Applicants choose Provider Options, which include Electronic Return Originator, Intermediate Service Provider, Online Provider, Transmitter, Software Developer, and Reporting Agent. Applicants may choose more than one Provider Option, for example; ERO and Transmitter on one application, but should only choose those options they intend to use.
Brief descriptions for each Provider type are below (See IRS e-file Participation, Provider Roles and Responsibilities for additional information):
Electronic Return Originator (ERO) – originates the electronic submission of tax returns to the IRS.
Intermediate Service Provider – assists with processing return information between an ERO and a Transmitter, and the taxpayer and a Transmitter in the case of Online Filing.
Reporting Agent – originates the electronic submission of certain returns for its clients, and/or transmits the returns to the IRS. A Reporting Agent must be an accounting service, franchiser, bank, or other entity that complies with Rev. Proc. 2007‑38, 2007-25 I.R.B. 1442, and is authorized to perform one or more of the acts listed in Rev. Proc. 2007-38 on behalf of a taxpayer. Reporting Agents must submit Form 8655, Reporting Agent Authorization, to the IRS prior to or at the same time that they submit an IRS e-file Application.
Software Developer – writes either origination or transmission software according to the IRS e-file specifications.
Transmitter – sends the electronic return data directly to the IRS. EROs and Reporting Agents may apply to be transmitters and transmit return data themselves, or they may contract with accepted third-party transmitters that can transmit the data for them. A Transmitter must have software and computers that allow it to interface with the IRS.
Online Provider – An Online Provider allows taxpayers to self‑prepare returns by entering return data directly on commercially available software, software downloaded from an Internet site and prepared off-line, or through an online Internet site. Online Provider is a secondary role; therefore, they must also choose another Provider Option such as Software Developer, Transmitter or Intermediate Service Provider. Although an ERO may also use an Internet Web site to obtain information from taxpayers to originate the electronic submission of returns, the ERO is not an Online Provider.
ACA Provider – An ACA Provider is a business or entity engaged in manufacturing or importing branded prescription drugs sold to specified government programs ("covered entity") or a health insurance provider reporting net premiums written (“covered entity”) that originates the electronic submission of its own information report(s) or a third party that will transmit report(s) on behalf of a covered entity. An ACA Provider that is a third party does not have signature authority for the covered entity that it services.
Note: A Large Taxpayer is a Provider Option on the IRS e-file Application but it is not an Authorized IRS e-file Provider. A Large Taxpayer is a business or other entity with assets of $10 million or more, or a partnership with more than 100 partners, that originates the electronic submission of its own return(s). To submit an IRS e-file Application, Large Taxpayers should follow instructions in Part V of Publication 4163, Modernized e-file (MeF) Information for Authorized IRS e-file Providers and Large Taxpayers (Corporations, Partnerships and Tax Exempt Organizations).
When completing the e-file application the applicant provides basic information about the business and its Principals and at least one Responsible Official. The roles of Principal and Responsible Official are not mutually exclusive; a Principal may also serve as the Responsible Official.