FAQs about Signing Your Income Tax Return

Self-Select PIN and AGI 101

What is the Self-Select PIN method? (back to top)

The Self-Select PIN method is one option for taxpayers to use when signing their electronic tax return. The PIN is any five numbers (except all zeros) the taxpayer chooses to enter as their electronic signature. A PIN is needed for each taxpayer if filing through an Electronic Return Originator (ERO) or with Tax Preparation Software. The taxpayer's date of birth and prior year's adjusted gross income (AGI) from the original return must also be entered for authentication.

Is the Self-Select PIN a Universal PIN? (back to top)

No, it is used as your electronic signature on your individual income tax return only. However, you may also use it as a piece of authentication when electronically signing your tax return next year.

Can I use the same PIN next year? (back to top)

Yes.  You have the option of using the same pin or you may choose a different five-digit pin (except all zeros.)

How can I get my prior year's original adjusted gross income (AGI) if I don't have last year's tax return? (back to top)

The IRS can supply this information for you. Simply click on "Get PIN" on the page where your prior year AGI or PIN is requested. You will be taken to the IRS's website where you will receive an Electronic Filing PIN (EFP) that you can use in place of your prior year AGI or PIN.

If I have never filed a tax return or did not need to file a tax return last year, what amount do I enter for the prior year's original AGI? (back to top)

You must enter zero (0) for the AGI. Do not leave this field blank.

If my filing status this year is different from the year before, what AGI do I use? (back to top)

If the change is "to" Married Filing Jointly, then each taxpayer must use their individual original total AGI amount from their respective prior year's tax returns. If the change is "from" Married Filing Jointly, then each taxpayer must use the same original total AGI amount from the prior year's joint return.

If I had an ITIN (IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) when I filed my tax return last year, but now I have an SSN this filing season, what prior year AGI amount do I use? (back to top)

Enter zero ("0") for your prior year's original AGI.

What AGI amount should be used if I filed jointly with a different spouse last year? (back to top)

Use the AGI amount from the joint return filed with the ex-spouse.

Do both taxpayers need a PIN if they are filing a joint return? (back to top)

Yes, each taxpayer must sign using a PIN. The taxpayers will choose any five digits, except all zeros, as their electronic signatures.

What AGI amount should be used when only one of the joint return's taxpayers earned all the wages? (back to top)

Both taxpayers on the joint return will use the total AGI amount from the originally filed return. The AGI amount should not be divided between the primary earner and the other spouse.

Can I electronically file a joint return if my spouse is unable to sign because he/she is serving in a combat zone or qualified hazardous duty area, and if I do not have a power of attorney or other statement? (back to top)

Yes, a joint return can be electronically filed without the spouse's electronic PIN signature in this case.

If I filed an amended tax return last year, what AGI amount should I use? (back to top)

You must use the original AGI amount from the originally filed return. This year's return will be rejected if the amended AGI amount is used. Do not use amounts from an amended return, a corrected amount from a math error notice, or a changed amount from the IRS.

If I filed last year's tax return after April 15, what AGI amount should I use? (back to top)

If your prior year's tax return was not received and processed by the IRS by December 15, you must enter zero ("0") for the AGI amount. If the return is rejected due to a mismatch of the AGI, resubmit the return using the actual values.

If my prior year's AGI is negative, what should I use? (back to top)

If your prior year AGI is negative you need to enter the AGI as a negative amount.

What happens if two taxpayers select and use the same PIN to sign their return? (back to top)

It is acceptable for two taxpayers to choose the same five-digit PIN. Additional personal information (SSN, date of birth and original AGI or PIN from your prior year's tax return) that you provide to the IRS is used to further verify your identity.

Do states require a signature for e-file? (back to top)

State requirements are different. Some states use a pre-assigned PIN like the Customer Service Number (CSN) for California while some require a signed paper form. When you use eSmart, we will guide you through state requirements based on where you live or are filing. You need to follow the instructions carefully to ensure compliance.Start your return now!

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