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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:

  • Practitioner 5-Digit Self-Select Personal Identification Number (PIN) method (TaxMe's preferred method)
  • Scanned Form 8453 Signature method
  • Reporting Agent PIN method
  • 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 tax return submitted to the IRS on paper, an electronic return must be signed by an authorized signer, the ERO, and the paid preparer (if applicable).

The Practitioner 5-Digit Self-Select Personal Identification Number (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.
  • Taxpayer chooses a five-digit, self-selected PIN as their signature. The PIN number can be any combination of numbers except all zeros.
  • 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. Form 8879-EMP must be retained by both the ERO and the taxpayer for 3 years from the return due date. 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. Form 8879-EMP should not be mailed to the IRS unless the IRS requests a copy.

The follwing employment forms can use Form 8879-EMP: 940, 940-PR, 941, 941-PR, 941-SS, 943, 943-PR, 944 and 945