A return filed using IRS e-file may be a composite of electronically transmitted data and certain paper documents or be completely paperless. The paper portion of a composite return may consist Form 8453, U.S. Individual Income Tax Transmittal for an IRS e-file Return and other paper documents that cannot be electronically transmitted attached to the form and mailed to the IRS (See Submitting the Electronic Return to the IRS).
Filing individual income tax returns using IRS e-file is limited to tax returns with prescribed due dates in the current year and two previous years. A taxpayer can electronically file an individual income tax return year round except for a short cutover period at the end of the calendar year.
If Authorized IRS e-file Providers (Providers) submit state individual income tax returns as part of Federal/State e-file, state returns become a part of the electronically transmitted data. States often require the submission of paper documents to complete the return, but they are separate from paper documents for federal returns. Providers should process state paper documents according to applicable state rules.
Returns Not Eligible for IRS e-file
The following individual income tax returns and related return conditions cannot be processed using IRS e-file:
- Tax returns with fiscal year tax periods;
- Amended tax returns;
- Returns containing forms or schedules that cannot be processed by IRS e-file;
- Tax returns with Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TIN) within the range of 900-00-0000 through 999-99-9999. Exception: Adoption Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ATIN) and Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN) may fall within the range above. Valid ATINs contain the digits 93 in the fourth and fifth positions. Valid ITINs contain digits within a range of 70 through 88, 90 through 92 and 94 through 99 in the fourth and fifth digits. See "Verifying Taxpayer Identification Numbers" in "Obtaining, Handling and Processing Return Information from Taxpayers" for more information on ATINs and TINs; and
- The IRS cannot electronically process tax returns with rare or unusual processing conditions or that exceed the specifications for returns allowable in IRS e-file. These conditions change from year to year. The software should alert Providers to these conditions when they occur. If Providers transmit electronic return data with one of these conditions to the IRS, it rejects and the taxpayer may have to file the tax return on paper. The software package documentation or the software’s support program should provide information that is more specific.
Submitting a Timely Filed Electronic Tax Return
All prescribed due dates for filing of returns apply to e-file returns. All Providers must ensure that returns are promptly processed. However, a Provider that receives a return for electronic filing on or before the due date of the return must ensure that it transmits the electronic portion of the return on or before the due date (including extensions). An electronically filed return is not considered filed until the IRS acknowledges acceptance of the electronic portion of the tax return for processing. The IRS accepts individual income tax returns electronically only if the taxpayer signs the return using a Personal Identification Number (PIN). If Providers transmit the electronic portion of a return on or shortly before the due date and the IRS ultimately rejects it, but the Provider and the taxpayer comply with the requirements for timely resubmission of a correct return, the IRS considers the return timely filed. For additional information about the filing of a return through IRS e-file, see "Submitting the Electronic Return to the IRS".
Transmitters may provide electronic postmarks to taxpayers for individual returns if the Transmitters adhere to the requirements stated in "Transmission". The receipt of an electronic postmark provides taxpayers with confidence that they have filed their return timely. The date of the electronic postmark is considered the date of filing when the date of electronic postmark is on or before the prescribed due date and the return is received by the IRS after the prescribed due date for filing. All requirements for signing the return and completing a paper declaration, if required, as well as for timely resubmitting of a rejected timely filed return must be adhered to for the electronic postmark to be considered the date of filing.