How to File Tax Without an Electronic PIN

by Denise Caldwell ; Updated July 27, 2017

A PIN is a four-digit number used on electronically-submitted returns as a substitute for the taxpayer’s signature. Taxpayers self-select their PIN when they efile their returns and use the same PIN for all future efiles. However, filing a return can sometimes be a hassle if a taxpayer forgets or loses the PIN. Thankfully, there a few ways to recover your PIN or file your return without your PIN if necessary.

Step 1

Use your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) instead of your PIN to sign your efiled return. Most online tax preparation software allows you to input either your PIN or your prior year AGI to sign the return. If you don’t have access to your PIN, just locate the AGI on your previous year’s tax return and enter it in the designated field. The AGI is located on line 21 of Form 1040A, line 37 on Form 1040, and line 4 on Form 1040EZ.

Step 2

Call the IRS at 800- 829-1040 to request your PIN. The PIN is reported along with the actual return, so it is possible for the IRS to retrieve the number. Be prepared for the IRS representative to ask you a series of questions including Social Security number, address, filing status, and date of birth for verification purposes. Once you’re given the PIN, file it in the same place where you normally store your prior year tax returns.

Step 3

Mail your paper return to the IRS if you are unable to locate your lost PIN or recover it from the IRS. If you are unsure where to mail your paper return, visit IRS.gov for details. The processing time frame for mailed returns is six to eight weeks as opposed to 10 days for efiled returns.

Tips

  • If this is your first time filing taxes, enter “0” in the field designated for AGI and leave the PIN field blank.

Warnings

  • If you enter an incorrect PIN, your return will be rejected and you will have to refile. You should receive an email from the online software company that you used to file the return advising you whether your return was accepted or rejected. If not, call the IRS customer service line at the aforementioned phone number.

About the Author

Denise Caldwell is a finance writer who has been writing on taxation and finance since 2006. Her articles appear regularly on websites such as Gomestic.com and MoneyNing.com. She has taken what she learned while working at the IRS to provide readers with helpful tax and finance tips. Caldwell received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Howard University.

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