Registration of Websites and URLs Frequently Asked Questions (updated 10/27/09)

Why am I being asked for this information?

IRS is developing a universal catalog of URLs (website addresses) related to Authorized IRS e-file Providers in order to combat fraudulent tax preparation and phishing sites. This information will be used to allow investigators to more quickly identify and validate a URL should there be a question of the validity of a website that gathers or collects tax return information from taxpayers.

What is a URL?

A URL (Universal Resource Locator) is simply a website address such as (www.irs.gov).

My company does not have a website. Does this rule apply to me?

No. If you do not have a website, this rule does not apply to you.

My company has a website but it’s only for informational or marketing purposes. No tax return information can be gathered or collected from taxpayers by my website.  Does this rule apply to me?

No.  If you do not gather or collect tax return information from taxpayers via the Internet directly or through third parties in order to e-file federal returns, this rule does not apply to you. 

I am an ERO that e-files returns.  Does this apply to me?

Authorized IRS e-file Providers, including EROs, Intermediate Service Providers or Online Service Providers, NOT affected by this rule include those that:

1) Do not have an internet website that obtains taxpayer information from a taxpayer or third party via the internet for the purpose of e-filing returns,
2) Have a website for informational and/or marketing purposes only,
3) Only receive or send taxpayer information via e-mail,
4) Do not use websites to collect taxpayer information and transmit the returns through third party transmitters,
5) Prepare returns and use Provider's website to e-file their returns, or
6) Only provide a hotlink to another company's website that allows taxpayers to input taxpayer information.

I operate a tax office where I receive information from my clients in person from my clients and e-file their returns though my service provider.  Does this rule apply to me?

No.  If you receive information from clients in person, you do not gather or collect tax return information from taxpayers via the internet directly or through third parties in order to e-file federal returns.  Using an authorized IRS e-file Provider to e-file returns does not qualify as gathering or collecting tax return information from taxpayers. This rule does not apply to you. 

I sometimes receive taxpayer information via e-mail.  Does this rule apply to me?

No.  Receiving information via e-mail is not considered receiving tax return information from taxpayers via the website or through third parties in order to e-file federal returns. This rule does not apply as long as you do not gather or collect tax return information from taxpayers via the website or through third parties in order to e-file federal returns. 

I have a link on my website that allows taxpayers to file their returns online. Does this rule apply to me?

Maybe. There are several factors that must be considered.  See the following scenarios to see if any apply to your business model.

Scenario 1 : Your website has a link to another website:

1. The website for Company A has a hotlink that links taxpayers to Company B’s website.
2. Company B’s website (which is owned by Company B) has a “Start Now” link that allows taxpayers to begin preparing their return.  All of the taxpayer information is stored on Company B’s server.

Company A: Is NOT required to register its URL. It does not gather or collect tax return information from taxpayers via the Internet for the purpose of e-filing returns.  It only has a hot link to Company B’s website.

Company B: Is required to register its URL with the IRS as its website is used to gather or collect tax return information from taxpayers via the internet for the purpose of e-filing returns. 

Scenario 2:  Your website has a “Start Now” feature:

1. Company A’s website (which is owned by Company A) has a “Start Now” link that takes taxpayers seamlessly into Company B’s server where taxpayers begin preparing their return.  All of the taxpayer information is stored on Company B’s server.

Company A:  Is NOT required to register its URL as the website is not used to gather or collect tax return information from taxpayers through a third party via the Internet for the purpose of e-filing returns.  It does not matter where the information is stored.

Company B: Company B is required to register Company A’s URLs as Company A’s websites are portals or allow access to the Authorized IRS e-file Provider’s online e-file software; Company B must also register its own URLs as its website is used to gather or collect tax return information from taxpayers via the internet for the purpose of e-filing returns.

Scenario 3: You lease your website that has the “Start Now” feature:

1. Company A’s website (which is owned by Company B but leased to Company A) has a “Start Now” link that takes them seamlessly into Company B’s server where taxpayers begin preparing their return. All of the taxpayer information is stored on Taxpayer B’s server.

Company A:  Is not required to register as they do not gather or collect tax return information from taxpayers via the Internet directly or through third parties for the purpose of e-filing returns.

Company B: Is required to register its URLs leased to Company A that are portals or allow access to the Authorized IRS e-file Provider’s online e file software. Company B is also required to register its own URLs that gather or collect tax return information from taxpayers via the Internet directly or through third parties for the purpose of e-filing returns. 

My company is an Authorized IRS e-file Provider that allows taxpayers to go to its website and input their tax return information  into a “notebook.”  I then download the information to prepare tax returns; when the taxpayer’s tax return is completed, I e-file the returns  through my Authorized IRS e-file Provider.  Do I need to register the URL?

Yes.  When you allow taxpayers to go into your website to input their tax return information, you are gathering or collecting tax return information via the internet. In this scenario this rule applies to your company and you need to register the URL with the IRS.

Who does this e-file rule apply to?

This e-file rule applies to all Authorized IRS e-file Providers that gather or obtain tax return information from taxpayers via the Internet (not including e-mail) directly or through third parties in order to e-file federal returns including:

• Online Providers,
• Intermediate Service Providers, and
• Electronic Return Originators (EROs)

What is considered tax return information?

Tax return information is defined as any information that is obtained or used in the preparation of a tax return (e.g., social security numbers, Employer Identification Number, names, and addresses, dates of birth, income statements, and notes taken in a meeting).

If this e-file rule applies to my company, what information needs to be submitted?

The information that must be provided includes

  • EFIN of the Provider,
  • Name of the Principal Person or Responsible Official who appears on the e-file application and will be submitting the required information, and
  • Uniform Resource Locators (website address) of all websites that:

o The Provider uses for e-file of federal returns,
o Are portals or allow access to the Provider’s online e-file software or;
o Are used to gather or obtain tax return information from taxpayers or the purpose of preparing and e-filing federal tax returns.

In what format does this information need to be submitted?

This feature allows Providers to register, edit, delete, or transfer their website URLs pursuant to the IRS July 2007 requirements.

  1. Log onto e-Services and continue to the e-file application page
  2. In "e-file application Menu" page, click "EFIN Status"
  3. On the "EFIN Status" page,
         A. answer the Yes/No question,
         B. click "Save",
         C. click "e-file application Menu" page
  4. In "e-file application Menu" page, click "ADD/DELETE URL" and proceed as instructed.

Note: Steps 1 and 2 are only required once. Thereafter, to add, delete, edit, or transfer a website URL, proceed directly to Step 3. Refer to the available illustrated tutorials in e-Services for more details.
 

When did this rule go into effect?

Information was first required to be submitted as of September 10, 2007.

Who submits the information to the IRS?

A Principal or Responsible Official who appears on the e-file application is the only person authorized to submit this information.

My website only advertises and provides information about my company. This website does not store data and taxpayers cannot e-file their returns through this website. Do I need to register the URL?

No. You are required to register URLs ONLY if you are an Authorized IRS e-file Providers and your websites;

  • Are used for e-file of federal returns,
  • Are portals or allow access to your online e-file software, or
  • Are used to collect or gather tax return information from taxpayers via the Internet directly or through third parties in order to e-file federal returns.

If I am a practitioner who only obtains taxpayer information via my company website but I’m not considered an “Online Provider,” do I need to get an online EFIN to register my URL?

If you obtain tax return information from taxpayers via the Internet directly or through third parties in order to e-file federal tax returns, you are required to register your URL, but you may use your existing EFIN as your unique identifier. You do not need to obtain an online EFIN.

Do I need to put my company name on this documentation?

No, the EFIN provided as part of the URL registration document will act as the unique identifying number for your business. No other company information needs to be included.

I have more than one online EFIN. Which EFIN do I use?

You may use any of your active EFINs. The EFIN is used for verification and affiliation purposes only.
 
How do I add new websites or delete old websites?

New URLs must be submitted to the IRS using the efileurlreg mailbox prior to the website being accessible on the Internet, and you must submit to the IRS, within three (3) business days, any changes to previously provided information.

What happens if I do not submit this information?

Failure to provide the required information timely and accurately may result in the IRS, it agents, or the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) shutting down and, potentially seizing the contents of, non-validated websites that appear to be engaging in fraudulent schemes.

Also an Authorized IRS e-file Provider that fails to comply with these IRS e-file rules may be suspended or expelled from participation in IRS e-file in accordance with Revenue Procedure 2007-40 and Publication 3112, IRS e-file Application and Participation.

What if I have questions about this process that are not answered here?

Questions regarding the requirement to register URLs or the process to do so can be sent to the efileurlreg mailbox.