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Incorporating e-file Into Your Office

Differences with e-file

Incorporating e-file into your office can be easier than you think. There are primarily three areas that change when converting a paper income tax return office to an e-file income tax return office. These areas are:

  • Preparing the return
  • The signature process
  • Filing the return

In general, when you prepare a paper return for your client you follow these steps:

  1. Request your client's tax information (either in person or via the mail):
  2. Complete your client's return.
  3. Provide your client with a copy of their return for review and instructions for signing and submitting the return to the IRS and FTB.

With e-file, the process is very similar. One difference is that you now become the submitter of the return. This means that after your clients review and sign their returns, you are responsible for filing the returns with the IRS and FTB.

Preparing the Return

If you already use tax preparation software, the changes in preparing an e-file return are minimal. With e-file, you:

  • Enter all of the information from your clients' withholding statements. On a positive note...most software will retain all of this information, so you can use it the next year without having to re-enter the data.
  • Use the return checks or diagnostic tools provided by your software. This will help identify any necessary corrections before you give the return to your client for review. See your software for information and instructions.

In January 2017, FTB introduced the ability to submit a stand-alone Electronic Funds Withdrawal (EFW) request for extension and estimate payments if supported by your software (contact your software provider for more information). These payment requests will be accepted as “stand-alone”, and can be submitted separately from the e-filed return.

Filing the Return

As we mentioned at the beginning of this tutorial, the main difference between paper returns and e-file is that you now become the submitter of the return. Once you prepare the return and both you and your client sign the California e-file Return Authorization (form FTB 8453 series), the California e-file Signature Authorization (form FTB 8879 series), or use the Self-Select PIN Method (individual only), you need to complete three more steps:

  • Transmit the return.
  • Get the return acknowledgement.
  • Resolve business rule errors on rejected returns.


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Last Updated: 04.27.2018


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