When you file your individual tax return electronically, you must electronically sign the tax return using a personal identification number (PIN): either the Self-Select PIN or the Practitioner PIN method.
Self-Select PIN - The self-select PIN (SSP) method requires you to select a five-digit PIN that can be any five numbers (except all zeros) that you choose which serves as your electronic signature. You'll authenticate your identity using your date of birth and one of the following: your original prior year adjusted gross income (AGI) or your prior year SSP. If you file a joint return, each spouse needs to select their own SSP to sign the return.
Practitioner PIN - The Practitioner PIN method is another signature option in which you select and enter your own PIN or authorize the electronic return originator (ERO) to enter it in the electronic return record after reviewing the return. This method doesn't require you to provide your prior year AGI, date of birth, or SSP for authentication. Instead, the preparer verifies your identity and you give the tax professional a signed authorization form, Form 8879 (PDF), IRS e-file Signature Authorization. Similar to the SSP, you can use any five digits (except for all zeros) when selecting your PIN and you must provide the tax professional the signed authorization form.
Primary taxpayers under age 16 who have never filed an individual return and secondary taxpayers under age 16 who didn't file for 2015 are ineligible to use the SSP method to sign the electronic return using tax preparation software. These individuals may still e-file by using a paid preparer who uses the Practitioner PIN method. There are no age restrictions when using the Practitioner PIN method.
Generally, you may e-file your tax return even if you're required to submit certain paper forms or supporting documents. Use Form 8453 (PDF), U.S. Individual Income Tax Transmittal for an IRS e-file Return, to transmit required paper forms or supporting paper documents.
The IRS always advises keeping a copy of your tax return and Form 8879 for your records. It may assist with electronically signing your next year's e-file return. If you need a copy or a transcript of your return, refer to Topic 156 for assistance.
Page Last Reviewed or Updated: December 30, 2016