How to Get Started
Before you can e-file returns with our software, there are two important tasks you must complete:
- Apply to the IRS.
You must be approved by the IRS for participation in the IRS e-file program.
The IRS now requires you to apply on-line in a rather involved process aimed
at ensuring that you are a suitable participant in their e-file program.
As explained in
IRS Pub. 3112 (IRS e-file Application and Participation),
application is a 3-step process:
To start this 3-step process, go to the
IRS website for e-file applications.
It can takes several weeks to complete this 3-step process, so you should apply well in advance
of the first tax season when you want to e-file.
(You do not have to reapply each year as long as your EFIN is in good
standing with the IRS. Furthermore, once you are accepted into the IRS's e-file program,
you are automatically enrolled in California's e-file program if you reside in California.)
- Step 1: Create an IRS e-services account. You must have an e-services account
before you can apply for e-file participation. To open the account, you must identify
yourself (including certain personal information) and create a username, password, and PIN
for the account. A confirmation code will then be mailed to you in order for you to
complete the registration of an e-services account. (Note that every pricipal and
responsible official in your firm must create his or her own e-services account.)
- Step 2: Submit an application to become an authorized IRS e-file provider.
The application is comprehensive and must be performed on-line. Unless you are a CPA or
enrolled agent, you may also need to provide fingerprints to the IRS.
- Step 3: Pass a suitability check.
After you apply, the IRS will conduct a suitability check on your firm and each person
identified as a pricipal or responsible official. This can include credit checks,
tax compliance checks, and criminal background checks. Once approved, you will
be issued an Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN), which you will use on
all returns that you e-file to the IRS.
- Annually purchase transmission software. You must annually purchase from HowardSoft
the e-file transmission software designed for the latest tax filing year. It will send to the IRS the e-file output
produced by HowardSoft Tax Preparer in the format required by the IRS.
e-file available: e-file transmission software is available for all Standard Level and Premium Level
CD-ROMs for Tax Preparer (1040) and California Supplement (540).
Even with our lowest-priced transmission software you can e-file an unlimited number of returns for a very low per-return transmission fee.
(With our highest-priced transmission software there is NO per return fee!)
Why use it? Electronic filing (now called "e-file" by the IRS)
has been around for years,
but you can expect more clients to request it every year because of the massive
publicity campaign that the IRS has mounted. The traditional
benefit to the client is a faster refund, often by weeks, including direct
deposit in the clients bank account. But the client can also use e-file to "file
now...pay later" for a balance-due return, delaying payment until April 15th
or paying automatically (electronically) on any specified date before that.
The client also has the comfort of confirmation from the IRS of receipt of the return
and validation of simple arithmetic on the return.
How it works. e-file is fully integrated into Tax Preparer
so that you can generate files for electronic filing as easily as printing a
return. Then, when you're ready to transmit your returns to the IRS, you merely
start the included transmission software and the returns are transmitted
securely through the internet for a low per-return fee.
Options. The e-file transmission software is available at four levels.
For the 2021 filing season, the prices for Form 1040 e-file are:
- Basic ($105). Our lowest-priced option lets you transmit an unlimited number of
returns for $5.20 per return transmission to the IRS.
- Silver ($279). Our next option lets you perform 37 return transmissions free plus
an unlimited number of additional return transmissions at $4.15 each.
- Gold ($499). Our mid-priced option lets you perform 100 return transmissions free plus
an unlimited number of additional return transmissions at $3.15 each.
- Platinum ($979). Our highest-priced option lets you transmit an unlimited number of
returns with NO per-transmission fee.
Note that the above prices are regular prices for the 2021 filing season.
For the latest pricing information, see our on-line