Internal Revenue Bulletin:  2013-11 

March 11, 2013 

Rev. Proc. 2013-17

General Rules and Specifications for Substitute Forms and Schedules


Table of Contents

Part 1 Introduction to Substitute Forms

Section 1.1 — Overview of Revenue Procedure 2013-17

1.1.1 Purpose

The purpose of this revenue procedure is to provide guidelines and general requirements for the development, printing, and approval of substitute tax forms. Approval will be based on these guidelines. After review and approval, submitted forms will be accepted as substitutes for official IRS forms.

1.1.2
Unique Forms

Certain unique specialized forms require the use of other additional publications to supplement this publication. See Part 4.

1.1.3
Scope

The IRS accepts quality substitute tax forms that are consistent with the official forms and have no adverse impact on our processing. The IRS Substitute Forms Unit administers the formal acceptance and processing of these forms nationwide. While this program deals with paper documents, it also reviews for approval other processing and filing forms such as those used in electronic filing.

Only those substitute forms that comply fully with these requirements are acceptable. This revenue procedure is updated as required to reflect pertinent tax year form changes and to meet processing and/or legislative requirements.

1.1.4
Forms Covered by This Revenue Procedure

The following types of forms are covered by this revenue procedure:

  • IRS tax forms and their related schedules,

  • Worksheets as they appear in instruction packages,

  • Applications for permission to file returns electronically and forms used as required documentation for electronically filed returns,

  • Powers of Attorney,

  • Over-the-counter estimated tax payment vouchers, and

  • Forms and schedules relating to partnerships, exempt organizations, and employee plans.

1.1.5
Forms Not Covered by This Revenue Procedure

The following types of forms are not covered by this revenue procedure:

  • W-2 and W-3 (see Publication 1141 for information on these forms),

  • W-2c and W-3c (see Publication 1223 for information on these forms),

  • 941, Schedule B (Form 941) and Schedule R (Form 941) (see Publication 4436 for information on these forms),

  • 1096, 1097-BTC, 1098 series, 1099 series, 3921, 3922, 5498 series, W-2G, 1042-S, and 8935 (see Publication 1179 for information on these forms),

  • 8027 (see Publication 1239 for information on this form),

  • Forms 1040-ES (OCR) and 1041-ES (OCR), which may not be reproduced,

  • Forms 5500, 5500-SF and associated schedules (For more information on these forms, see the Department of Labor website at www.efast.dol.gov.),

  • Forms 5300, 5307, 8717, and 8905, bar-coded forms requiring separate approval,

  • FinCEN forms, TD F 90-22 forms, and Form 8300,

  • Requests for information or documentation initiated by the IRS,

  • Forms used internally by the IRS,

  • State tax forms,

  • Forms developed outside the IRS, and

  • General Instructions and Specific Instructions (These are not reviewed by the Substitute Forms Program Unit).

Section 1.2 — IRS Contacts

1.2.1
Where To Send Substitute Forms

Send your substitute forms for approval to the following offices (do not send forms with taxpayer data):

Form Office and Address
All FinCEN family of forms, TD F 90-22 family of forms, and Form 8300 Enterprise Computing Center Detroit (ECC-D) BSA Compliance Branch P.O. Box 32063 Detroit, MI 48232-0063
Form 8300, FBAR, and Casino CTR [FinCEN Form 103] Enterprise Computing Center Detroit (ECC-D) BSA Compliance Branch P.O. Box 32621 Detroit, MI 48232-0621
5500, 5500-SF, and Schedules for Form 5500 Check EFAST2 information at the Department of Labor’s website at www.efast.dol.gov
5300, 5307, 8717, and 8905 Sandra.K.Barnes@irs.gov
Software developer vouchers (See Sections 2.3.7 — 2.3.9.) Internal Revenue Service Attn: Doris Bethea, C5-226 5000 Ellin Rd. Lanham, MD 20706 Doris.E.Bethea@irs.gov
All others (except W-2, W-2c, W-3, W-3c, 941, Schedules B and R (Form 941), 1096, 1097-BTC, 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922, 5498, W-2G, 1042-S, 8027 and 8935) covered by this publication Internal Revenue Service Attn: Substitute Forms Program SE:W:CAR:MP:T:M:S, IR 6526 1111 Constitution Avenue, NW Room 6526 Washington, DC 20224

In addition, the Substitute Forms Program Unit can be contacted via email at substituteforms@irs.gov. Please include “PDF Submissions” on the subject line.

For questions about Forms W-2 and W-3, refer to IRS Publication 1141, General Rules and Specifications for Substitute Forms W-2 and W-3. For Forms W-2c and W-3c, refer to IRS Publication 1223, General Rules and Specifications for Substitute Forms W-2c and W-3c. For Form 941 and Schedules B and R (Form 941), refer to IRS Publication 4436, General Rules and Specifications for Substitute Form 941, Schedule B (Form 941) and Schedule R (Form 941). For Forms 1096, 1097-BTC, 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922, 5498, W-2G, 1042-S, and 8935, refer to IRS Publication 1179, General Rules and Specifications for Substitute Forms 1096, 1098, 1099, 5498, and Certain Other Information Returns. For Form 8027, refer to IRS Publication 1239, Specifications for Filing Form 8027, Employer’s Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips, Electronically.

Section 1.3 — What’s New

1.3.1 What’s New

The following changes have been made to Publication 1167 since the last revision (December 2011).

  • Tax deductions and credits have been extended for tax year 2012. The following tax deductions and credits have been extended for tax year 2012 by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, P.L. 112-240: *The election to deduct state and local sales taxes instead of state and local income taxes, *Mortgage insurance premium deduction, *The deduction for certain domestic production activities in Puerto Rico, *Energy efficient appliance credit, *Credit for employer differential wage payments, *Credit for increasing research activities, *Empowerment zone credit, *Indian employment credit, *Biodiesel and renewable diesel fuels credit.

  • Qualified disability trust. For 2012, qualified disability trusts can claim an exemption of up to $3,800. The exemption is no longer phased out .

  • Bankruptcy estate filing threshold. For tax years beginning in 2012, the requirement to file a return for a bankruptcy estate applies only if gross income is at least $9,750.

  • Schedule K-1 (Form 1065). On the Schedule K-1 (Form 1065), we added new item I2 for the partnership to indicate whether the partner is a retirement plan (IRA/SEP/Keogh/etc.).

  • Principal Business Activity (PBA) Codes. In the instructions, the list of Principal Business Activity (PBA) Codes have been revised.

  • No separate payment card reporting requirements. Gross receipts received via payment card (credit and debit cards) and third party network payments are not separately reported on Form 1065 and Form 1120S.

  • Partners that are foreign governments under section 892. On page 3 of the form, we added line 20 to Schedule B, asking the filer to enter the number of partners that are foreign governments under section 892.

  • Editorial changes. We made editorial changes throughout, redundancies were eliminated as much as possible.

Section 1.4 — Definitions

1.4.1 Substitute Form

A tax form (or related schedule) that differs in any way from the official version and is intended to replace the form that is printed and distributed by the IRS. This term also covers those approved substitute forms exhibited in this revenue procedure.

1.4.2 Printed/Preprinted Form

A printed form that has marginal perforations for use with automated and high-speed printing equipment.

1.4.3 Preprinted Pin-Fed Form

A preprinted form in which the taxpayer’s tax entry information has been inserted by a computer, computer printer, or other computer-type equipment.

1.4.4 Computer Prepared Substitute Form

1.4.5 Computer Generated Substitute Tax Return or Form

A tax return or form that is entirely designed and printed using a computer printer on plain white paper. This return or form must conform to the physical layout of the corresponding IRS form, although the typeface may differ. The text should match the text on the officially printed form as closely as possible. Condensed text and abbreviations will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Note

Exception. All jurats (perjury statements) must be reproduced verbatim.

1.4.6 Manually Prepared Form

A preprinted reproduced form in which the taxpayer’s tax entry information is entered by an individual using a pen, pencil, typewriter, or other non-automated equipment.

1.4.7 Graphics

Parts of a printed tax form that are not tax amount entries or required text. Examples of graphics are line numbers, captions, shadings, special indicators, borders, rules, and strokes created by typesetting, photographics, photocomposition, etc.

1.4.8 Acceptable Reproduced Form

A legible photocopy or an exact replica of an original form.

1.4.9 Supporting Statement (Supplemental Schedule)

A document providing detailed information to support a line entry on an official or approved substitute form and filed with (attached to) a tax return.

Note

Note. A supporting statement is not a tax form and does not take the place of an official form.

1.4.10 Specific Form Terms

The following specific terms are used throughout this revenue procedure in reference to all substitute forms: format, sequence, line reference, item caption, and data entry field.

1.4.11 Format

The overall physical arrangement and general layout of a substitute form.

1.4.12 Sequence

Sequence is an integral part of the total format requirement. The substitute form should show the same numeric and logical placement order of data, as shown on the official form.

1.4.13 Line Reference

The line numbers, letters, or alphanumerics used to identify each captioned line on an official form. These line references are printed to the immediate left of each caption and/or data entry field.

1.4.14 Item Caption

The text on each line of a form, which identifies the data required.

1.4.15 Data Entry Field

Designated areas for the entry of data such as dollar amounts, quantities, responses and checkboxes.

1.4.16 Advance Draft

A draft version of a new or revised form may be posted to the IRS website (http://www.irs.gov/app/picklist/list/draftTaxForms.html) for information purposes. Substitute forms may be submitted based on these advance drafts, but any submitter that receives forms approval based on these early drafts is responsible for monitoring and revising forms to mirror any revisions in the final forms provided by the IRS.

1.4.17 Approval

Generally, approval could be in writing or assumed after 20 business days from our receipt for forms that have not been substantially changed by the IRS. Also, this does not apply to newly created or substantially revised IRS forms.

Section 1.5 — Agreement

1.5.1 Important Stipulation of This Revenue Procedure

Any person or company who uses substitute forms and makes all or part of the changes specified in this revenue procedure agrees to the following stipulations.

  • The IRS presumes that any required changes are made in accordance with these procedures and will not be disruptive to the processing of the tax return.

  • Should any of the changes be disruptive to the IRS’s processing of the tax return, the person or company agrees to accept the determination of the IRS as to whether the form may continue to be filed.

  • The person or company agrees to work with the IRS in correcting noted deficiencies. Notification of deficiencies may be made by any combination of fax, letter, email, or phone contact and may include the request for the re-submission of unacceptable forms.

1.5.2 Response Policy and Stipulations

The Substitute Forms Unit (the Unit) will email confirmation, as much as possible, of receipt of your forms submission. Your submission can be considered approved if you do not receive a response from the Unit within 20 business days of the receipt date. If the Unit anticipates problems in completing the review of your submission within the 20 business day period, the Unit will send an interim email notifying you of the extended period for review.

Once the substitute forms have been approved by the Substitute Forms Unit, you can release them after the final versions of the forms have been issued by the IRS. Before releasing the forms, you are responsible for updating forms approved as draft and for making form changes we requested.

The policy has the following stipulations.

  • This 20-day policy applies to electronic submissions only. It does not apply to substitute forms submitted for approval by paper or fax.

  • The policy applies to submissions of 15 (optimal) or fewer items. Submissions of more than 15 items may require additional review time.

  • If you send a large number of submissions within a short period of time, processing may be delayed.

  • Delays in processing could occur if the Unit finds significant errors in your submission. The Unit will send you an interim email in this case.

  • Any anticipated problems in processing your submission within the 20-day period will generate an interim email on or about the 15th business day.

  • If any significant inaccuracies are discovered after the 20-day period, the Unit reserves the right to inform you and will require that changes be made to correct the inaccuracies.

  • The policy does not apply to substantially revised forms or to new forms created by the IRS for which you have already made an initial submission.

Part 2
General Guidelines for Submissions and Approvals

Section 2.1 — General Specifications for Approval

2.1.1
Overview

If you produce any tax forms following only those changes specifically outlined by the Substitute Forms Unit, you can generate your own substitute forms without further approval. If your changes are more extensive, you must get IRS approval before using substitute forms. More extensive changes can include the use of typefaces and sizes other than those found on the official form and the condensing of line item descriptions to save space.

Note

Note. The 20-day turnaround policy may not apply to extensive changes.

2.1.2
Email Submissions

The Substitute Forms Program accepts substitute forms submissions via email. The email address is substituteforms@irs.gov. Please include the term “PDF Submissions” on the subject line.

Follow these guidelines.

  • Your submission should include all the forms you wish to submit in one attached pdf file. Do not email each form individually.

  • Small (optimally 15 forms), rather than large, submissions should expedite processing. A submission should contain a maximum of 15 forms.

  • An approval check sheet listing the forms you are submitting should always be included in the pdf file along with the forms. See a sample check sheet in Exhibit D.

  • Optimize pdf files before submitting.

  • The maximum allowable email attachment is 2.5 megabytes.

  • The Substitute Forms Unit accepts zip files.

  • To alleviate delays during the peak time of September through December, submit advance draft forms as early as possible.

If the guidelines are not followed, you may need to resubmit.

Emailing pdf submissions will not expedite review and approval. The pdf submissions will be assigned a control number and put in queue along with mailed-in paper submissions. In addition to submitting forms via email, you may send your submissions to:

Internal Revenue Service
Attn: Substitute Forms Program
SE:W:CAR:MP:T:M:S, IR 6526
1111 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20224

2.1.3
Expediting the Process

Follow these basic guidelines for expediting the process.

  • Always include a check sheet for the Substitute Forms Unit’s response.

  • Follow Publication 1167 for general substitute form guidelines. Follow the specialized publications produced by the Substitute Forms Unit for other specific forms.

  • To spread out the workload, send in draft versions of substitute forms when they are posted. Note. Be sure to make any changes to approved drafts before releasing final versions.

2.1.4
Schedules

Schedules are considered to be an integral part of a complete tax return. A schedule may be included as part of a form or printed separately.

2.1.5
Examples of Schedules That Must Be Submitted with the Return

Form 706, United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return, is an example of this situation. Its Schedules A through U have pages numbered as part of the basic return. For Form 706 to be considered for approval, the entire form including Schedules A through PC must be submitted.

2.1.6
Examples of Schedules That Can Be Submitted Separately

However, Schedules C, D, and E and Form 1040 are examples of schedules that can be submitted separately. Although printed by the IRS as a supplement to Form 1040, none of these schedules are required to be filed with Form 1040. These schedules may be separated from Form 1040 and submitted as substitute forms.

2.1.7 Use and Distribution of Unapproved Forms

The IRS is continuing a program to identify and contact tax return preparers, forms developers, and software publishers who use or distribute unapproved forms that do not conform to this revenue procedure. The use of unapproved forms hinders the processing of the returns.

Section 2.2 — Highlights of Permitted Changes and Requirements

2.2.1
Methods of Reproducing Internal Revenue Service Forms

There are methods of reproducing IRS printed tax forms suitable for use as substitutes without prior approval.

  • You can photocopy most tax forms and use them instead of the official ones. The entire substitute form, including entries, must be legible.

  • You can reproduce any current tax form as cut sheets, snap sets, and marginally punched, pin-fed forms as long as you use an official IRS version as the master copy.

  • You can reproduce a form that requires a signature as a valid substitute form. Many tax forms (including returns) have a taxpayer signature requirement as part of the form layout. The jurat/perjury statement/ signature line areas must be retained and worded exactly as on the official form. The requirement for a signature, by itself, does not prohibit a tax form from being properly computer-generated.

Section 2.3 — Vouchers

2.3.1
Overview

All payment vouchers (Forms 940-V, 941-V, 943-V, 945-V, 1040-ES, 1040-V, 1041-V and 2290-V) must be reproduced in conjunction with their forms. Substitute vouchers must be the same size as the officially printed vouchers. Vouchers that are prepared for printing on a laser printer may include a scan line.

2.3.2
Scan Line Specifications

Item: NNNNNNNNNAA XXXX NN N NNNNNN NNN
  A B C D E F G
A. Social Security Number/Employer Identification Number (SSN/EIN) has 9 numeric (N) spaces.
B. Check Digits have 2 alpha (A) spaces.
C. Name Control has 4 alphanumeric (X) spaces.
D. Master File Tax (MFT) Code has 2 numeric (N) spaces (see below).
E. Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) Type has 1 numeric (N) space (see below).
F. Tax Period has 6 numeric (N) spaces in year/month format (YYYYMM).
G. Transaction Code has 3 numeric (N) spaces.

2.3.3
MFT Code

Code Number for Forms:

  • 1040 (family) — 30,

  • 940 — 10,

  • 941 — 01,

  • 943 — 11,

  • 944 — 14,

  • 945 — 16,

  • 1041-V — 05,

  • 2290 — 60, and

  • 4868 — 30.

2.3.4
TIN Type

Type Number for:

  • Form 1040 (family), 4868 — 0, and

  • Forms 940, 941, 943, 944, 945, 1041-V and 2290 — 2.

2.3.5
Voucher Size

The voucher size must be exactly 8.0″ x 3.25″ (Forms 1040-ES and 1041-ES must be 7.625″ x 3.0″). The document scan line must be vertically positioned 0.25 inches from the bottom of the scan line to the bottom of the voucher. The last character on the right of the scan line must be placed 3.5 inches from the right leading edge of the document. The minimum required horizontal clear space between characters is .014 inches. The line to be scanned must have a clear band 0.25 inches in height from top to bottom of the scan line, and from border to border of the document. “Clear band” means no printing except for dropout ink.

2.3.6
Print and Paper Weight

Vouchers must be imaged in black ink using OCR A, OCR B, or Courier 10. These fonts may not be mixed in the scan line. The horizontal character pitch is 10 CPI. The preferred paper weight is 20 to 24 pound OCR bond.

2.3.7
Specifications for Software Developers

Certain vouchers may be reproduced for use in the IRS lockbox system. These include the 1040-V, 1040-ES, 1041-V, the 940 family, and 2290 vouchers. Software developers must follow these specific guidelines to produce scannable vouchers strictly for lockbox purposes. Also see Exhibit C.

  • The total depth must be 3.25 inches.

  • The scan line must be .5 inches from the bottom edge and 1.75 inches from the left edge of the voucher and left-justified.

  • Software developers vouchers must be 8.5 inches wide (instead of 8 inches with a cut line). Therefore, no vertical cut line is required.

  • Scan line positioning must be exact.

  • Do not use the over-the-counter format voucher and add the scan line to it.

  • All scanned data must be in 12-point OCR A font.

  • The 4-digit NACTP ID code should be placed under the payment indicator arrow.

  • Windowed envelopes must not display the scan line in order to avoid disclosure and privacy issues.

Note

Note. All software developers must ensure that their software uses OCR A font so taxpayers will be able to print the vouchers in the correct font.

2.3.8
Specific Line Positions

Follow these line specifications for entering taxpayer data in the lockbox vouchers.

  Start Row Start Column Width End Column
Line Specifications for Taxpayer Data:        
Taxpayer Name 56 6 6 41
Taxpayer Address, Apt. 57 6 36 41
Taxpayer City, State, ZIP 58 6 36 41
Foreign Country Name 59 6 36 41
Foreign Province/ Country 60 6 17 22
Foreign Postal Code 60 26 16 41
Line Specifications for Mail To Data:        
Mail Name 56 43 38 80
Mail Address 57 43 38 80
Mail City, State, ZIP 58 43 38 80
Line Specifications for:        
Scan Line 63 26 n/a n/a

2.3.9
How to Get Approval

To receive approval, please send in 25 voucher samples yearly for each form type or scenarios, by December 10, for testing to the following address.

Internal Revenue Service
Attn: Doris Bethea, C5-226
5000 Ellin Road
Lanham, MD 20706

For further information, contact Doris Bethea, Doris.E.Bethea@irs.gov, at 202-283-0218.

Section 2.4 — Restrictions on Changes

2.4.1
What You Cannot Do to Forms Suitable for Substitute Tax Forms

You cannot, without prior IRS approval, change any IRS tax form or use your own (non-approved) versions including graphics, unless specifically permitted by this revenue procedure. See Sections 2.5.7 to 2.5.11.

You cannot adjust any of the graphics on Forms 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ (except in those areas specified in Part 5 of this revenue procedure) without prior approval from the IRS Substitute Forms Unit.

Note

Note. The 20-day turnaround policy may not apply to extensive changes.

Section 2.5 — Guidelines for Obtaining IRS Approval

2.5.1
Basic Requirements

Preparers who submit substitute privately designed, privately printed, computer generated, or computer prepared tax forms must develop these substitutes using the guidelines established in this part. These forms, unless there is an exception outlined by the revenue procedure, must be approved by the IRS before being filed.

2.5.2
Conditional Approval Based on Advanced Drafts

The IRS cannot grant final approval of your substitute form until the official form has been published. However, the IRS posts advance draft forms on its website at:

http://www.irs.gov/app/picklist/list/draftTaxForms.html.

We encourage submission of proposed substitutes of these advance draft forms and will grant conditional approval based solely on these early drafts. These advance drafts are subject to significant change before forms are finalized. If these advance drafts are used as the basis for your substitute forms, you will be responsible for subsequently updating your final forms to agree with the final official version. These revisions need not be resubmitted for further approval.

Note

Note. Approval of forms based on advance drafts will not be granted after the final version of an official form is published.

2.5.3
Submission Procedures

Follow these general guidelines when submitting substitute forms for approval.

  • Any alteration of forms must be within the limits acceptable to the IRS. It is possible that, from one filing period to another, a change in law or a change in internal need (processing, audit, compliance, etc.) may change the allowable limits for the alteration of the official form.

  • When approval of any substitute form (other than those exceptions specified in Part 1, Section 1.2 — IRS Contacts) is requested, a sample of the proposed substitute form should be forwarded for consideration via email or by letter to the Substitute Forms Unit at the address shown in Section 1.2.1.

  • Schedules and forms (for example, Forms 3468, 4136, etc.) that can be used with more than one type of return (for example, 1040, 1041, 1120, etc.) should be submitted only once for approval, regardless of the number of different tax returns with which they may be associated. Also, all pages of multi-page forms or returns should be submitted in the same package.

2.5.4
Approving Offices

Because only the Substitute Forms Unit is authorized to approve substitute forms, unnecessary delays may occur if forms are sent to the wrong office. You may receive an interim letter about the delay. The Substitute Forms Unit may then coordinate the response with the originator responsible for revising that particular form. Such coordination may include allowing the originator to officially approve the form. No IRS office is authorized to allow deviations from this revenue procedure.

2.5.5
IRS Review of Software Programs, etc.

The IRS does not review or approve the logic of specific software programs, nor does the IRS confirm the calculations on the forms produced by these programs. The accuracy of the program remains the responsibility of the software package developer, distributor, or user.

The Substitute Forms Unit is primarily concerned with the pre-filing quality review of the final forms that are expected to be processed by IRS field offices. For this purpose, you should submit forms without including any taxpayer information such as names, addresses, monetary amounts, etc.

2.5.6
When To Send Proposed Substitutes

Proposed substitutes, which are required to be submitted per this revenue procedure, should be sent as much in advance of the filing period as possible. This is to allow adequate time for analysis and response.

2.5.7
Accompanying Statement

When submitting sample substitutes, you should include an accompanying statement that lists each form number and its changes from the official form (position, arrangement, appearance, line numbers, additions, deletions, etc.). With each of the items you should include a detailed reason for the change.

When requesting approval, please include a check sheet. Check sheets expedite the approval process. The check sheet may look like the example in Exhibit D displayed in the back of this procedure or may be one of your own design. Please include your fax number and email address on the check sheet.

2.5.8
Approval/Non-Approval Notice

The Substitute Forms Unit will fax or email the check sheet or an approval letter to the originator if a fax number has been provided, unless:

  • The requester has asked for an email response or for a formal letter, or

  • Significant corrections to the submitted forms are required.

Notice of approval may impose qualifications before using the substitutes. Notices of unapproved forms may specify the changes required for approval and require re-submission of the form(s) in question. When appropriate, you will be contacted by telephone.

2.5.9
Duration of Approval

Most signature tax returns and many of their schedules and related forms have the tax (liability) year printed in the upper right corner. Approvals for these annual forms are usually good for one calendar year (January through December of the year of filing). Quarterly tax forms in the 94X series and Form 720 require approval for any quarter in which the form has been revised.

Because changes are usually made to an annual form every year, each new filing season generally requires a new submission of a substitute form. Very rarely is updating the preprinted year the only change made to an annual form.

2.5.10
Limited Continued Use of an Approved Change

Limited changes approved for one tax year may be allowed for the same form in the following tax year. Examples are the use of abbreviated words, revised form spacing, compressed text lines, and shortened captions, etc., which do not change the integrity of lines or text on the official forms.

If substantial changes are made to the form, new substitutes must be submitted for approval. If only minor editorial changes are made to the form, it is not subject to review. It is the responsibility of each vendor who has been granted permission to use substitute forms to monitor and revise forms to mirror any revisions to official forms made by the Service. If there are any questions, please contact the Substitute Forms Unit.

2.5.11
When Approval Is Not Required

If you received approval for a specific change on a form last year, you may make the same change this year if the item is still present on the official form.

  • The new substitute form does not have to be submitted to the IRS and approval based on that change is not required.

  • However, the new substitute form must conform to the official current year IRS form in other respects: date, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval number, attachment sequence number, Paperwork Reduction Act Notice statement, arrangement, item caption, line number, line reference, data sequence, etc.

  • The new substitute form must also comply with changes to the guidelines in this revenue procedure. The procedure may have eliminated, added to, or otherwise changed the guideline(s) that affected the change approved in the prior year.

  • An approved change is authorized only for the period from a prior tax year substitute form to a current tax year substitute form.

Note

Exception. Forms with temporary, limited, or interim approvals (or with approvals that state a change is not allowed in any other tax year) are subject to review in subsequent years.

2.5.12
Continuous-Use Forms

Forms without preprinted tax years are called “continuous-use” forms. Continuous-use forms are revised when a legislative change affects the form or a change will facilitate processing. These forms frequently have revision dates that are valid for longer than one year.

2.5.13
Required Copies

Generally, you must send us one copy of each form being submitted for approval. However, if you are producing forms for different computer systems (for example, Microsoft compatible vs. Apple) or different types of printers and these forms differ significantly in appearance, submit one copy for each type of system or printer.

2.5.14
Requestor’s Responsibility

Following receipt of an initial approval for a substitute forms package or a software output program to print substitute forms, it is the responsibility of the originator (designer or distributor) to provide client firms or individuals with forms that meet the IRS’s requirements for continuing acceptability. Examples of this responsibility include:

  • Using the prescribed print paper, font size, legibility, state tax data deletion, etc., and

  • Informing all users of substitute forms of the legal requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act Notice, which is generally found in the instructions for the official IRS forms.

2.5.15
Source Code

The Substitute Forms Unit will assign a unique source code to each firm that submits substitute paper forms for approval. This source code will be a permanent identifier that must be used on every submission by a particular firm.

The source code consists of three alpha characters and should generally be printed at the bottom left margin area on the first page of every approved substitute form.

Section 2.6 — Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Requirements for All Substitute Forms

2.6.1
OMB Requirements for All Substitute Forms

There are legal requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (The Act). Public Law 104-13 requires the following.

  • OMB approves all IRS tax forms that are subject to the Act.

  • Each IRS form contains (in the upper right corner) the OMB number, if assigned.

  • Each IRS form (or its instructions) states why the IRS needs the information, how it will be used, and whether or not the information is required to be furnished to the IRS.

This information must be provided to every user of official or substitute IRS forms or instructions.

2.6.2
Application of the Paperwork Reduction Act

On forms that have been assigned OMB numbers:

  • All substitute forms must contain in the upper right corner the OMB number that is on the official form, and

  • The required format is: OMB No. 1545-XXXX (Preferred) or OMB # 1545-XXXX (Acceptable).

2.6.3
Required Explanation to Users

You must inform the users of your substitute forms of the IRS use and collection requirements stated in the instructions for official IRS forms.

  • If you provide your users or customers with the official IRS instructions, each form must retain either the Paperwork Reduction Act Notice (or Disclosure, Privacy Act, and Paperwork Reduction Act Notice), or a reference to it as the IRS does on the official forms (usually in the lower left corner of the forms).

  • This notice reads, in part, “We ask for tax return information to carry out the tax laws of the United States....”

Note

Note. If no IRS instructions are provided to users of your forms, the exact text of the Paperwork Reduction Act Notice (or Disclosure, Privacy Act, and Paperwork Reduction Act Notice) must be furnished separately or on the form.

2.6.4
Finding the OMB Number and Paperwork Reduction Act Notice

The OMB number and the Paperwork Reduction Act Notice, or references to it, may be found printed on an official form (or its instructions). The number and the notice are included on the official paper format and in other formats produced by the IRS (for example, DVD (Publication 1796) or IRS.gov download).

Part 3
Physical Aspects and Requirements

Section 3.1 — General Guidelines for Substitute Forms

3.1.1
General Information

The official form is the standard. Because a substitute form is a variation from the official form, you should know the requirements of the official form for the year of use before you modify it to meet your needs. The IRS provides several means of obtaining the most frequently used tax forms. These include IRS.gov and the IRS tax products DVD (see Part 4).

3.1.2
Design

Each form must follow the design of the official form as to format arrangement, item caption, line numbers, line references, and sequence.

3.1.3
State Tax Information Prohibited

Generally, state tax information must not appear on the federal tax return, associated form, or schedule that is filed with the IRS. Exceptions occur when amounts are claimed on, or required by, the federal return (for example, state and local income taxes, on Schedule A of Form 1040).

3.1.4
Vertical Alignment of Amount Fields

IF a form is to be...   THEN...
Manually prepared 1. The entry column must have a vertical line or some type of indicator in the amount field to separate dollars from cents.
  2. The cents column must be at least 3/10″ wide.
Computer generated 1. Vertically align the amount entry fields where possible.
  2. Use one of the following amount formats:
    a) 0,000,000, or
    b) 0,000,000.00.
Computer prepared 1. You may remove the vertical line in the amount field that separates dollars from cents.
  2. Use one of the following amount formats:
    a) 0,000,000, or
    b) 0,000,000.00.

3.1.5
Attachment Sequence Number

Many individual income tax forms have a required “attachment sequence number” located just below the year designation in the upper right corner of the form. The IRS uses this number to indicate the order in which forms are to be attached to the tax return for processing. Some of the attachment sequence numbers may change from year to year.

The following applies to computer prepared forms.

  • The sequence number may be printed in no less than 12-point boldface type and centered below the form’s year designation.

  • The sequence number may also be placed following the year designation for the tax form and separated with an asterisk.

  • The actual number may be printed without labeling it the “Attachment Sequence Number.”

3.1.6
Assembly of Forms

When developing software or forms for use by others, please inform your customers/clients that the order in which the forms are arranged may affect the processing of the package. A return must be arranged in the order indicated below.

IF the form is... THEN the sequence is...
1040 • Form 1040, and • Schedules and forms in attachment sequence number order.
Any other tax return (Form 1120, 1120S, 1065, 1041, etc.) • The tax returns, • Directly associated schedules (Schedule D, etc.), • Directly associated forms, • Additional schedules in alphabetical order, and • Additional forms in numerical order.

Supporting statements should then follow in the same sequence as the forms they support. Additional information required should be attached last.

In this way, the forms are received in the order in which they must be processed. If you do not send returns to the IRS in order, processing may be delayed.

3.1.7
Paid Preparer’s Information and Signature Area

On Forms 1040EZ, 1040A, 1040, and 1120, etc., the “Paid Preparer Use Only” area may not be rearranged or relocated. You may, however, add three extra lines to the paid preparer’s address area without prior approval. This applies to other tax forms as well.

3.1.8
Some Common Reasons for Requiring Changes to Substitute Forms

Some reasons that substitute form submissions may require changes include the following.

  • Failing to preprint certain amounts in entry spaces.

  • Shading areas incorrectly.

  • Failing to include a reference to the location of the Paperwork Reduction Act Notice.

  • Not including parentheses for losses.

  • Not including “Attach Statement” when appropriate.

  • Including line references or entry spaces that don’t match the official form.

  • Printing text that is different from the official form.

  • Altering the jurat (perjury statement).

Section 3.2 — Paper

3.2.1
Paper Content

The paper must be:

  • Chemical wood writing paper that is equal to or better than the quality used for the official form,

  • At least 18 pound (17″ x 22″, 500 sheets), or

  • At least 50 pound offset book (25″ x 38″, 500 sheets).

3.2.2
Paper with Chemical Transfer Properties

There are several kinds of paper prohibited for substitute forms. These are:

  1. Carbon-bonded paper, and

  2. Chemical transfer paper except when the following specifications are met:

    1. Each ply within the chemical transfer set of forms must be labeled, and

    2. Only the top ply (ply one and white in color), the one that contains chemical on
      the back only (coated back), may be filed with the IRS.

3.2.3
Example

A set containing three plies would be constructed as follows: ply one (coated back), “Federal Return, File with IRS”; ply two (coated front and back), “Taxpayer’s copy”; and ply three (coated front), “Preparer’s copy.”

The file designation, “Federal Return, File with IRS” for ply one, must be printed in the bottom right margin (just below the last line of the form) in 12-point boldface type.

It is not mandatory, but recommended, that the file designation “Federal Return, File with IRS” be printed in a contrasting ink for visual emphasis.

3.2.4
Paper and Ink Color

It is preferred that the color and opacity of paper substantially duplicates that of the original form. This means that your substitute must be printed in black ink and may be on white or on the colored paper the IRS form is printed on. Forms 1040A and 1040 substitute reproductions may be in black ink without the colored shading. The only exception to this rule is Form 1041-ES, which should be printed with a PMS 100 yellow shading in the color screened area. This is necessary to assist us in expeditiously separating this form from the very similar Form 1040-ES.

3.2.5
Page Size

Substitute or reproduced forms and computer prepared/generated substitutes may be the same size as the official form or they may be the standard commercial size (8 1/2″ x 11″). The thickness of the stock cannot be less than .003 inches.

Section 3.3 — Printing

3.3.1
Printing Medium

The private printing of all substitute tax forms must be by conventional printing processes, photocopying, computer graphics, or similar reproduction processes.

3.3.2
Legibility

All forms must have a high standard of legibility as to printing, reproduction, and fill-in matter. Entries of taxpayer data may be no smaller than eight points. The IRS reserves the right to reject those with poor legibility. The ink and printing method used must ensure that no part of a form (including text, graphics, data entries, etc.) develops “smears” or similar quality deterioration. This standard must be followed for any subsequent copies or reproductions made from an approved master substitute form, either during preparation or during IRS processing.

3.3.3
Type Font

Many federal tax forms are printed using “Helvetica” as the basic type font. It is preferred that you use this type font when composing substitute forms.

3.3.4
Print Spacing

Substitute forms should be printed using a 6 lines/inch vertical print option. They should also be printed horizontally in 10 pitch pica (that is, 10 print characters per inch) or 12 pitch elite (that is, 12 print positions per inch).

3.3.5
Image Size

The image size of a printed substitute form should be as close as possible to that of the official form. You may omit any text on both computer prepared and computer generated forms that is solely instructional.

3.3.6
Title Area Changes

To allow a large top margin for marginal printing and more lines per page, the title line(s) for all substitute forms (not including the form’s year designation and sequence number, when present), may be photographically reduced by 40 percent or reset as one line of type. When reset as one line, the type size may be no smaller than 14-point. You may omit “Department of the Treasury—Internal Revenue Service” and all reference to instructions in the form’s title area.

3.3.7
Remove Government Printing Office Symbol and IRS Catalog Number

When privately printing substitute tax forms, the Government Printing Office (GPO) symbol and/or jacket number must be removed. In the same place using the same type size, print the Employer Identification Number (EIN) of the printer or designer or the IRS assigned source code. (We prefer this last number be printed in the lower left area of the first page of each form.) Also, remove the IRS Catalog Number (Cat. No.) and the recycle symbol if the substitute is not produced on recycled paper.

3.3.8
Printing on One Side of Paper

Even though the IRS uses both sides of the paper for printing official paper forms or schedules, the IRS will accept your forms if only one side of the paper is used.

3.3.9
Photocopy Equipment

The IRS does not undertake to approve or disapprove the specific equipment or process used in reproducing official forms. Photocopies of forms must be entirely legible and satisfy the conditions stated in this and other revenue procedures.

3.3.10
Reproductions

Reproductions of official forms and substitute forms that do not meet the requirements of this revenue procedure may not be filed instead of the official forms. Illegible photocopies are subject to being returned to the filer for re-submission of legible copies.

3.3.11
Removal of Instructions

Generally, you may remove references to instructions. No prior approval is needed. However in some instances, you may be requested to include references to instructions.

Note

Exception. The words “For Paperwork Reduction Act Notice, see instructions” must be retained or a similar statement indicating the location of the Notice must be provided on each form.

Section 3.4 — Margins

3.4.1
Margin Size

The format of a reproduced tax form when printed on the page must have margins on all sides at least as large as the margins on the official form. This allows room for IRS employees to make necessary entries on the form during processing.

  • A 1/2-inch to 1/4-inch margin must be maintained across the top, bottom, and both sides of all substitute forms.

  • The marginal, perforated strips containing pin-fed holes must be removed from all forms prior to filing with the IRS.

3.4.2
Marginal Printing

Prior approval is not required for the marginal printing allowed when printed on an official form or on a photocopy of an official form.

  • With the exception of the actual tax forms (for example, Forms 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ, 1120, 940, 941, etc.), you may print in the left vertical margin and in the left half of the bottom margin.

  • Printing is never allowed in the top right margin of the tax form (for example, Forms 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ, 1120, 940, 941, etc.). The Service uses this area to imprint a Document Locator Number for each return. There are no exceptions to this requirement.

Section 3.5 — Examples of Approved Formats

3.5.1
Examples of Approved Formats From the Exhibits

Two sets of exhibits (Exhibits A-1 and 2; B-1 and 2) at the end of this revenue procedure are examples of how these guidelines may be used. Vertical spacing is six (6) lines to the inch. A combination of upper-case and lower-case print font is acceptable in producing substitute forms.

The same logic may be applied to any IRS form that is normally reproducible as a substitute form, with the exception of the tax return forms as discussed elsewhere.

Note

Note. These exhibits may be from a prior year and are not to be used as current substitute forms.

Section 3.6 — Miscellaneous Information for Substitute Forms

3.6.1
Filing Substitute Forms

To be acceptable for filing, a substitute form must print out in a format that will allow the filer to follow the same instructions that accompany official forms. The form must be legible, must be on the appropriately sized paper, and must include a jurat (perjury statement) where one appears on the published form.

3.6.2
Caution to Software Publishers

The IRS has received returns produced by software packages with approved output where either the form heading was altered or the lines were spaced irregularly. This produces an illegible or unrecognizable return or a return with the wrong number of pages. We realize that many of these problems are caused by individual printer differences but they may delay input of return data and, in some cases, generate correspondence to the taxpayer. Therefore, in the instructions to the purchasers of your product, both individual and professional, please stress that their returns will be processed more efficiently if they are properly formatted. This includes:

  • Having the correct form numbers and titles at the top of the return, and

  • Submitting the same number of pages as if the form were an official IRS form with the line items on the proper pages.

3.6.3
Caution to Producers of Software Packages

If you are producing a software package that generates name and address data onto the tax return, do not under any circumstances program either the IRS preprinted check digits or a practitioner derived name control to appear on any return prepared and filed with the IRS.

3.6.4
Programming to Print Forms

Whenever applicable:

  • Use only the following label information format for single filers: JOHN Q. PUBLIC 310 OAK DRIVE HOMETOWN, STATE 94000

  • Use only the following information for joint filers: JOHN Q. PUBLIC MARY I. PUBLIC 310 OAK DRIVE HOMETOWN, STATE 94000

Part 4
Additional Resources

Section 4.1 — Guidance From Other Revenue Procedures

4.1.1
General

The IRS publications listed below provide guidance for substitute tax forms not covered in this revenue procedure. These publications are available on the IRS website. Identify the requested document by the IRS publication number.

  • Publication 1141, General Rules and Specifications for Substitute Forms W-2 and W-3.

  • Publication 1179, General Rules and Specifications for Substitute Forms 1096, 1098, 1099, 5498, and Certain Other Information Returns.

  • Publication 1187, Specifications for Filing Form 1042-S, Foreign Person’s U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding, Electronically.

  • Publication 1220, Specifications for Filing Forms 1097-BTC, 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922, 5498, 8935, and W-2G Electronically.

  • Publication 1223, General Rules and Specifications for Substitute Forms W-2c and W-3c.

  • Publication 1239, Specifications for Filing Form 8027, Employer’s Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips, Electronically.

  • Publication 1345, Handbook for Authorized IRS e-file Providers of Individual Income Tax Returns.

  • Publication 4436, General Rules and Specifications for Substitute Form 941, Schedule B (Form 941) and Schedule R (Form 941).

Section 4.2 — Electronic Tax Products

4.2.1
The IRS Website

Copies of tax forms with instructions, publications, draft forms, fillable forms, prior year forms and publications, and other tax-related information may be found on the IRS website at IRS.gov.

Section 4.3 — IRS Tax Products on DVD (Publication 1796)

4.3.1
Information About IRS Tax Products DVD

The DVD contains approximately 2,500 tax forms and publications for small businesses, return preparers, and others who frequently need current or prior year tax products. Most current tax forms on the DVD may be filled in electronically, then printed out for submission and saved for recordkeeping. Other products on the DVD include the Internal Revenue Bulletins, Tax Supplements, and Internet resources for the tax professional with links to the World Wide Web.

4.3.2
System Requirements and How To Order the IRS Tax Products DVD

For system requirements, contact the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) at http://www.ntis.gov. Prices are subject to change.

The cost of the DVD if purchased from NTIS via IRS.gov at http://www.irs.gov/formspubs/article/0,,id=108660,00.html is $30 (with no handling fee).

If purchased using the following methods, the cost for each DVD is $30 (plus a $6 handling fee). These methods are:

  • By phone — 1-877-CDFORMS (1-877-233-6767) — for IRS DVD purchase only,

  • By fax — 703-605-6900 — for IRS DVD purchase only,

  • By mail to:

    National Technical Information Service
    5301 Shawnee Road
    Alexandria, VA 22312

Part 5
Requirements for Specific Tax Returns

Section 5.1 — Tax Returns (Forms 1040, 1040A, 1120, etc.)

5.1.1
Acceptable Forms

Tax forms (such as Forms 1040, 1040A, and 1120) require a signature and establish tax liability. Computer generated versions are acceptable under the following conditions.

  • These substitute forms must be printed on plain white paper.

  • Substitute forms must conform to the physical layout of the corresponding IRS form although the typeface may differ. The text should match the text on the officially published form as closely as possible. Condensed text and abbreviations will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Caution. All jurats (perjury statements) must be reproduced verbatim. No text can be added, deleted, or changed in meaning.

  • Various computer graphic print media such as laser printing, inkjet printing, etc., may be used to produce the substitute forms.

  • The substitute form must be the same number of pages and contain the same line text as the official form.

  • All substitute forms must be submitted for approval prior to their original use. You do not need approval for a substitute form if its only change is the preprinted year and you had received a prior year approval letter.

    Exception. If the approval letter specifies a one time exception for your form, the next year’s form must be approved.

5.1.2
Prohibited Forms

The following are prohibited.

  • Computer generated tax forms (for example, Form 1040, etc.) on lined or color barred paper.

  • Tax forms that differ from the official IRS forms in a manner that makes them non-standard or unable to process.

5.1.3
Changes Permitted to Forms 1040 and 1040A

Certain changes (listed in Sections 5.2 through 5.4) are permitted to the graphics of the form without prior approval, but these changes apply to only acceptable preprinted forms. Changes not requiring prior approval are good only for the annual filing period, which is the current tax year. Such changes are valid in subsequent years only if the official form does not change.

5.1.4
Other Changes Not Listed

All changes not listed in Sections 5.2 through 5.4 require approval from the IRS before the form can be filed.

Section 5.2 — Changes Permitted to Graphics (Forms 1040A and 1040)

5.2.1
Adjustments

You may make minor vertical and horizontal spacing adjustments to allow for computer or word processing printing. This includes widening the amount columns or tax entry areas if the adjustments comply with other provisions stated in revenue procedures. No prior approval is needed for these changes.

5.2.2
Name and Address Area

The horizontal rules and instructions within the name and address area may be removed and the entire area left blank. No line or instruction can remain in the area. The heavy ruled border (when present) that outlines the name, address area, and social security number must not be removed, relocated, expanded, or contracted.

5.2.3
Required Format

When the name and address area is left blank, the following format must be used when printing the taxpayer’s name and address.

  • 1st name line (35 characters maximum).

  • 2nd name line (35 characters maximum).

  • In-care-of name line (35 characters maximum).

  • City, state (25 characters maximum), one blank character, and ZIP code.

5.2.4
Conventional Name and Address Data

When there is no in-care-of name line, the name and address will consist of only three lines (single filer) or four lines (joint filer). Name and address (joint filer) with no in-care-of name line:

JOHN Z. JONES
MARY I. JONES
1234 ANYWHERE ST., APT. 111
ANYTOWN, STATE 12321

5.2.5
Example of In-Care-Of Name Line

Name and address (single filer) with in-care-of name line:

JOHN Z. JONES
C/O THOMAS A. JONES
4311 SOMEWHERE AVE.
SAMETOWN, STATE 54345

5.2.6
SSN and Employer Identification Number (EIN) Area

The broken vertical lines separating the format arrangement of the SSN/EIN may be removed. When the vertical lines are removed, the SSN and EIN formats must be 000-00-0000 or 00-0000000, respectively.

5.2.7
Cents Column

  • You may remove the vertical rule that separates the dollars from the cents.

  • All entries in the amount column should have a decimal point following the whole dollar amounts whether or not the vertical line that separates the dollars from the cents is present.

  • You may omit printing the cents, but all amounts entered on the form must follow a consistent format. You are strongly urged to round off the figures to whole dollar amounts, following the official form instructions.

  • When several amounts are summed together, the total should be rounded off after addition (that is, individual amounts should not be rounded off for computation purposes).

  • When printing money amounts, you must use one of the following formats: (a) 0,000,000.; (b) 0,000,000.00.

  • When there is no entry for a line, leave the line blank.

5.2.8
“Paid Preparer’s Use Only” Area

On all forms, the paid preparer’s information area may not be rearranged or relocated. You may add three lines and remove the horizontal rules in the preparer’s address area.

Section 5.3 — Changes Permitted to Form 1040A Graphics

5.3.1
General

No prior approval is needed for the following changes (for use with computer prepared forms only).

5.3.2
Line 4 of Form 1040A

This line may be compressed horizontally (to allow for same line entry for the name of the qualifying child) by using the following caption: “Head of household; child’s name” (name field).

5.3.3
Other Lines

Any line with text that takes up two or more vertical lines may be compressed to one line by using contractions, etc., and by removing instructional references.

5.3.4
Page 2 of Form 1040A

All lines must be present and numbered in the order shown on the official form. These lines may also be compressed.

5.3.5
Color Screening

It is not necessary to duplicate the color screening used on the official form. A substitute Form 1040A may be printed in black and white only with no color screening.

5.3.6
Other Changes Prohibited

No other changes to the Form 1040A graphics are allowed without prior approval except for the removal of instructions and references to instructions.

Section 5.4 — Changes Permitted to Form 1040 Graphics

5.4.1
General

No prior approval is needed for the following changes (for use with computer prepared forms only). Specific line numbers in the following headings may have changed due to tax law changes.

5.4.2
Line 4 of Form 1040

This line may be compressed horizontally (to allow for a larger entry area for the name of the qualifying child) by using the following caption: “Head of household; child’s name” (name field).

5.4.3
Line 6c of Form 1040

The vertical lines separating columns (1) through (4) may be removed. The captions may be shortened to allow a one line caption for each column.

5.4.4
Other Lines

Any other line with text that takes up two or more vertical lines may be compressed to one line by using contractions, etc., and by removing instructional references.

5.4.5
Line 21 — Other Income

The fill-in portion of this line may be expanded vertically to three lines. The amount entry box must remain a single entry.

5.4.6
Line 44 of Form 1040 — Tax

You may change the line caption to read “Tax” and computer print the words “Total includes tax from” and either “Form(s) 8814” or “Form 4972” or “962 election.” If both forms are used, print both form numbers. This specific line number may have changed.

5.4.7
Line 53 of Form 1040 — Other Credits

You may change the caption to read: “Other credits from Form” and computer print only the form(s) that apply.

5.4.8
Color Screening

It is not necessary to duplicate the color screening used on the official form. A substitute Form 1040 may be printed in black and white only with no color screening.

5.4.9
Other Changes Prohibited

No other changes to the Form 1040 graphics are permitted without prior approval except for the removal of instructions and references to instructions.

Part 6
Format and Content of Substitute Returns

Section 6.1 — Acceptable Formats for Substitute Forms and Schedules

6.1.1
Exhibits and Use of Acceptable Formats

Exhibits of acceptable formats for Schedule A, usually attached to the Form 1040, and Form 2106-EZ are shown in the exhibits section of this revenue procedure.

  • If your computer generated forms appear exactly like the exhibits, no prior authorization is needed.

  • You may computer generate forms not shown here, but you must design them by following the manner and style of those in the exhibits section.

  • Take care to observe other requirements and conditions in this revenue procedure. The IRS encourages the submission of all proposed forms covered by this revenue procedure.

6.1.2
Instructions

The format of each substitute form or schedule must follow the format of the official form or schedule as to item captions, line references, line numbers, sequence, form arrangement and format, etc. Basically, try to make the form look like the official one, with readability and consistency being primary factors. You may use periods and/or other similar special characters to separate the various parts and sections of the form. Do not use alpha or numeric characters for these purposes. All line numbers and items must be printed even though an amount is not entered on the line.

6.1.3
Line Numbers

When a line on an official form is designated by a number or a letter, that designation (reference code) must be used on a substitute form. The reference code must be printed to the left of the text of each line and immediately preceding the data entry field, even if no reference code precedes the data entry field on the official form. If an entry field contains multiple lines and shows the line references once on the left and right side of the form, use the same number of line references on the substitute form.

In addition, the reference code that is immediately before the data field must either be followed by a period or enclosed in parentheses. There also must be at least two blank spaces between the period or the right parenthesis and the first digit of the data field. (See Section 6.1.4.)

6.1.4
Decimal Points

A decimal point (that is, a period) should be used for each money amount regardless of whether the amount is reported in dollars and cents or in whole dollars, or whether or not the vertical line that separates the dollars from the cents is present. The decimal points must be vertically aligned when possible.

  Example:  
  5 STATE & LOCAL INC. TAXES 5. 495.00  
  6 REAL ESTATE TAXES 6.    
  7 PERSONAL PROPERTY TAXES 7. 198.00  
  5 or STATE & LOCAL INC. TAXES (5) 495.00  
  6 REAL ESTATE TAXES (6)    
  7 PERSONAL PROPERTY TAXES (7) 198.00  
           

6.1.5
Multi-Page Forms

When submitting a multi-page form, send all its pages in the same package.

Note

Exception. If you will not be producing certain pages, please note that in your cover letter.

Section 6.2 — Additional Instructions for All Forms

6.2.1
Use of Your Own Internal Control Numbers and Identifying Symbols

You may show the computer prepared internal control numbers and identifying symbols on the substitute if using such numbers or symbols is acceptable to the taxpayer and the taxpayer’s representative. Such information must not be printed in the top 1/2 inch clear area of any form or schedule requiring a signature. Except for the actual tax return form (Forms 1040, 11ID Number on 20, 940, 941, etc.), you may print in the left vertical and bottom left margins. The bottom left margin you may use extends 3 1/2 inches from the left edge of the form.

6.2.2
Required Software ID Number (Source Code) on Computer Prepared Substitutes

In the February 2009 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, “Many Taxpayers Rely on Tax Software and IRS Needs to Assess Associated Risks” (GAO-09-297), GAO recommended that IRS require a software identification number on all individual returns to specifically identify the software package used to prepare each tax return. IRS already has this capability for all e-filed returns. In addition, many tax preparation software firms already print an IRS-issued 3-letter Source Code on paper returns that are generated by their individual tax software. This Source Code was assigned when the firms were seeking substitute forms approval under Publication 1167 (this publication).

In order to respond properly to this GAO recommendation, the IRS will require all tax preparation software firms to include the 3-letter Source Code on all paper tax returns created by their individual tax preparation software. The many firms that currently have and display their Source Code on paper returns generated from their software should continue to do so, and no change is necessary.

We have reviewed all software companies that passed PATS testing last filing season and have determined that some firms do not currently have a Source Code. To save you the burden of contacting us and for your convenience, we have assigned Source Codes to those firms.

You should program your Source Code to be placed in the bottom left hand corner of page one of each paper form that will be generated by your individual tax return package. You do not need to apply for a new Source Code annually.

If you already use a 3-letter Source Code and we have issued you one in error, you are unsure if you were ever issued one, or have other questions or concerns, you may contact Tax Forms and Publications Special Services Section at substituteforms@irs.gov.

6.2.3
Descriptions for Captions, Lines, etc.

Descriptions for captions, lines, etc., appearing on the substitute forms may be limited to one print line by using abbreviations and contractions, and by omitting articles, prepositions, etc. However, sufficient key words must be retained to permit ready identification of the caption, line, or item.

6.2.4
Determining Final Totals

Explanatory detail and/or intermediate calculations for determining final line totals may be included on the substitute. We prefer that such calculations be submitted in the form of a supporting statement. If intermediate calculations are included on the substitute, the line on which they appear may not be numbered or lettered. Intermediate calculations may not be printed in the right column. This column is reserved only for official numbered and lettered lines that correspond to the ones on the official form. Generally, you may choose the format for intermediate calculations or subtotals on supporting statements to be submitted.

6.2.5
Instructional Text on the Official Form

Text on the official form, which is solely instructional (for example, “See instructions.” etc.), may generally be omitted from the substitute form.

6.2.6
Mixing Forms on the Same Page Prohibited

You may not show more than one form or schedule on the same printout page. Both sides of the paper may be printed for multi-page official forms, but it is unacceptable to intermix single page schedules of forms.

For instance, Schedule E can be printed on both sides of the paper because the official form is multi-page, with page 2 continued on the back. However, do not print Schedule E on the front page and Schedule SE on the back, or Schedule A on the front and Form 8615 on the back, etc. Both pages of a substitute form must match the official form. The back page may be left blank if the back page of the official form contains only the instructions.

6.2.7
Identifying Substitutes

Identify all computer prepared substitutes clearly. Print the form designation 1/2 inch from the top margin and 11/2 inches from the left margin. Print the title centered on the first line of print. Print the taxable year and, where applicable, the sequence number on the same line 1/2 inch to 1 inch from the right margin. Include the taxpayer’s name and SSN on all forms and attachments. Also, print the OMB number as reflected on the official form.

6.2.8
Negative Amounts

Negative (or loss) amount entries should be enclosed in brackets or parentheses or include a minus sign. This assists in accurate computation and input of form data. The IRS pre-prints parentheses in negative data fields on many official forms. These parentheses should be retained or inserted on printouts of affected substitute forms.

Part 7
Miscellaneous Forms and Programs

Section 7.1 — Specifications for Substitute Schedules K-1

7.1.1
Requirements for Schedules K-1 That Accompany Forms 1041, 1065, 1065-B, and 1120S

Because of significant changes to improve processing, prior approval is now required for substitute Schedules K-1 that accompany Form 1041 (for estates and trusts), Form 1065 (for partnerships), Form 1065-B (for electing large partnerships), or Form 1120S (for S corporations). Substitute Schedules K-1 should be as close as possible to exact replicas of copies of the official IRS schedules and follow the same process for submitting other substitute forms and schedules. Before releasing their substitute forms, software vendors are responsible for making any subsequent changes that have been made to the final official IRS forms after the draft forms have been posted.

You must include all information on the form. Submit Schedules K-1 to the IRS at substituteforms@irs.gov with “Attn: PDF Submissions” on the subject line or at:

Internal Revenue Service
Attn: Substitute Forms Program
SE:W:CAR:MP:T:M:S
1111 Constitution Avenue, NW
Room 6526
Washington, DC 20224

Include the 6-digit form ID code in the upper right of Schedules K-1 of Forms 1041, 1065, and 1120S. Please allow white space around the 6-digit code.

  • 661112 for Form 1041,

  • 651112 for Form 1065, and

  • 671112 for Form 1120S.

Schedules K-1 that accompany Forms 1041, 1065, 1065-B, or 1120S must meet all specifications. The specifications include, but are not limited to, the following requirements.

  • You will no longer be able to produce Schedules K-1 that contain only those lines or boxes that taxpayers are required to use. All lines must be included.

  • The words “*See attached statement for additional information.” must be preprinted in the lower right hand side on Schedules K-1 of Forms 1041, 1065, and 1120S.

  • All K-1s that are filed with the IRS should be printed on standard 8.5” x 11” paper (the international standard (A4) of 8.27” x 11.69” may be substituted).

  • Each recipient’s information must be on a separate sheet of paper. Therefore, you must separate all continuously printed substitutes, by recipient, before filing with the IRS.

  • No carbon copies or pressure-sensitive copies will be accepted.

  • The Schedule K-1 must contain the name, address, and SSN or EIN of both the entity (estate, trust, partnership, or S corporation) and the recipient (beneficiary, partner, or shareholder).

  • The Schedule K-1 must contain the tax year, the OMB number, the schedule number (K-1), the related form number (1041, 1065, 1065-B, or 1120S), and the official schedule name in substantially the same position and format as shown on the official IRS schedule.

  • The Schedule K-1 must contain all the line items as shown on the official form, except for the instructions, if any are printed on the back of the official Schedule K-1.

  • The line items or boxes must be in the same order and arrangement as those on the official form.

  • The amount of each recipient’s share of each item must be shown. Furnishing a total amount of each item and a percentage (or decimal equivalent) to be applied to such total amount by the recipient does not satisfy the law and the specifications of this revenue procedure.

  • State or local tax-related information may not be included on the Schedules K-1 filed with the IRS.

  • The entity may have to pay a penalty if substitute Schedules K-1 are filed that do not conform to specifications.

  • Additionally, the IRS may consider the Schedules K-1 that do not conform to specifications as not being able to be processed and may return Forms 1041, 1065, 1065-B, or 1120S to the filer to be filed correctly.

Schedules K-1 that are 2-D bar-coded will continue to require prior approval from the IRS (see Sections 7.1.3 through 7.1.5).

7.1.2
Special Requirements for Recipient Copies of Schedules K-1

Standardization for reporting information is required for recipient copies of substitute Schedules K-1 of Forms 1041, 1065, 1065-B, and 1120S. Uniform visual standards are provided to increase compliance by allowing recipients and practitioners to more easily recognize a substitute Schedule K-1. The entity must furnish to each recipient a copy of Schedule K-1 that meets the following requirements.

  • Include the 6-digit form ID code in the upper right of Schedules K-1 of Forms 1041, 1065, and 1120S. Please allow white space around the 6-digit code.

    • 661112 for Form 1041,

    • 651112 for Form 1065, and

    • 671112 for Form 1120S.

  • You will no longer be able to produce Schedules K-1 that contain only those lines or boxes that taxpayers are required to use. All lines must be included.

  • Both pages 1 and 2 of Schedules K-1 of Forms 1065 and 1120S must be provided to each recipient.

  • The words “*See attached statement for additional information.” must be preprinted in the lower right hand side on Schedules K-1 of Forms 1041, 1065, and 1120S.

  • The Schedule K-1 must contain the name, address, and SSN or EIN of both the entity and recipient.

  • The Schedule K-1 must contain the tax year, the OMB number, the schedule number (K-1), the related form number (1041, 1065, 1065-B, or 1120S), and the official schedule name in substantially the same position and format as shown on the official IRS schedule.

  • All applicable amounts and information required to be reported must be titled and numbered in the same manner as shown on the official IRS schedule. The line items or boxes must be in the same order and arrangement and must be numbered like those on the official IRS schedule.

  • The Schedule K-1 must contain all items required for use by the recipient. The instructions to the schedule must identify the line or box number and code, if any, for each item as shown in the official IRS schedule.

  • The amount of each recipient’s share of each item must be shown. Furnishing a total amount of each line item and a percentage (or decimal equivalent) to be applied to such total amount by the recipient does not satisfy the law and the specifications of this revenue procedure.

  • Instructions to the recipient that are substantially similar to those on or accompanying the official IRS schedule must be provided to aid in the proper reporting of the items on the recipient’s income tax return. Where items are not reported to a recipient because they do not apply, the related instructions may be omitted.

  • The quality of the ink or other material used to generate recipients’ schedules must produce clearly legible documents. In general, black chemical transfer inks are preferred.

  • In order to assure uniformity of substitute Schedules K-1, the paper size should be standard 8.5” x 11” (the international standard (A4) of 8.27” x 11.69” may be substituted.)

  • The paper weight, paper color, font type, font size, font color, and page layout must be such that the average recipient can easily decipher the information on each page.

  • State or local tax-related information may be included on recipient copies of substitute Schedules K-1. All non-tax-related information should be separated from the tax information on the substitute schedule to avoid confusion for the recipient.

  • The legend “Important Tax Return Document Enclosed” must appear in a bold and conspicuous manner on the outside of the envelope that contains the substitute recipient copy of Schedule K-1.

  • The entity may have to pay a penalty if a substitute Schedule K-1 furnished to any recipient does not conform to the specifications of this revenue procedure and results in impeding processing.

7.1.3
Requirements for Schedules K-1 with Two-Dimensional (2-D) Bar Codes

Electronic filing is now and will continue to be the preferred method of filing; however, 2-D bar code is the best alternative method for paper processing.

In an effort to improve efficiency and at the same time increase data accuracy, the IRS partnered with the tax software development community on a two-dimensional bar code project in 2003. Certain tax software packages have been modified to generate 2-D bar codes on Schedules K-1. As a result, when K-1’s are printed using these programs, a bar code will print on the page.

Rather than manually transcribe information from the Schedule K-1, the IRS will scan the bar code and electronically upload the information from the K-1. The results will be more efficient operation within the IRS and fewer transcription errors for your clients.

Note

Note. If software vendors do not want to produce bar-coded Schedules K-1, they may produce the official IRS Schedules K-1 but cannot use the expedited process for approving bar-coded K-1s and their parent returns as outlined in Section 7.1.6.

In addition to the requirements in Sections 7.1.1 and 7.1.2, the bar-coded Schedules K-1 must meet the following specifications.

  • The bar code should print in the space labeled “For IRS Use Only” on each Schedule K-1. The entire bar code must print within the “For IRS Use Only” box surrounded by a white space of at least 1/4 inch.

  • Bar codes must print in PDF 417 format.

  • The bar codes must always be in the specified format with every field represented by at least a field delimiter (carriage return). Leaving out a field in a bar code will cause every subsequent field to be misread.

  • Be sure to include the 6-digit form ID code in the upper right of Schedules K-1 of Forms 1041, 1065, and 1120S. Please allow white space around the 6-digit code.

    • 661112 for Form 1041,

    • 651112 for Form 1065, and

    • 671112 for Form 1120S.

7.1.4
2-D Bar Code Specifications for Schedules K-1

Follow these general specifications for preparing all 2-D bar-coded Schedules K-1.

  • Numeric fields —

    • Do not include leading zeros (except Taxpayer Identification Numbers, Zip Codes, and percentages).

    • If negative value, the minus sign “-” must be present immediately to the left of the number and part of the 12 position field.

    • Do not use non-numeric characters except that the literal “STMT” can be put in money fields.

    • All money fields should be rounded to the nearest whole dollar amount — If a money amount ends in 00 to 49 cents, drop the cents; if it ends in 50 to 99 cents, truncate the cents and increment the dollar amount by one. Use the same rounding technique for the bar-coded and the printed K-1s.

    • All numeric-only fields are right justified (except Taxpayer Identification Numbers and Zip Codes).

  • All field lengths are expressed as maximum lengths. If the value in the field has fewer positions or the software program does not support that many positions, put in the bar code only those positions actually used.

  • Alpha fields —

    • Do not include leading blanks (left justified).

    • Do not include trailing blanks.

    • Use uppercase alpha characters only.

  • Variable fields —

    • Do not include leading blanks (left justified).

    • Do not include trailing blanks.

    • Use uppercase alpha characters, numerics, and special characters as defined in each field.

  • Delimit each field with a carriage return.

  • Express percentages as 6-digit numbers without the percent sign. Left justify with leading zero(s) (for percentages less than 100%) and no decimal point (decimal point is assumed between 3rd and 4th positions). Examples: 25.32% expressed as “025320”; 105% expressed as “105000”; 8.275% expressed as “008275”; 10.24674% express as “010247”.

  • It is vital that the print routine reinitialize the bar code prior to printing each succeeding K-1. Failure to do this will result in each K-1 for a parent return having the same bar code as the document before it.

7.1.5
Approval Process for Bar-Coded Schedules K-1

Prior to releasing commercially available tax software that creates bar-coded Schedules K-1, the printed schedule and the bar code must both be tested. If your company is creating bar coded Schedules K-1, you must receive certification for both the printed K-1, as well as the bar code before offering your product for sale. Bar code testing must be done using the final official IRS Schedule K-1. Bar code approval requests must be resubmitted for any subsequent changes to the official IRS form that would affect the bar code. Below are instructions and a sequence of events that will comprise the testing process.

  • The IRS has released the final Schedule K-1 bar-code specifications by publishing them on the IRS.gov website (see http://www.irs.gov/uac/ Schedule-K-1,-Two-Dimensional-Bar-Code-Specification-and-Certification-Process).

  • The IRS will publish a set of test documents that will be used to test the ability of tax preparation software to create bar codes in the correct format.

  • Software developers will submit two identical copies of the test documents — one to the IRS and one to a contracted testing vendor.

  • The IRS will use one set to ensure the printed schedules comply with standard substitute forms specifications.

  • If the printed forms fail to meet the substitute form criteria, the IRS will inform the software developer of the reason for noncompliance.

  • The software developer must resubmit the Schedule(s) K-1 until they pass the substitute forms criteria.

  • The testing vendor will review the bar codes to ensure they meet the published bar-code specifications.

  • If the bar code(s) does not meet published specifications, the testing vendor will contact the software developer directly informing them of the reason for noncompliance.

  • Software developers must submit new bar-coded schedules until they pass the bar-code test.

  • When the bar code passes, the testing vendor will inform the IRS that the developer has passed the bar-code test and the IRS will issue an overall approval for both the substitute form and the bar code.

  • After receiving this consolidated response, the software vendor is free to release software for tax preparation as long as any subsequent revisions to the schedules do not change the fields.

  • Find the mailing address for the testing vendor below. Separate and simultaneous mailings to the IRS and the vendor will reduce testing time.

7.1.6
Procedures for Reducing Testing Time

In order to help provide incentives to the software development community to participate in the Schedule K-1 2-D project, the IRS has committed to expediting the testing of bar-coded Schedules K-1 and their associated parent returns. To receive this expedited service, follow the instructions below.

  • Mail the parent returns (Forms 1065, 1120S, 1041) and associated bar-coded Schedule(s) K-1 to the appropriate address below in a separate package from all other approval requests.

    Internal Revenue Service
    Attn: Bar-Coded K-1
    SE:W:CAR:MP:T:M:S, IR 6526
    1111 Constitution Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20224

  • Mail one copy of the parent form(s) and Schedule(s) K-1 to the IRS and another copy to the testing vendor at the address below.

    Northrop Grumman Information Systems
    Attn: Cecilia Siamundo/ Elizabeth Ragonese
    7555 Colshire Drive
    McLean, VA 22102
    Phone: 703-556-3619

  • Include multiple email and phone contact points in the packages.

  • While the IRS can expedite bar-coded Schedules K-1 and their associated parent returns, it cannot expedite the approval of non-associated tax returns.

  • Vendors should comply with all NACTP guidelines especially in regards to mil size and error correction level.

  • Submissions should include vendor ID code printed and in the bar code.

  • If a change is made to the bar code after approval, be sure to increment the version number.

Section 7.2 — Guidelines for Substitute Forms 8655

7.2.1
Increased Standardization for Forms 8655

Increased standardization for reporting information on substitute Forms 8655 is now required to aid in processing and for compliance purposes. Please follow the guidelines in Section 7.2.2.

7.2.2
Requirements for Substitute Forms 8655

Please follow these specific requirements when producing substitute Forms 8655.

  • The first line of the title must be “Reporting Agent Authorization.”

  • If you want to include a reference to “State Limited Power of Attorney,” it can be in parentheses under the title. “State” must be the first word within the parentheses.

  • You must include “Form 8655” on the form.

  • While the line numbers do not have to match the official form, the sequence of the information must be in the same order.

  • The size of any variable data must be printed in a font no smaller than 10-point.

  • For adequate disclosure checks, the following must be included for each taxpayer:

    • Name,

    • EIN, and

    • Address.

  • At this time, Form 944 will not be required if Form 941 is checked. Only those forms that the reporting agent company supports need to be listed.

  • The jurat (perjury statement) must be identical with the exception of references to line numbers.

  • A contact name and number for the reporting agent is not required.

  • You must include line 17, or the equivalent line, and it must include two checkboxes.

  • Any state information included should be contained in a separate section of the substitute form. Preferably this information will be in the same area as line 19 of the official form.

  • All substitute Forms 8655 must be approved by the Substitute Forms Unit as outlined in the Form 8655 specifications in Publication 1167.

  • If you have not already been assigned a 3-letter source code, you will be given one when your substitute form is submitted for approval. This source code should be included in the lower left corner of the form.

  • The 20-day assumed approval policy does not apply to Form 8655 approvals.

Part 8
Additional Information

Section 8.1 — Forms for Electronically Filed Returns

8.1.1
Electronic Filing Program

Electronic filing is a method by which authorized providers transmit tax return information to an IRS Service Center in the format of the official IRS forms. The IRS accepts both refund and balance due forms that are filed electronically.

8.1.2
Applying to Participate in IRS e-file

Anyone wishing to participate in IRS e-file of tax returns must submit an e-file application. The application can be completed and submitted electronically on the IRS website at IRS.gov after first registering for e-services on the website.

8.1.3
Obtaining the Taxpayer Signature / Submission of Required Paper Documents

Taxpayers choosing to electronically prepare and file their return will be required to use the Self-Select PIN method as their signature.

Electronic Return Originators (EROs) can e-file individual income tax returns only if the returns are signed electronically using either the Self-Select or Practitioner PIN method.

Taxpayers must use Form 8453, U.S. Individual Income Tax Transmittal for an IRS e-file Return, to send supporting documents that are required to be submitted to the IRS.

For specific information about electronic filing, refer to Publication 1345, Handbook for Authorized IRS e-file Providers of Individual Income Tax Returns and Publication 1346, Electronic Return File Specifications and Record Layouts for Individual Income Tax Returns.

8.1.4
Guidelines for Preparing Substitute Forms in the Electronic Filing Program

A participant in the electronic filing program, who wants to develop a substitute form should follow the guidelines throughout this publication and send a sample form for approval to the Substitute Forms Unit at the address in Part 1. If you do not prepare Substitute Form 8453 using a font in which all IRS wording fits on a single page, the form will not be accepted.

Note

Note. Use of unapproved forms could result in suspension of the participant from the electronic filing program.

Section 8.2 — Effect on Other Documents

8.2.1
Effect on Other Documents

This revenue procedure supersedes Revenue Procedure 2011-61, 2011-52 I.R.B. 990.


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