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, or trust, who files 250 or more information returns, such as Forms 1042-S, 1098, 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, 3921, 3922, 5498, 5498-ESA, W-2, etc., for 2019, 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. For purposes of Forms 1042-S, a financial institution must file all returns electronically regardless of the number of forms being filed. 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 Filing Information Returns Electronically (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 each type of form filed via FIRE. 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 details of the error 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 1220, 1239, 1187, 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).
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.