Signing an Electronic Filing

All physical (paper) tax returns must be signed by a taxpayer, but what happens when the taxpayer decides to electronically file their taxes? Well, according to the IRS, all taxpayers must sign the return that they transmit regardless of how it is transmitted, physically or electronically. The two most common methods of signing a personal income tax return both involve entering a series of numbers that the IRS uses to verify this is the taxpayer who is signing. The first, and most common way to sign is to provide your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) amount from the prior year. For more on where to find your AGI on your tax return please see our page on AGI calculation.

The second method is to utilize a Self-Select Pin. This is a 5-digit number that the taxpayer typically creates the year prior to serve as their electronic signature in future tax filings. You can re-use your 5-digit Self-Select pin every year or create a new one to use as long as you know your AGI. Either your AGI or your Self-Select Pin can be used to digitally sign your tax filing.

If the taxpayer doesn't know it or can't remember the AGI and has no success by contacting the filing service he/she has used in past years, it's now possible to go online to the IRS to get it. The taxpayer can request a transcript which should show the AGI. The IRS has expanded the Get Transcript part of their website and type of transcripts they provide.

There are also less common methods, than those listed above, of signing one's electronic filings. For example, for taxpayers who have been victims of tax-related fraud there is an IP Pin. This is a six-digit number the IRS has assigned to tax-related fraud victims. Once a taxpayer has been assigned a six-digit IP Pin, they must hang on to it. It will be used on all federal tax returns they file now and in the future. IP Pins are provided to taxpayers via US postal mail.

Reminder, the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email or text message or through social media to request personal or financial information. Nor do they call taxpayers with threats of lawsuits or arrests. When the IRS initiates communication with a taxpayer it is always done through the US Post Office. If you suspect tax fraud may have occurred, you can obtain a transcript from the IRS website and review your tax filing history for irregularities.

Q&A: I don't have a copy of my tax return, how do I find my AGI?

If you don't have a copy of your tax return, you can order a copy of your Tax Return Transcript from the IRS. Your transcript may partially mask personally identifiable information while financial information remains visible in order verify income, obtain AGI, or check calculations. The transcript will show what was previously filed, paid and refunded, however, it will not provide you with a copy of your W-2 unless this was accompaning a paper return.

There is also another type of transcript you may request called a Wage and Income Transcript, which shows more in-depth information from Forms W-2, 1099, 1098, and Form 5498, as well as IRA contribution Information. Both transcripts are available through the "Get Transcript" tool on the IRS website. Information can be ordered on the past three tax returns and should include any post-filing adjustments that have been made to the returns.

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