You Can Become an Authorized IRS e-file Provider.
Follow these 3 steps to learn how to apply for an EFIN:
How long does it take to get an EFIN?
The IRS announced that effective October 1, 2012, they will no longer be accepting paper applications to become an IRS e-file provider and that all applications must be submitted online. Until October 1, 2012, the IRS has allowed tax professionals to fill out Form 8633, Application to Participate in the IRS e-file Program. With all tax preparers now submitting their applications online, the IRS estimates that the online application process takes four to six weeks to complete and urges tax professionals not to delay.
Step 1 – Choose Provider Options
Applicants choose Provider Options, which include Electronic Return Originator, Intermediate Service Provider, Online Provider, Transmitter, Software Developer, and Reporting Agent. Be sure to include all choices on the application. Applicants may choose more than one Provider Option, for example; ERO and Transmitter on one application.
In this article, we will only be concerned with becoming an Electronic Return Originator (ERO) – a person who originates the electronic submission of tax returns to the IRS. The ERO is usually the first point of contact for most taxpayers filing a return using IRS e-file.
STEP 2 – Complete and Submit the IRS e-file Application by signing up with e-Services
You must first sign up for an IRS e-Services account, which is required in submitting the application to become an e-file provider. An e-Services account allows you to interact electronically with the IRS.
After signing up with IRS e-Services, access the e-file application. Each individual who is a Principal or Responsible Official of the tax preparation firm must register for e-Services on the IRS Web site prior to submitting the IRS e-file Application to the IRS.
Help is available when completing the application by clicking designated words and symbols. Contact e-Help toll-free at (866) 255-0654, for assistance with the IRS e-file Application or if unable to register for e-Services.
STEP 3 – Pass a Suitability Check
The IRS conducts a suitability check on the applicant, and on all Principals and Responsible Officials listed on e-file applications to determine the applicant’s suitability to be an Authorized IRS e-file Provider.
Suitability checks may include the following:
- A criminal background check
- A credit history check
- A tax compliance check to ensure that all required returns are filed and paid,
- A tax compliance check to identify assessed penalties; and
- A check for prior non-compliance with IRS e-file requirements
Keep Your Company Contacts Up-to-Date
Once you’ve submitted your application, contact persons should be available on a daily basis for the IRS to get in touch with for general questions during the application processing year, and beyond.
Contacts may be a Principal or Responsible Official. A Primary Contact is required for each application. An Alternate Contact is not required, but Providers can specify one or more Alternate Contacts. It is very important for a Principal or Responsible Official to change or delete Contacts when the Contacts are no longer with the firm or their position within the firm no longer warrants being a Contact.
“Congratulations! You’ve been accepted!”
After an applicant passes the suitability check and the IRS completes processing the application, the IRS notifies the applicant of acceptance to participate in IRS e-file. The IRS assigns Electronic Identification Filing Numbers (EFINs) to all accepted Providers.
Authorized IRS e-file Providers do not have to reapply each year as long as they continue to e-file returns. However, if a Provider does not e-file returns for two consecutive years, the IRS will notify the Provider of removal from the IRS active Provider list. The IRS may reactivate a Provider if the Provider replies within sixty days and requests reactivation. Otherwise, the Provider will have to complete and
submit a new application.
Providers do not need to submit a new IRS e-file Application each year to participate in IRS e-file.
Providers are required to have the appropriate identification numbers and should review their IRS e-file Application at IRS.gov to check their status. Providers may also contact e-Help, toll‑free at (866) 255‑0654 with questions regarding their e-file application status.
Providers must update their application information within thirty days of the date of any changes to the information on their current application. They can make all changes using the IRS e-file Application at the IRS.gov Web site.
Denial to Participate in IRS e-file
If the firm, a Principal, or a Responsible Official fails the suitability check, the IRS notifies the applicant that the application to participate in IRS e-file was denied. A date will also be furnished that the applicant may re-apply. In most circumstances, the denied applicant may appeal the decision through an Administrative Review.
Adding New Business Locations
Providers may need to submit new IRS e-file Applications when expanding their e-file businesses to new business locations. EROs must submit new applications for additional fixed locations from which the origination of the electronic submission of returns will occur. A fixed location is an office owned or leased by the Provider.
EROs may originate the electronic submission from other than fixed locations without submitting an application for each such location. The ERO uses the EFIN assigned to a fixed location for electronic submission of returns originated from other than fixed locations.
An application is not required for a location if tax returns are only prepared or collected at the location and forwarded to another location for origination of the electronic submission of returns.
Keep Your Information Current!
Providers should ensure that the IRS has current information by reviewing and either updating or revising their IRS e-file Applications on a periodic basis. Providers may review and update or revise, as necessary, their IRS e-file Application information electronically on the IRS Web site via e-services.
Providers must revise their IRS e-file Application within thirty days of a change of any information on the current application. It is important to update the IRS e-file Application with new information including changes to business structure, Principals, Responsible Officials, addresses, and telephone numbers. When the IRS does not have current information, it is not able to contact Providers to obtain and provide important information.
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