Practitioner PIN Method for Forms 1040 and 4868 Modernized e-File (MeF)
IRS added Forms 1040, 4868, and 21 1040-related tax returns to the Modernized e-File platform in February 2010. The Practitioner PIN option for electronically signing Forms 1040 and 4868 through the MeF platform is provided below. The requirements for the Practitioner PIN are the same for both the current e-file system and the MeF system. However, there are slight differences in how information is transmitted or returned between the 2 platforms. "MeF info" is noted next to any question/answer that has MeF specific information.
The Practitioner PIN method is an additional signature method for taxpayers who use an Electronic Return Originator (ERO) to sign their return by entering a five-digit PIN. The PIN can be any five digits except all zeros.
Generally, a PIN is needed for each taxpayer when completing a married filing joint tax return. The Practitioner PIN method allows you to authorize the Electronic Return Originator to enter or generate your PIN. It is not necessary for taxpayers to provide their date of birth, prior year adjusted gross income or prior year PIN for authentication when using the Practitioner PIN method.
General Q&A's for Electronic Signature (PIN) Methods
- If the taxpayer uses a PIN and owes taxes, can they pay the balance due electronically?
- Are all taxpayers who file electronically and sign with a PIN required to pay any balance due electronically?
- Is the PIN used by the taxpayer a Universal PIN?
- Can the taxpayer use the same PIN next year?
- What happens if two taxpayers select and use the same PIN to sign their return?
- Do both taxpayers filing a joint return need a PIN?
- Can the taxpayer electronically file a joint return if the spouse is unable to sign because he or she is serving in a combat zone or a hazardous duty area, and the taxpayer does not have a power of attorney or other statement?
- How do I know the IRS received the taxpayer's PIN? (MeF info)
What is an ERO PIN? (MeF info)
IRS e-file Signature Authorization Questions (Forms 8879 & 8878)
Practitioner PIN for e-file
The following taxpayers are eligible to use the Practitioner PIN method:
Taxpayers who are eligible to file Form 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ or 1040SS(PR) for Tax Year 2012.
Military personnel residing overseas with APO/FPO addresses.
U.S. citizens and resident aliens residing in the American Possessions of the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam and Northern Mariana Islands, or with foreign country addresses.
Taxpayers filing a Form 4868 (Extension of Time to File).
- Those filing on behalf of deceased taxpayers.
There is no age restriction on who can use the Practitioner PIN method; everyone is eligible to use the Practitioner PIN method providing they present the proper credentials to the Practitioner at the time of filing.
The MeF platform allows for documents to be submitted electronically in PDF format. See Publication 4164 for more information. For the tax year 2012, the 1040 MeF platform is supporting the following documents as an attachment to Form 8453, U.S. Individual Income Tax Transmittal for an IRS e-file Return:
Form 1098-C, Contributions of Motor Vehicles, Boats, and Airplanes
Form 2848, Power of Attorney
- Form 3115, Application for Change in Accounting Method
- Form 3468, Computation of Investment Credit
- Form 4136, Credit for Federal Tax Paid on Fuels
- Form 5713, International Boycott Report
- Form 8283, Non-Cash Charitable Contributions, Section A (if any statement or qualified appraisal is required) or Section B, Donated Property, and any related attachments (including any qualified appraisal or partnership Form 8283)
- Form 8332, Release of Claim to Exemption for Child of Divorced or Separated Parents
- Form 8858, Information Return of U.S. Persons with Respect to Foreign Disregarded Entities
- Form 8864, Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Fuels Credit
- Form 8885, Health Coverage Tax Credit, and all required attachments
- Form 8949, Sales and Other Dispositions of Capital Assets, (or a statement with the same information, if you elect not to report your transactions electronically on Form 8949).
If the software allows for the Form 8283 to be scanned and attached to the electronic return, the Form 8453 does not have to be completed or mailed to IRS. If the software does not support attaching Form 8283 as a PDF file, Form 8453 may be completed and mailed to IRS.
All return information, including a copy of the Form 8453 and other documents that cannot be electronically transmitted are required to be retained until the end of the calendar year.
The Practitioner PIN method offers an additional signature option for EROs to use in preparing and transmitting Form 1040 to IRS. Neither the Date of Birth nor the Adjusted Gross Income amount or PIN is needed for Practitioner PIN returns.
NOTE: EROs are strongly encouraged to check the Acknowledgement File or review the information received from the transmitter to determine acceptance of the PIN.
Yes. Complete Form 8878, IRS e-file Signature Authorization for Form 4868 and Form 2350, for Form 4868 filed using the Practitioner PIN method. Remember that a signature is only required on Form 4868 when there is an Electronic Funds Withdrawal.
EROs are required to sign Form 8879, Part III, inputting their ERO EFIN/PIN for all returns using the Practitioner PIN method. The ERO/EFIN PIN consist of eleven digits (the first six positions is the EFIN and the last five is any five digits except all zeros). EROs should confirm the identity of taxpayers per Publication 1345 when completing Form 8879, before you transmit the return or release it for transmission to the IRS.
No. Do not mail Form 8879 or 8878 to IRS. EROs using the Practitioner PIN method must retain completed Forms 8879 and 8878 for three years from the return due date or IRS received date, whichever is later. Electronic storage is acceptable. In addition, Form 8879 or 8878 should not be used as a transmittal to fax documents or submit payments to the IRS.
General Q&A's for Electronic Signature (PIN) Methods
Taxpayers must complete Form 8879, IRS e-file Signature Authorization, for returns using the Practitioner PIN method. Taxpayers can either enter their own PIN or authorize the ERO to enter their PIN for them when completing Form 8879.
Yes. Taxpayers who use a PIN may pay their balance due by Electronic Funds Withdrawal or credit card.
No. Taxpayers who prefer to pay by check or money order should file Form 1040-V, Payment Voucher. Form 8879, IRS e-file Signature Authorization, should not be used to transmit any payments.
No. It is used as the taxpayer's electronic signature on their Individual Income Tax Return only; however, taxpayers may also use it as a piece of authentication when signing their next year tax return using electronic signature.
Yes, or they may choose any 5 digits except all zeros.
It is acceptable for two taxpayers to choose the same five digit PIN. The taxpayer's personal information provided to the IRS is used to verify the taxpayer's identity.
Yes, each taxpayer must sign using a PIN. The taxpayers will choose any five digits except all zeros as the electronic signature.
Can the taxpayer electronically file a joint return if the spouse is unable to sign because he or she is serving in a combat zone or a hazardous duty area, and the taxpayer does not have a power of attorney or other statement?
Yes, a joint return can be electronically filed without the spouse's electronic PIN signature if the spouse is unable to sign because he or she is serving in a combat zone or a qualified hazardous duty area, and the taxpayer does not have a power of attorney or other statement.
When you receive your Acknowledgement Record, all accepted returns will have the PIN Presence Indicator. One of the following values will be returned:
"Self-Select PIN" (Self-Select PIN by Practitioner Used)
"Online Filer PIN"
The ERO PIN is the ERO's electronic signature. For consistency, each ERO is encouraged to use the same 11 numbers for their PIN on all returns for this filing season. The first 6 positions of your ERO PIN must be your EFIN and it must match the EFIN in the SubmissionId. You may select any 5 digits, except all zeros, for the next five positions. It does not take place of the taxpayer's PIN. A taxpayer PIN is also required.
If the ERO PIN is not present, the return will reject displaying the reject reason (business rule).
The Schemas and Business Rules for Form 1040/4868 MeF web page lists this information by tax year.
The MeF Practitioner PIN method requirements for software developers and transmitters can be found in Publication 4164, Modernized e-File (MeF) Guide for Software Developers and Transmitters.
If my client uses the Practitioner PIN method to sign their return, how is an election for certain tax treatment, status, exception or exemption based on an instruction for the tax form or in a related tax publication submitted?
If your client uses the Practitioner PIN method to sign their return, and is making an election for certain tax treatment, status, exception or exemption based on an instruction for the tax form or in a related tax publication, the General Dependency Medium must be used if there is no official form or XML schema designed for the election. Practitioners should not attach a copy of the election to the Form 8453, U.S. Individual Income Tax Transmittal for an IRS e-file Return.
IRS e-file Signature Authorization Questions (Forms 8879 & 8878)
Your client may authorize you to input his/her PIN by completing Form 8879, IRS e-file Signature Authorization or Form 8878, IRS e-file Signature Authorization Application for Form 4868 and Form 2350. Provide Form 8879/8878 to the taxpayer along with a copy of the completed tax return/document, in person, by U.S.mail, a private delivery service, e-mail, FAX transmission or an internet web site. Instruct your client to review the tax return/tax document for accuracy and complete the Form 8879/8878 by providing the requested information (a five-digit PIN, pen and ink signature, and date). If your client is unable to return the signed Form 8879/8878 to your office, he/she may return it to you by U.S. mail, private delivery service or FAX transmission.
Form 8879, IRS e-file Signature Authorization, allows the tax professional to input the taxpayer's PIN. It is provided as a convenience for taxpayers who are unavailable to personally enter their PIN. It is also required for all returns signed using the Practitioner PIN method or when the ERO generated or assigned the taxpayers PIN.
Some tax preparation software includes Form 8879, IRS e-file Signature Authorization format. A copy can also be obtained from IRS website, keyword Form 8879. A Spanish version, Form 8879-SP, is also available on the site.
No. Form 8879 is only required when one or both taxpayers are unavailable to personally enter their PIN or when the ERO has generated or assigned the taxpayer's PIN. However, it is required for all returns signed using the Practitioner PIN method.
Yes. A taxpayer may give you their PIN verbally; however, you must receive a completed Form 8879, IRS e-file Signature Authorization, from the taxpayer before you transmit the return or release it for transmission to the IRS.
Yes, the taxpayer PIN can be entered into the electronic return format prior to generation of the Form 8879. However, the ERO must receive a completed Form 8879 signed by the taxpayer before you transmit the return or release it for transmission to the IRS.
Yes, an ERO may determine the taxpayer's PIN if certain conditions are met. In all instances, the taxpayer shall retain the right to select his or her own PIN. If the taxpayer agrees to allow the ERO to determine the taxpayer PIN, the taxpayer will consent to the ERO's choice by completing and signing a Form 8879 which contains the taxpayer PIN used as the return signature. The taxpayer PIN can be systemically generated or manually assigned by the ERO.
Yes, it is acceptable to assign the same PIN for multiple clients.
No. The taxpayer who is not present to personally enter their PIN must complete Form 8879 to authorize their tax professional to input the PIN for them.
No, only the taxpayer that is not present to sign the return should authorize the preparer to enter their PIN. If neither spouse is present to sign a joint return, each can authorize the preparer to enter his/her respective PIN. But a spouse who is present should enter his/her own PIN, even if the preparer has authorization to enter the other spouse's PIN.
As a return preparer, your responsibility is to provide the taxpayer with Form 8879 along with their return for review. You are required to generate or enter the header information, tax return five line items in Part I, and the ERO firm name in Part II. You may also systemically generate or manually assign the taxpayer's PIN in Part II.
As an ERO, your responsibility is to complete Form 8879 based on the return information you received from the taxpayer. You are required to generate or enter the header information, the five tax return line items in Part I, and the ERO firm name in Part II. You may also system generate or manually assign the taxpayer PIN in Part II.
If you prepared the return, the taxpayer must complete Form 8879 after they have reviewed the prepared return. If the taxpayer provided a completed return for transmission, the Form 8879 and PIN selection can be completed without reviewing the electronic return. You must receive the completed Form 8879 from the taxpayer before you transmit the return or release it for transmission to the IRS. Tax return line items in Part I must be entered on Form 8879 before the taxpayer signs.
Yes. Form 8879 can be signed and returned to the ERO via fax transmission. However, the ERO must retain Form 8879 in their file for three years from the Return Due Date or IRS Received Date, whichever is later. Form 8879 files can be retained electronically in accordance with Rev. Proc. 97-22, Retention of Book and Records.
Provide a copy of the completed Form 8879 for those taxpayers requesting one. You may provide a copy to other taxpayers, but you are not required to do so.
However, EROs will need to provide taxpayers with a copy of Form 8879 if the current year PIN is assigned or generated by the ERO. The taxpayer may need the PIN when electronically signing their next year return.
Yes. Form 8878, IRS e-file Signature Authorization for Application for Form 4868 and Form 2350, is available for taxpayers to authorize the ERO to input their PIN on Forms 4868 or 2350. A copy can be obtained from IRS website, keyword Form 8878. A Spanish version, Form 8878-SP, is also available on the website.
No. Retain the completed Form 8879 and Form 8878 in your file for three years from the Return Due Date or IRS Received Date, whichever is later. In addition, Form 8879 can not be used as a transmittal to fax documents or submit payments to IRS.
Yes. An ERO may electronically image and store Forms 8879 and 8878 if the EROs storage system satisfies the requirements of Rev. Proc. 97-22, Retention of Books and Records. In brief, Rev. Proc. 97-22 requires that the electronic storage system must ensure an accurate and complete transfer of the hard copy or computerized records to an electronic storage media. In addition, all records reproduced by the electronic storage system must exhibit a high degree of legibility and readability (including the taxpayer's signature) when displayed on a video display terminal and when reproduced in hard copy.
Your client may authorize you to input his/her PIN by completing Form 8878. Provide this form to the taxpayer along with a copy of the extension of time to file application for their review. It is not necessary for both taxpayers e-filing a joint extension application to authorize the ERO to enter their taxpayer PIN. See additional instructions on Form 8878.
A Form 8878 is required by Form 4868 filers when they will make an Electronic Funds Withdrawal and they want to authorize the ERO to enter the taxpayer's PIN. Form 8878 is not required for Form 4868 when there is no Electronic Funds Withdrawal.
Please contact us at the MeF Mailbox if you have any questions about the information on this page.