It’s no secret that the IRS processes e-filed returns more quickly and with fewer inaccuracies as compared to paper returns received via mail. Taxpayers also tend to receive their refunds faster when their returns are e-filed, making Authorized IRS e-file Providers a more favorable choice come tax time. In fact, even the IRS prefers e-filed returns over paper documents submitted by mail.

In order to electronically file returns, tax preparers need an Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN). When the IRS assigns an EFIN to a tax professional, that individual or business officially becomes an Authorized IRS e-file Provider. Currently, there is no fee associated with obtaining this status, though interested parties must submit an application to the IRS and pass a suitability check to receive an EFIN.

Upon successfully satisfying IRS requirements and receiving an EFIN, Authorized IRS e-file Providers enter into a partnership with the IRS with a shared responsibility to safeguard e-filed returns from abuse and fraud. Because protecting taxpayer information is of chief importance, Providers are required to implement security measures to prevent unsanctioned access by third parties to all sensitive and private data.

If you haven’t yet applied for your EFIN, the time to do so is now. The entire process can take six or more weeks to complete, so it’s critical for your business to take this step sooner rather than later. Submit your application to the IRS to get started, and discover multiple benefits for both your clients and your business in the upcoming tax season — and for years to come.