The requirements to file electronically depend on the type of information returns that are being filed.
Section 6011(e)(2)(A) of the Internal Revenue Code and the regulations thereunder require any person, including a corporation, partnership, employer, estate and trust, who files 250 or more information returns, such as Forms 1042-S, 1097-BTC, 1098 Series, 1099 Series, 3921, 3922, 5498 Series, 8027, 8955-SSA, W-2, W-2G, 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C, and 1095-C for any calendar year, to file these returns electronically. This requirement applies separately for each type of form required to be filed. All requirements apply separately to both original and corrected forms. Filers of Form 8966 (PDF), see section "IDES" below.
Forms 1042-S, 1097-BTC, 1098 Series, 1099 Series, 3921, 3922, 5498 Series, 8027, 8955-SSA, and W-2G may be filed with the Technical Services Operation (TSO) electronically using the FIRE system. Benefits of electronically filing information returns include: cost-effectiveness, security (supports AES 256-bit, AES 128-bit and TDES 168-bit encryption), and a later due date for filing most information returns. The electronic filing of information returns isn't associated with the Form 1040 electronic filing program.
When sending files larger than 10,000 records electronically, data compression is encouraged. WinZip or PKZIP are the only acceptable compression packages. The FIRE system is generally operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but may be down on Wednesdays between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. Eastern time to apply programming updates. See FIRE for more information.
After filing returns via the FIRE system, filers that provide an accurate email address on the "Verify Your Filing Information" screen will receive an email regarding the status of their transmitted file. The file status email will include the IRS assigned filename, date received, count of payees, and file status for Forms 1042-S, 1097-BTC, 1098 Series, 1099 Series, 3921, 3922, 5498 Series, 8027, 8955-SSA, and W-2G. If the email indicates that the file is bad, you must log into the FIRE system and go to the "Check File Status" option to review the results of the file and timely resubmit a replacement file. If the file is good, it's automatically released for mainline processing 10 calendar days from receipt.
General information on filing and making corrections, as well as specifications for electronic filing, are available in the following publications:
- Publication 1220, Specifications for Electronic Filing of Forms 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922, 5498, and W-2G (PDF),
- Publication 1239, Specifications for Electronic Filing of Filing Form 8027, Employer's Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips (PDF),
- Publication 1187, Specifications for Electronic Filing of Form 1042-S, Foreign Person's U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding (PDF), and
- Publication 4810, Specifications for Electronic Filing of Form 8955-SSA, Annual Registration Statement Identifying Separated Participants with Deferred Vested Benefits (PDF).
For assistance with Publications 1187, 1220, 1239, and 4810, call the TSO Customer Service Section toll-free at 866-455-7438 or at 304-579-4827 (not toll-free) if using the Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD). Foreign filers may call 304-263-8700 (not toll-free).
For specifications for electronic filing of Forms W-2 with the Social Security Administration, visit SSA.gov/employer or call 800-772-6270.
Forms 8966, FATCA Report (PDF) are electronically filed through the International Data Exchange Service (IDES) system. An entity that is a financial institution is required to electronically file Form 8966 irrespective of the number of Forms 8966 filed. All other entities that file 250 or more Forms 8966 for the calendar year are required to electronically file Form 8966. For more information, see International Data Exchange Service.
Affordable Care Act (ACA) information returns and transmittals are electronically filed through the ACA Information Return system, also known as AIR. Form 1094-B, Transmittal of Health Coverage Information Returns (PDF), Form 1095-B, Health Coverage (PDF), Form 1094-C, Transmittal of Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage Information Returns (PDF), and Form 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage (PDF) are required to be filed electronically through AIR if the filer files 250 or more of any of those returns. For more information, see Affordable Care Act Information Returns (AIR) Program.