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Most Tax Return Preparers Must Use IRS e-file

As of January 1, 2012, any tax return preparer who anticipates preparing and filing 11 or more Forms 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ and 1041 during a calendar year must use IRS e-file (unless the preparer or a particular return is administratively exempt from the e-file requirement or the return is filed by a preparer with an approved hardship waiver).

Members of firms must count returns in the aggregate. If the number of applicable income tax returns is 11 or more, then all members of the firm generally must e-file the returns they prepare and file. This is true even if a member expects to prepare and file fewer than 11 returns on an individual basis.

Those who are subject to the e-file requirement are referred to as "specified tax return preparers."

Apply to become an e-file provider now
You must be an authorized e-file provider to use IRS e-file. The authorization process generally takes about 45 days.

Explain paper returns

Even if you are an authorized e-file provider, clients for whom you prepare one of the returns identified above may choose to file on paper if the return will be submitted to the IRS by the taxpayer. As described in Rev. Proc. 2011-25, tax return preparers in this situation should obtain and keep a signed and dated statement from the client. Also, in this situation and in the cases of administratively exempt returns or returns filed by a tax return preparer with an approved hardship waiver, specified tax return preparers generally should attach Form 8948, Preparer Explanation for Not Filing Electronically, to the client's paper return.

Request a hardship waiver

Specified tax return preparers may request an undue hardship waiver from the e-file requirement using Form 8944, Preparer e-file Hardship Waiver Request. Form 8944 generally must be submitted to the IRS no later than February 15 of the year for which a waiver is being requested.

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 28-May-2014