e-File Application Tutorial

This tutorial provides guidance on creating and modifying an e-file Application

Creating Your Application to Become an Authorized IRS e-file Provider

To become an Authorized IRS e-file Provider, an individual must complete and submit an IRS e-file Application on behalf of a firm. After you register with e-Services, you can begin the e-file application process.

This tutorial will provide information required to complete, modify, and submit an IRS e-file Application. You do not have to complete an e-file Application in one session. It can be saved and completed at a later time, but it only remains in a saved status for 90 days. Note: It can take up to 45 days for the IRS to approve an e-file application.

The typical process for completing an IRS e-file Application for most firms will consist of the following steps:

  1. An author begins the application and identifies other individuals in the firm as Principals, Principal Consents, Responsible Officials, Delegated Users and Contacts, as needed. The author doesn't need to be included on the e-file application. Once the application is submitted by an authorized person, the author can no longer access the application.
  2. Principals and Responsible Officials must also register with e-Services and access the application to answer their own personal suitability questions before the application can be submitted.
  3. After the application is completed and submitted, the IRS conducts a suitability check before granting the firm Authorized e-file Provider status. The suitability check may include a background, tax compliance, and credit checks.
  4. Any users authorized to access the application must continue to modify the application as necessary and submit changes to the IRS.
Several important things to note to complete an e-file application:

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Pass a Suitability Check

After you submit your application and related documents, the IRS will conduct a suitability check on the firm and each Principal and Responsible Official listed on your application. This may include a credit check, a tax compliance check, a criminal background check and a check for prior non-compliance with IRS e-file requirements. Once approved, you will get an acceptance letter from the IRS with your Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN).

Maintaining your e-file application

Once you have completed the e-file Application process and received your EFIN, it is important that you keep your account up-to-date. This includes:

  1. Reviewing your e-file Application periodically. Your e-file application must be updated within 30 days of any changes such as individuals involved, addresses or telephone numbers. Failure to do so may result in the inactivation of your EFIN.
  2. Ensuring proper individuals are identified on the application. Update as necessary by adding any new Principals or Responsible Officials.
  3. Updating any address changes needed - both business and mailing.

Note: There must be an EFIN application for each office location. If you expand your business, an application is required for each location where e-file transmissions occur. Your EFIN is not transferable; if you sell your business, the new Principals must obtain their own EFIN.

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How to access an e-file Application

To access the IRS e-file Application, you must first select the TIN Matching Application product and then you will be prompted to login to e-Services using your current login information. If you have not yet registered through Secure Access you will be prompted to do so upon selecting an e-Services product. All users must create an IRS online account using a two-factor authentication process called Secure Access. For more information about the Secure Access Authentication process, see Secure Access: How to Register for Certain Online Self-Help Tools.

Login Page

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Starting a new IRS e-file Application

ESAM Application Landing Page

Select 'e-File Application' from the drop-down.

Firm Information

'Firm Information' is the initial screen displayed when you select 'e-file Application'. All information indicated with an asterisk is required. Only 'Volunteer Organizations' can choose 'None Required' for the 'Tax ID' selection. If a 'Doing Business As' name is not entered, the system will default to the 'Legal Name' in this field.

The question, 'Do you want your firm/organization contact information posted on the IRS.gov public website?' (ERO Locator), defaults to 'Yes'. If you do not want this posted, select 'No'. If you answer 'Yes' to the question about operating a website that collects taxpayer data, you are required to update your application once it is complete, you receive your EFIN, and provide the URL information. A menu option will be available to select so you can provide this information.

Select 'Continue' to the next page.

Selecting 'Cancel' will return you to the 'ESAM Landing Page'.

Application Details

Provider options are added by selecting the 'Provider Options' drop-down. A brief description for each provider option are below:

Electronic Return Originator (ERO) - (most common) originates the electronic submission of tax returns to the IRS.

Intermediate Service Provider - assists with processing return information between an ERO (or a taxpayer in the case of Online Filing) and a Transmitter.

Reporting Agent - originates the electronic submission of certain returns for its clients, and/or transmits the returns to the IRS. A Reporting Agent must be an accounting service, franchiser, bank, or other entity.

Software Developer - writes either origination or transmission software according to the IRS e-file specifications.

Transmitter - sends the electronic return data directly to the IRS. EROs and Reporting Agents may apply to be transmitters and transmit return data themselves, or they may contract with accepted third-party transmitters that can transmit the data for them.

Online Provider - An Online Provider allows taxpayers to self-prepare returns by entering return data directly on commercially available software, software downloaded from an Internet site and prepared off-line, or through an online Internet site.

Affordable Care Act (ACA) Provider - An ACA Provider is a business or entity engaged in manufacturing or importing branded prescription drugs sold to specified government programs ('covered entity') or a health insurance provider reporting net premium written ('covered entity') that originates the electronic submission of its own information report(s) or a third party that will transmit report(s) on behalf of a covered entity.

Large Taxpayer - A Large Taxpayer is a Provider Option on the IRS e-file Application, but it is not an Authorized IRS e-file Provider. A Large Taxpayer is a business or other entity with assets of $10 million or more, or a partnership with more than 100 partners, that originates the electronic submission of its own return(s).

For more information on these Provider Options, download IRS Publication IRS Publication 3112, IRS e-file Application and Participation, from the IRS web site.

Add Provider Option Information

This screen displays the Provider Options and the Service Type. You must choose a Service Type of either 'For Profit' or 'Not for Profit'. Note: Forms are automatically populated based on the options selected.

Using the drop-down menu under Service Type, select whether your firm is a 'For Profit' (most common) or 'Not for Profit' organization, unless you selected ACA Provider Option. ACA Providers will select 'Covered Entity' or 'Third Party'.

To add more than one Provider Option to your firm's application, complete the Provider Option section, select SAVE and then select additional Provider Options as needed. Your list of provider options will appear in the table on the 'Application Details' page.

Note: If ACA Provider Option is selected, the Service Type of 'Covered Entity' or 'Third Party File' must be selected. Covered Entity must also select the 'Type of Business Activity'.

Application Details with Provider Options selected

This screen displays the 'Application Details' with the provider options of Electronic Return Originator and Transmitter selected. As shown, the provider options are currently in the 'Provider Option Status' of 'Applied'.

You may View, Edit, Delete or ADD Provider Option as needed.

Authorized Users

This screen displays the 'Authorized Users'. The 'Role ID' field is a key field for system use only. To add a user, select the 'ADD' button.

Authorized user consists of the following:
  • Principals
  • Principal Consent
  • Responsible Official
  • Delegated User
  • Primary Contact
  • Alternate Contact


Principals are the individuals within your firm held legally responsible by the IRS for the activities of the firm.

Note: Principals are not required for Not for Profit applications and those that select the provider option of Large Taxpayer and/or ACA 'Covered Entity' only.

  • In a corporation, Principals should include the President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer
  • In a partnership, Principals should include any Partner who owns at least 5% of the firm
  • In a sole proprietorship, the Principal is the proprietor

The Principals page prompts you to identify the Principals in your firm.

If the Principal is also a Responsible Official, check the box next to the statement 'Add this person as a Responsible Official'. If the Principal is also the Primary Contact, check the box next to the statement 'Add this person as a Primary Contact'.

Click 'SAVE' after all information has been entered.

You can add multiple Principals for your firm by selecting the 'SAVE' button, then completing the identification information for a new Principal.

Responsible Official

A Responsible Official is an individual with responsibility for and authority over the IRS e-file operation at designated locations. The Responsible Official is the first point of contact with the IRS and has default authorities to view and update the application and add, delete and change Responsible Officials.

To change the default or add additional authorities of a Responsible Official, select the 'Authorities' at the bottom of the page.

You may delegate authorities to an individual, however, by delegating these responsibilities you will still be responsible for this person's actions and activities.

Delegated Users

The Principals or Responsible Officials of an organization may name Delegated Users who can be authorized to perform certain actions regarding an IRS e-file Application based on authorities granted.

The following authorities are available for a Delegated User:

  • View Application Information
  • Update Application Information
  • Sign and Submit Applications
  • Add, Delete, and Change Principals
  • Add, Delete, and Change Responsible Officials
  • Software Package Information
  • Transmitter Role
  • MeF System Enroller
  • Reporting Agent Transcript Delivery System
  • Transcript Delivery System

Note: The Delegated User will not be granted any of these authorities by default. Be sure to use the 'Authorities' to select the authorities you want the Delegated User to have.

Their ability to use Transcript Delivery Service will be automatically enabled when your firm's IRS e-file Application is successfully completed and when your firm has e-filed 5 or more accepted returns.

A person with Principal Consent has the same authorities as a Principal which does not include Transmitter Role, MeF System Enroller, Reporting Agent Transcript Delivery System, and Transcript Delivery System. No additional authorities can be granted.

Primary Contact

A Primary Contact is required for the application. Complete the Primary Contact section with the required information unless you selected ‘Add this person as a Primary Contact’ on the Principal or Responsible Official page. A Primary Contact is a person who will be available daily to answer IRS questions regarding this application and any processing issues throughout the year. Complete the required information and click ‘SAVE’.

Alternate Contact

Enter an Alternate Contact who the IRS may talk to if the Primary Contact is unavailable.

Alternate Contacts are not required, but if you want to specify Alternate Contacts, complete the Alternate Contacts section and click on ‘SAVE’.

Authorized Users

This page shows the table of the Authorized Users.

You View, Edit Delete or ADD any users by using the respective icon.

Application Summary for a saved e-file Application

The application summary will show information for the Firm, Authorized User(s), Terms of Agreement Signature(s) and Personal Information, Provider Option(s), Forms Transmission Status, EFIN(s), ETIN(s) and the Application Status.

Select the 'Update Firm Suitability Answers' link under 'Firm' to answer the questions. These questions must be answered for the firm prior to submitting the application.

Each Principal and Responsible Official must answer the personal information question and sign the Terms of Agreement (TOA). Select the 'Personal Information' link under the 'Terms of Agreement Signature(s) & Personal Information' to access these pages.

The 'EFIN(s)' and 'ETIN(s)' will be assigned once the application is submitted, accepted and completed.

The Summary Page also has a menu at the top of the page. You can use this menu to return to previous pages within the application.

Personal Information and Suitability Questions

Any Principal and Responsible Official who is an Attorney, CPA, Enrolled Agent, Banking Official who is bonded and been fingerprinted in the last two years or a Corporate Officer of a Publicly Owned Corporation must select, 'ADD CREDENTIAL', select the applicable professional title/type, and enter additional information as required.

Personal Suitability Questions

Answer the Suitability Questions, enter your PIN created during the initial registration, accept the TOA and select ‘SAVE’.

Firm/Organization Suitability Questions

Answer the 'Firm/Organization Suitability Questions' and select 'SAVE'.

Application Comments

You may enter application comments on this page. Select 'ADD', enter comments and 'SAVE'.

Application Submission

When you have completed the application process and all required information has been entered, you must SUBMIT the application for review and approval by the IRS.

Enter your PIN from the initial registration, check the TOA box, and select 'SUBMIT'. Only a Principal or designated Responsible Official can submit the application.

Modifying e-Services PIN

To modify an existing e-Services PIN, select the Modify PIN tab located at the top of the screen. Create a five-digit PIN and submit. This PIN can then be used to sign the e-file application.

Submission Completed

Once a correctly completed IRS e-file Application is submitted, an acknowledgment, including a tracking number, appears advising the application processing will begin.

Here's what will happen after you submit your IRS e-file Application:

  1. The identification records you provided will be checked against IRS databases to make sure that they are complete and correct.
  2. If a fingerprint check is necessary for your firm's Principals and Responsible Officials, fingerprint cards will be forwarded to the FBI for criminal history check.
  3. The tax compliance history of the firm, the Principals, and Responsible Officials will be checked as part of the Suitability analysis.
  4. A credit check may be performed as part of the Suitability analysis.

If all the suitability and identification checks pass, your firm will be issued the following via U.S. mail:

  • For all Authorized IRS e-file Providers, an Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN), will be issued.
  • For firms applying for a status of Transmitter or Software Developer, an Electronic Transmitter Identification Number (ETIN) will be issued.
  • For Reporting Agents, a Reporting Agent PIN will be issued.

Application Summary for a completed e-file Application

The Application Summary page provides a summary of the information included in the application.

When the application is completed, the summary page will show the Application Status as 'Completed'.

You can view the Firm Suitability Status, the Personal Suitability Status, Terms of Agreement Status, Professional Status, Fingerprint Status and Provider Option Status from the summary page.

Once an EFIN is assigned, you can view the EFIN and ETIN Status.

The menu at the top on the Summary Screen can be used to access an area within the application that need to be modified.

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Modify an existing e-file Application

Principals, Responsible Officials, and Delegated Users may update or modify an application.

Select the Organization you would like to modify and 'SUBMIT'.

From the ESAM Application Landing Page you may View/Edit the business you wish to modify which will take you to the Summary page of the application. You may choose Add New Location if that is what you intend to do.

You use the menu at the top of the summary to access the area in which you need to modify on the existing application.

You may also delete the organization from the landing page if you have closed that office.

You can return to this screen, 'ESAM Landing Page' by selecting 'Cancel' in the bottom right corner or any screen in your application.

Search an existing Application

From the ESAM Application Landing Page select 'Search'.

Select the criteria you wish to search by selecting the drop down under the 'Search By'. You can search by multiple criteria's using the green plus.

Search results will populate in the table below. Select the View/Edit icon to access the application.

URL Collection

Any provider that answers 'Yes' to the question 'Do you own or operate Web site(s) through which taxpayer information is collected, transmitted, stored or processed?' is required to register the URL on its e-file application. The menu option is available only if the answer was 'Yes' and the EFIN has been issued. The provider must return to the application and update this information.

Upload URLs

You may upload URLs in bulk using a file. The file must be comma-delimited (CSV) in the following format: EFIN1, URL1, EFIN2, URL2, etc.

You may ADD URLs

Self Certification Questions

This page displays the self-certification questions that must be answered by all Online Providers. It also shows the date they were last updated. After answering the questions, you must attest that you comply, sign using their registration PIN and select 'SAVE'. If needed, a glossary is provided giving a description of each question by selecting the link.

Self Certification Question Glossary

This page displays the description of each question providing information on how to answer when the glossary link is selected.

Monitoring your EFIN

The EFIN Status screen will give you the number of returns the IRS received, which you can match to your records. The statistics are updated weekly. This will show the EFIN, Return/Form type, Processing Year, Transmitted YTD, Accepted YTD and the Reject YTD.

To check the status, select 'EFIN Status' from the Menu at the top of the Summary Screen.

Software Packages

Applicants that have selected 'Software Developer' as a Provider Option can select 'Software Packages' from the menu page to view information on their Software Package.

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