IRS Logo
Print - Click this link to Print this page

FAQ's for An Electronic Return Originator


Frequently Asked Questions for an Electronic Return Originator

How would my client get a copy of their Prior Year PIN?

EROs will need to provide taxpayers with documentation that has the PIN on it. Tax Preparation software should be capable of providing the taxpayer with a copy of the PIN used in their current tax return so that it will be available for them to use as an authenticator next year.  As a suggestion, the PIN can be preprinted on the signature line of the tax return to avoid additional paper generation.

If the prior year information is unavailable, the taxpayer may be able to obtain an Electronic Filing PIN.

What is an ERO EFIN/PIN?

The ERO PIN is the ERO's electronic signature.  For consistency, each ERO is encouraged to use the same 11 numbers for their ERO PIN on all returns for this filing season. The first six positions of your ERO PIN must be your EFIN and it must match the EFIN in the DCN. You may select any five digits except all zeros for the next five positions. 

Will the ERO EFIN/PIN be acknowledged?

If the ERO EFIN/PIN is not present, the return will reject displaying an error reject code.

What is Form 8879, IRS e-file Signature Authorization?

Form 8879 is the declaration document and signature authorization for an e-filed return filed by an electronic return originator (ERO). Complete Form 8879 when the Practitioner PIN Method is used or when the taxpayer authorizes the ERO to enter or generate the taxpayer’s personal identification number (PIN) on his or her e-filed individual income tax return.

Where can a copy of Form 8879 be obtained?

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.

Can the taxpayer give me their PIN verbally to enter in their electronic return?

Yes, a taxpayer can provide their PIN verbally. However, you must receive a completed Form 8879, IRS e-file Signature Authorization, from the taxpayer before you submit the return or release it for transmission to the IRS.

Is it acceptable for the ERO to choose the same PIN for multiple clients?

Yes, it is acceptable to assign the same PIN for multiple clients.

Where can I find a list of ERO and taxpayer responsibilities when using the Self-Select PIN Method?

As an ERO, 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, all five tax return 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. Publication 1345 - Handbook for Authorized IRS e-file Providers of Individual Income Tax Returns and Publication 1346 - Electronic File Specificiations for Individual Income Tax Returns also provides additional information on the Self-Select PIN Method.

What is my responsibility as an ERO using Form 8879 when the taxpayer completed their own return?

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 systemically generate or manually assign the taxpayer PIN in Part II.

What is my responsibility as an ERO using Form 8879 when another return preparer completed the taxpayer's return?

As an ERO, your responsibility is to identify the paid preparer in the appropriate fields of the electronic return record, regardless of who prepared the return.  For example, if a collected return is signed by a paid preparer, the ERO must enter the paid preparer's identifying information in the appropriate portion of the electronic return record.  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 systemically generate or manually assign the taxpayer PIN in Part II.  Page 1 and 2 of the tax return should be retained until the end of the calendar year.  

Can a preparer enter the taxpayer's PIN on an Application for Extension of Time to File?

Yes. Form 8878, IRS e-file Signature Authorization for Form 4868 and Form 2350, is available for taxpayers to authorize the ERO to input their PIN on Forms 4868 and 2350.  Form 8878 is included in some software packages.  A copy can be obtained from the IRS website, keyword Form 8878.  Spanish version, Form 8878-SP, is also available on the website.   

Do I have to mail Form 8879 and Form 8878 to the IRS?

Do not send Form 8879 to the IRS unless requested to do so. Retain the completed Form 8879 for 3 years from the return due date or IRS received date, whichever is later.

Is it acceptable for an Electronic Return Originator (ERO) to electronically image and store Form 8879 and Form 8878 and meet the document retention requirement?

Forms 8879 and 8878 may be retained electronically in accordance with the recordkeeping guidelines in Rev. Proc. 97-22, which is on page 9 of Internal Revenue Bulletin 1997-13 at www.irs.gov/pub/irs-irbs/irb97-13.pdf.

Why is a Form 8878 needed for Form 4868 filers if there is no signature requirement on Form 4868?

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.

 

 

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 22-May-2014