Tax Preparers E-Filing Rules Review: Kiplinger Tax Letter

Tax preparers who expect to file more than 10 returns in a year are expected to file them electronically. But there are some exceptions.

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Here's a review of the tax preparer e-filing rules, which have been around since 2011. Paid tax preparers who expect to file more than 10 Forms 1040, 1040-SR, 1040-NR or 1041, or any combination of those during the year, must electronically file them. There are three escape hatches.

  • First, clients can opt out of e-filing. Returns that clients mail to the IRS aren’t treated as filed by the preparer and don’t count against the 10-return cap. Clients who choose this option must do so in writing. Preparers must keep a copy of the signed statement in their file and attach Form 8948 to the tax return that the client mails to the IRS. Note that preparers can provide filing instructions, addressed envelopes, stamps, etc., as long as the client actually mails the return. 
  • Second, preparers can request a hardship waiver on Form 8944. Preparers seeking a hardship waiver must generally send Form 8944 to the IRS by February 15 of the year for which a waiver is sought. Waivers are valid for one calendar year. If you get one, don’t attach it to your client’s tax return. Instead, attach Form 8948. 
  • Third, there are a few administrative exemptions. For example, preparers who are members of certain religious groups that are conscientiously opposed to electronic technology needn’t e-file. Again, attach Form 8948 to the return.

See for a helpful set of FAQs on this subject.

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This first appeared in The Kiplinger Tax Letter. It helps you navigate the complex world of tax by keeping you up-to-date on new and pending changes in tax laws, providing tips to lower your business and personal taxes, and forecasting what the White House and Congress might do with taxes. Get a free issue of The Kiplinger Tax Letter or subscribe.

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Joy Taylor
Editor, The Kiplinger Tax Letter

Joy is an experienced CPA and tax attorney with an L.L.M. in Taxation from New York University School of Law. After many years working for big law and accounting firms, Joy saw the light and now puts her education, legal experience and in-depth knowledge of federal tax law to use writing for Kiplinger. She writes and edits The Kiplinger Tax Letter and contributes federal tax and retirement stories to and Kiplinger’s Retirement Report. Her articles have been picked up by the Washington Post and other media outlets. Joy has also appeared as a tax expert in newspapers, on television and on radio discussing federal tax developments.