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Signing an Electronic Return Using a Practitioner 5-Digit Self-Select Personal Identification Number (PIN) Signature Method Using Form 8879-EMP


The MeF system requires taxpayers and providers to use one of four signature methods for signing electronic returns: the Practitioner 5-Digit Self-Select Personal Identification Number (PIN) method, Scanned Form 8453 Signature method, Reporting Agent PIN method and the Online Signature PIN method. Each method requires specific forms to be attached to the return and must follow certain steps required to sign the return electronically.

A tax return filed through MeF is a composite of electronically transmitted data. As with any income tax return submitted to the IRS on paper, an electronic income tax return must be signed by an authorized tax return signer of the entity type (corporation, partnership, estates and trusts, employment taxes or exempt organization), the ERO, and the paid preparer (if applicable).

The Practitioner 5-Digit Self-Select PIN Method can only be used if the taxpayer uses an ERO. Signing an employment return electronically using this method requires the following steps:

  • The ERO requests from the taxpayer to choose a five-digit, self-selected PIN as their electronic signature. The taxpayer can authorize the ERO to input this in the software, or the taxpayer can enter the PIN directly into the software.
  • The ERO completes and generates Form 8879-EMP and includes their PIN and the taxpayer’s self-selected PIN. The ERO’s electronic signature is comprised of an 11-digit PIN. The first six positions of the PIN are made up of the ERO’s EFIN and the next five positions are made up of numeric characters the ERO chooses. Note: The ERO must sign and complete the requested information in the “Certification and Authentication” section after thoroughly reading the declaration. The ERO is responsible for all electronically filed returns originated by its firm. EROs do not have to disclose their Employer Identification Number (EIN) on the copies they provide to taxpayers.
  • If the return was prepared for a fee, the ERO’s responsibility is to identify the paid preparer in the appropriate fields of the electronic return record for transmission. The ERO should complete the Form 8879-EMP with the information received from the taxpayer. The paid preparer should keep a copy of the return approved and signed by the taxpayer using the Form 8879-EMP.
  • The ERO and taxpayer must retain Form 8879-EMP for three years from the return due date, extended due date, or the IRS received date, whichever is later. The ERO should provide a copy of the Form 8879-EMP to the taxpayer, along with other return data as required. Do not mail form 8879-EMP to the IRS.
  • Signature authorization is made on the following Forms 8879 for corporate, partnership, employment, estate or trust, tax-exempt organizations and excise tax filers:

    Form Signature Authorization Form
    940, 940-PR, 941, 941-PR, 941-SS, 943, 943-PR, 944 and 945 8879-EMP (.pdf), IRS e-file Signature for Forms 940, 940-PR, 941, 941-PR, 941-SS, 943, 943-PR, 944, and 945
    990, 990EZ, 990-PF, 1120-POL and 8868 8879-EO (.pdf), IRS e-file Signature Authorization for an Exempt Organization
    1041 8879-F (.pdf), IRS e-file Signature Authorization for Form 1041
    1065 8879-PE (.pdf), IRS e-file Signature Authorization for Form 1065
    1120 8879-C (.pdf), IRS e-file Signature Authorization for Form 1120
    1120-S 8879-S (.pdf), IRS e-file Signature Authorization for Form 1120-S
    1120-F 8879-I (.pdf), IRS e-file Signature Authorization for Form 1120-F
    720, 2290, and 8849 8879-EX (.pdf), IRS e-file Signature Authorization for Forms 720, 2290, and 8849