Alert (posted May 10, 2019)
Filing Information Returns Electronically (FIRE) Systems – Revised Tax Year 2018 File Size Change
Information is revised to clarify change. As of January 2019, the acceptable file size for the FIRE Systems cannot exceed one million records per file. The count is the total of the entire file determined by adding together the T, A, B, C, K and F Records. If the file exceeds the limit, the file will be rejected.
Alert (posted April 26, 2019)
Mid-year FIRE Systems updates are scheduled for:
- May 5, 2019 – FIRE System (Test)
- May 8, 2019 – FIRE System (Production)
FIRE System updates are listed below:
- On the FILE Status screen, the radio button for “All Files” is replaced with a drop down for file status search.
- The default selection to the File Status drop down is, “All Files.”
- When “All Files” is selected, a valid date range is required. The date range cannot exceed three months.
- Error messages are:
- The Start date cannot be after the End date.
- End date cannot be more than three months after the Start date.
FIRE Account Updates:
- Systems have been enhanced to ensure all FIRE Accounts have a valid 10-digit PIN and valid secret phrase. If an account new or established does not meet the requirements the user will be continually prompted to create or correct existing accounts. FIRE Account valid 10-digit PIN is now required to be entered to complete file transactions (submitting, replacing, correcting etc.).
- If an incorrect PIN is entered three times the FIRE Account will be locked out for a 24-hour period and will be unable to submit files.
- Publication 1220, has been revised and is scheduled to be released the week of April 22, 2019. Refer to Exhibit 2 for details.
What is an information return?
An information return is a tax document used to report certain types of payments made by financial institutions and others who make payments as part of their trade or business as required by Internal Revenue Code Regulations. Forms 1042-S, 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922, 5498, 8027, 8955-SSA, and W-2G may be filed electronically via the FIRE System. Forms 1094/1095 are filed through the Affordable Care Act Information Return (AIR) system.
Who can participate?
Anyone with a FIRE System Transmitter Control Code (TCC) who is required to submit the information returns listed above (except Forms 1094/1095) can file electronically through FIRE. The law requires any corporation, partnership, employer, estate and/or trust, who is required to file 250 or more information returns for any calendar year, must file electronically. IRS encourages filers who have less than 250 information returns to file electronically as well.
What are the benefits of electronic filing?
Some of the benefits of electronically filing your Information Returns through the FIRE System are listed below:
- Files are processed faster with fewer errors.
FIRE System can accept multiple files for the same type of return.
Combined Federal/State Filing Program (CF/SF) is available for participating states.
Fill-in Forms are available for Form 4419, Application for Filing Information Returns Electronically (FIRE) and Form 8809, Extension of Time to File Information Returns, for automatic 30-day requests only. Requests for an additional 30-days and Forms W-2 and 1099-MISC, reporting non-employee compensation in box 7, must be submitted on paper.
How to transmit through FIRE System
To file electronically, you must have software or a service provider that will create the file in the proper format. A scanned or PDF copy will not be accepted. Additionally, a TCC is required to transmit information returns through the FIRE system.
The most efficient way to apply to file information returns electronically is to submit the Fill-in Form 4419, Application for Filing Information Returns Electronically (FIRE), from the FIRE home page. You may also go to Forms and Pubs and select the paper version of Form 4419. Be sure to submit your application at least 45 days prior to the due date of your information returns.
Your FIRE TCC will be deleted if you don’t file any of the above information returns (except Form 1094/1095) for two consecutive tax years. Once deleted from our database, you will need to submit another Form 4419.
The Filing Information Returns Electronically (FIRE) Production and Test System server no longer supports Secure Socket Layer (SSL) 3.0 as one of the FIRE System’s Internet Security Technical Standards. Transmitters using IE 6.0 or lower as their browser may have problems logging in and connecting to the FIRE System. Follow the steps below to connect and upload a file:
- Go to Tools>Internet Options>Advanced
- Scroll down and find Security
- Uncheck both SSL 2.0 and SSL 3.0
- Check TLS 1.0, TLS 1.1, TLS 1.2 and select “Apply”
|FIRE Test System Availability|
|Down for annual updates||December 5, 2018, 6 p.m. ET||January 2, 2019|
|Available||November 5, 2018||December 5, 2018, 6 p.m. ET|
|Available||January 2, 2019||Date to be determined this page will be updated when available.|
|Note: The FIRE Systems (Production and Test) may be down every Wednesday from 2 a.m. ET to 5 a.m. ET for programming updates.|
|FIRE Production System Availability|
|Down for annual updates||December 5, 2018, 6 p.m. ET||January 7, 2019|
|Controlled launch||January 8, 2019, 8 a.m. ET||January 10, 2019, 4 p.m. ET|
|Available||January 10, 2019||Available 24 hours a day until end of year updates. Date to be determined and will be available on the FIRE webpage.|
Forgotten or Lost Password and Secret Phrase
FIRE accounts require the user to establish a secret phrase to assist in resetting passwords for FIRE Systems (Production and Test).
You will be prompted to create the secret phrase at the same time you create your User ID, Password, and valid 10-digit PIN. If you already have a FIRE System account (Production and Test) but don’t have a secret phrase, you will be prompted to create one the first time you log into the system. If you fail to establish a valid secret phrase, you will receive continual prompts until you do.
Resetting your password - If you have a FIRE account for Test and Production with an established secret phrase and forgot your password, you should reset your password by using your established secret phrase.
Additional information can be found in these resources:
The Technical Services Operation (TSO) is available to payers, transmitters, and employers at the numbers listed below. When you call you will be provided guidance to essential elements pertaining to technical aspects for electronic filing through the FIRE Systems, self-help resources, and referrals to tax law topics on IRS.gov. Below are some examples of essential elements:
- Form identification
- How to obtain a form
- Provide related publications for a form or topic
- FIRE File status information and guidance
Contact Technical Services Operation (TSO)
Monday through Friday 8:30am – 5:30pm EST
- 866-455-7438 Toll-free
- 304-263-8700 International
- 304-579-4827 Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD)
Assistance with individual taxpayer returns or account related issues cannot be provided on the numbers listed above. Click on the Help link on IRS.gov for help with many tax issues.