If the taxpayer signs his return using either of the electronic signature methods, the ERO must also sign with a PIN. The same PIN must be used by the ERO for the full tax year and may be manually input or software generated in the electronic record in the location designated for the ERO EFIN/PIN. When the ERO enters a PIN in the EFIN/PIN field, the ERO is affirming the ERO Declaration. If the return preparer is also the ERO, the preparer is declaring under the penalties of perjury that the return was reviewed and is true, correct, and complete.
EROs are responsible for all electronic returns originated by their firms even if the ERO authorizes members of their firms or specific employees to sign for them.
If the ERO firm does not prepare a return, then the ERO that originates the electronic submission will attest that the return preparer signed the copy of the return and that the electronic return contains the same tax information as that contained in the paper return. The paid preparer’s identifying information (e.g., name, address, and PTIN) must also be entered in the e-file return.
Various methods for signing Forms 8879 and 8878 are available to EROs. Permissible methods include rubber stamp, mechanical device (such as a signature pen), or computer software as described in Notice 2007-79. An EROs signature must include either an exact copy of that ERO’s signature or printed name. EROs are personally responsible, even if using one of these alternative means, for affixing their signatures to returns or requests for extension. In every case, taxpayers must sign Form 8879 and Form 8878 by a handwritten signature. EROs must retain Forms 8879 and 8878 for three years from the return due date or the IRS received date, whichever is later. Forms 8879 and 8878 should not be sent to the IRS unless the IRS requests that the ERO do so.
Participants Acceptance Testing (PATS) is required testing for all Software Developers that participate in IRS e-file of individual income tax returns to assess their software and transmission capability with the IRS, prior to live processing. PATS Communications Test is required for all Transmitters using accepted IRS e-file software for individual income tax returns to assess their transmission capability with the IRS, prior to live processing.