Software Developers (Updated 06/13/2016)
A Software Developer develops software for the purposes of formatting electronic return information according to IRS e‑file specifications and/or transmitting electronic return information directly to the IRS. Software Developers may find information about Modernized e-File (MeF) schemas in Publication 4164, Modernized (MEF) E-File Guide for Software Developers and Transmitters and on IRS.gov. Software Developers must pass Assurance Testing System (ATS) as prescribed in Publication 1436, Test Package for Electronic Filers of Individual Income Tax Returns.
A Software Developer must:
- Promptly correct any software error which causes the electronic portion of a return to be rejected and then promptly distribute that correction;
- Ensure that its software contains appropriate language and version indicators for Consent To Disclose and Jurat statements;
- Ensure software contains IRS e-file Signature Authorization; and
- Ensure its software allows for input of different addresses on appropriate forms and schedules when they differ from the taxpayer’s address in the electronic individual income tax return. Also require the manual key entry of the Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) as it appears on Form W-2 for taxpayers with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) who are reporting wages.
- Ensure that its software package includes embedded prompts, known as "pop-ups", to remind taxpayers about their responsibility for health care coverage if the filers did not check the check box indicating full year health care coverage, did not report a Shared Responsibility Payment (SRP) amount, or did not attach a Form 8965, Health Coverage Exemptions.
The embedded prompt should advise the taxpayer of the following:
“Reminder from the IRS: If you need health coverage, visit www.HealthCare.gov to learn about health insurance options that are available for you and your family, how to purchase health insurance, and how you might qualify to get financial assistance with the cost of insurance”.
Additional Requirements for Software Developers Participating in Online Filing
A Software Developer that participates in Online Filing must also:
- Ensure that its software package cannot be used to transmit more than five electronic returns;
- Ensure that its software, if available for use on an Internet Web site, cannot be used to file more than five electronic returns from one e-mail address;
- Ensure that its software contains a Form 8453, U.S. Individual Income Tax Transmittal for an IRS e-file Return, that can be printed and used by a taxpayer to mail supporting documents to IRS;
- Ensure that its software contains a payment voucher that can be printed and used by a taxpayer to file with the IRS;
- Provide a copy of the software and accompanying documentation (a demonstration package is sufficient) to the IRS Headquarters Online Filing Analyst upon successful completion of testing (For address, see "Additional Requirements for Participants in Online Filing" in "IRS e-file Rules and Requirements"); and
- Ensure the Internet Protocol (IP) statement is present.
Additional Requirements for Software Developers Enabling Electronic Signatures for Forms 8878 and 8879
A Software Developer that enables electronic signatures for Forms 8878 and 8879 must:
1. Provide the following in an accessible format (including print capability) for the electronic return originator:
• Digital image of the signed form;
• Date and time of the signature;
• Taxpayer’s computer IP address (Remote transaction only);
• Taxpayer’s login identification – user name (Remote transaction only);
• Identity verification: taxpayer’s knowledge based authentication passed results and for in-
person transactions, confirmation that government picture identification has been verified;
• Method used to sign the record, (e.g., typed name); or a system log; or other audit trail
that reflects the completion of the electronic signature process by the signer.
2. Comply with the identity verification requirements.
3. Ensure software disables identity verification after three attempts.
4. Ensure identity verification transactions occur in a secure portal.
5. Ensure the electronic record that has been signed is tamper-proof.
6. Ensure storage system has secure access controls.
7. Ensure storage system contains a retrieval system that includes an indexing system.
8. Ensure software can reproduce legible and readable hardcopies of Form 8878 or 8879.
9. Ensure software does not allow tax return transmission until Form 8879 is signed.
A Software Developer that enables electronic signatures for Forms 8878 and 8879 should:
- Follow best practices and clearly provide information for taxpayers on use of third party data and “soft inquiries” prior to beginning the identity verification process.
- Follow best practices and clearly provide information for taxpayers that the IRS will not be given view of or access to a taxpayer’s credit report, nor will the credit reporting company or other identity verification third party have access to the taxpayer’s tax information.
See “Electronic Signature Guidance for Forms 8878 and 8879” section for detailed information