providers/transmitters must be capable of correcting must fix data errors with a replacement (‘6R") file.

In addition, information providers/transmitters in either test or production status that plan to or are required to submit supplemental files must also participate in supplemental file qualification testing. They must demonstrate their ability to amend previous filings that were accepted as completed without data errors, but contained erroneous information (e.g. a valid but incorrect position holder or a valid but incorrect carrier FEIN, or transactions that reported a valid but incorrect product code). These data "mistakes" must be amended through the use of supplemental files where the BTI14 value = ‘6S’ (supplemental file). Supplemental files are also used to report transaction activity that is older than 365 days from the period end date of the current filing month 11/30/2010 Test Packet Instructions V2.2.4

For the data error correction qualification testing phase the electronic participant must utilize the replacement method of data error correction using correction (BTI14= ‘6R’) and optionally the correction (BTI14= ‘CO’) files to resolve all outstanding data errors for a filing period.

  1. Using the last test file of the three months of data successfully submitted in Phase II, the ExSTARS EDI Helpdesk will intentionally introduce a set of data errors and re-submit that original complete test file with the introduced errors that must be corrected. These data errors might typically include invalid FEINs, invalid state abbreviation codes, invalid transaction dates and missing bill of lading/ticket number/document number information for individual receipt/disbursement transactions.
  2. The information provider/transmitter will receive, download and process the 997 Functional Acknowledgment and the 151 Data Acknowledgment. ExSTARS will process the 813 original file containing the data errors as outlined in Step 1 and generate to the participant a 997 Functional Acknowledgment transaction set, a 151 Electronic Filing of Tax Return Data Acknowledgment EDI transaction set, a 151 data acknowledgment in text format, and if the information provider is a terminal operator a Terminal Inventory Report text file.
  3. Submit an 813 error replacement test file (BTI14 = ‘6R’) containing all corrected data for the errors identified in the 151 Data Acknowledgment, and optionally repeat steps 1-2 and then submit an 813 replacement test (BTI14= ‘CO’) containing all corrected data for the errors identified in the 151 Data Acknowledgment. The replacement file (BTI14= ‘6R’) deletes all previously submitted data sent in the original file (BTI13= ‘00’) for the filing period when the "must fix" data errors were generated, and then is processed in a manner that is similar to an original file. If there are any must fix data errors resulting from the submission of a replacement (BTI14= ‘6R’) these errors must be resolved before the filing period is complete and before an original file for the next filing period can be submitted. Whether error correction is accomplished through the use of a correction or replacement file, all outstanding "must fix" errors for the filing period must be resolved before that period’s filing is acknowledged as complete and the information provider can submit and original file for the subsequent month.
  4. The information provider/transmitter will receive, download, and process the 997 Functional Acknowledgment and a 151 Data Acknowledgment. ExSTARS will process the 813 error replacement and optional correction files submitted in Step 3 that are intended to correct all of the outstanding "must fix" the data errors that were identified in the 151 acknowledgment files in Step 2; and will then generate the corresponding 997 and 151 data acknowledgments, and if the information provider is a terminal operator a Terminal Inventory Report text. The goal of this Step is to receive a 151 text data acknowledgment or in the PBI06 data element of the 151 EDI data acknowledgments file that states: "There are no open errors; this period’s filing is complete."
  5. If there are still "must fix" data errors identified in the 151 Data Acknowledgment files from Step 4, repeat Steps 3 through 5. Steps 3 through 5 will be repeated until the desired results have been achieved. The goal of this Step is to receive a 151 text data acknowledgment or in the PBI06 data element of the 151 EDI data acknowledgments file that states: "There are no open errors; this period’s filing is complete."

Success for this phase of the testing process is determined to be:

  • The participant’s ability to download and translate 997 and 151 acknowledgement transaction sets, and take appropriate actions, as needed, dependant on any data errors that might have been identified within the 151 acknowledgment transaction sets
  • The participant’s ability to successfully submit replacement (BTI14 = ‘6R’) 813 transaction sets and optionally correction (BTI14= ‘CO’) 813 transaction sets to identify and correct any errors identified by the 151 acknowledgment transaction sets
  • The receipt of a 151 text data acknowledgment (or in the PBI06 data element of the 151 EDI data acknowledgment) file that states: "There are no open errors; this period’s filing is complete."

Changing the T/P Indicator

Following the successful completion of Data Error Correction Testing, Information Providers will be mailed a notice of completion. Upon receipt of this notice, filers must change the test and production indicator (ISA15) from "T" to "P". When filing a production file, you should always set the indicator to "P" for Production Data. Filers should begin submission of their monthly electronic 720 TO/CS filings in the production environment as soon as they have received this notice of completion.

Please note - Important! It is imperative that terminal operator reports provide a beginning inventory for each product code reported in their first production filing. Whenever a product code is reported for the first time, a beginning inventory must be included. If the beginning inventory is not provided, the filing will generate a data error that will require a correction filing. See the "General Information" section of these instructions and IRS Publication 3536 Rev 3-2010 for more information.

For the supplemental file (BTI14= ‘6S’) qualification testing phase the electronic participant must submit at least one supplemental (BTI14= ‘6S’) file to amend and/or append data from a previous filing period that has been accepted as complete with no open errors.

  1. Using one of the three months of data successfully submitted in Phase II, the ExSTARS EDI Helpdesk will identify a set of data in the original completed test file that must be amended and appended through the use of a supplemental ( BTI14= ‘6S’) file. These identified data amendments might typically require the deletion of transactions associated with a previously submitted and valid carrier FEIN, FCN/TCN or position holder FEIN; and the subsequent insertion of corresponding transactions associated with a different unique and valid carrier FEIN, FCN/TCN or position holder FEIN. In addition, the test supplemental file will also contain a minimum of one additional "new" transaction that was not previously reported. The transactions identified to be amended by the supplemental file will be conveyed in a text file placed in the participant’s download directory. Additional instructions may be transmitted via email or telephone.
  2. The information provider/transmitter will submit an 813 supplemental (BTI= "6S") transaction set to amend the data previously submitted and accepted for the filing period per the instructions in Step 1. ExSTARS will process the 813 supplemental file containing the data to be amended as outlined in Step 1 and generate to the participant a 997 Functional Acknowledgment transaction set, a 151 Electronic Filing of Tax Return Data Acknowledgment EDI transaction set, a 151 data acknowledgment in text format, and if the information provider is a terminal operator a Terminal Inventory Report text file.
  3. The information provider/transmitter will receive, download, and process the 997 Functional Acknowledgment and a 151 Data Acknowledgment. The ExSTARS EDI Helpdesk will review the changes to the ExSTARS database that were generated by the supplemental file to assure that the intended amendments were effected. Another goal of this Step is to receive a 151 text data acknowledgment or in the PBI06 data element of the 151 EDI data acknowledgments file that states: "There are no open errors; this period’s filing is complete."
  4. If the intended changes were not effected, repeat Steps 1 through 3. Steps 1 through 3 will be repeated until the desired results have been achieved.

Production Data Monitoring

Once data error correction qualification testing has been completed and the information provider begins their production filings, there will then be a period of production data monitoring not to exceed 6 months.

During this phase the filer will be submitting production data, and the IRS will be monitoring the data content being filed for reasonableness, error levels and volume.

The participant must continue to submit summary 720TO/CS paper forms as outlined in test step 2 of the EDI Structure/Syntax and Data Validation testing phase. This will be done on a normal basis for the first two (2) to four (4) production filings.

Written notification from the IRS via mail or fax will be sent when production monitoring is completed, at which time Information Providers will no longer be required to submit summary 720TO/CS paper reports with their monthly electronic filings to ExSTARS.

When formal monitoring is completed, the filers will be periodically reviewed on a random basis. Error and data monitoring as a whole will be followed and if a trend of an increase in problems occurs, or an identified problem occurs repeatedly, the filer may be contacted to determine if assistance may be provided to help resolve the issue(s).

 

ExSTARS EDI TESTING SCENARIO PHASE I CONNECTIVITY TESTING PHASE II EDI STRUCTURE/SYNTAX and DATA VALIDATION PHASE III DATA ERROR REPLACEMENT-CORRECTION-SUPLEMENTAL TESTING PHASE IV PRODUCTION DATA MONITORING
NEW ExSTARS PARTICIPANTS REQUIRED REQUIRED REQUIRED REQUIRED
4030 APPROVED EXSTARS INFO PROVIDERS REQUESTING TESTING FOR INTERNAL APPLICATION CHANGES, NEW SOFTWARE, NEW TRANSACTION FUNCTIONS, ETC. OPTIONAL OPTIONAL OPTIONAL NA
4030 APPROVED EXSTARS TRANSMITTERS REQUESTING TESTING FOR INTERNAL APPLICATION CHANGES, NEW SOFTWARE, NEW TRANSACTION FUNCTIONS,ETC. OPTIONAL OPTIONAL OPTIONAL N/A
4030 EXSTARS TRANSMITTERS/INFORMATION PROVIDERS REQUESTING TESTING FOR SUPPLEMENTAL TRANSACTION (BTI14="6S") N/A N/A REQUIRED N/A

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 09-Sep-2014