The IRS FIRE System and File Format Requirements

The IRS FIRE system is the electronic network used to accept and process most types of filing forms. Technically, it stands for File Information Returns Electronically. Like almost any aspect of complying with the IRS’s byzantine rules, it can seem like working with this electronic network is a big pain in the butt.

Unless your business is operating under unusual circumstances, it’s not really that complicated, especially if you have a good software companion. Nevertheless, it certainly can feel that way—doubly so if you’re struggling with your software or overrun with managing the other aspects of your business.

How to Use the IRS FIRE System

First and foremost, the IRS needs a way to verify that the electronic submissions they receive are coming from the business/payer. To do this, the IRS requires payers to file Form 4419. This is the application for obtaining a Transmitter Control Code (TCC), which helps the IRS keep the system secure. You’ll also need to register and create an account through this online portal.

These initial steps will also help you—or your tax professional—understand the scope of the system. As Form 4419 says, the IRS FIRE System “does not provide an on-line fill-in option. You must transmit your data in the specific format required.”

The IRS FIRE File Format

If you’re like most business owners and accounting professionals, you probably have other things to do and other skillsets to rely on rather than trying to write your own software that’s compatible with the IRS FIRE File Format. That’s why Advanced Micro Solutions (AMS) took on this task for you. AMS E-File Software is exactly what you need to create files in the correct format, reliably and cost-effectively. Better yet, we have multiple options. You can file an unlimited number of forms for one low rate with our E-File Direct module. We also partner with a third-party vendor that offers e-file services with fees based on the number of filings.

Looking for more information about how to use the IRS FIRE system? You can find an easy-to-understand guide here. You can also find more complete instructions and a Quick Reference Guide for First-Time Filers in IRS Publication 1220. This publication also lays out the essential details of the IRS FIRE File Format itself. It contains 6 Records for which each record contains 750 defined fields. The 6 Records are:

  • The T Record is for the Transmitter Identification.
  • The A Record is for Payer Identification.
  • The B Record is for Payee Identification.
  • The C Record is the Summary of Payee Records and Money Amounts.
  • The K Record is the Summary of State Totals.
  • The F Record is the End of Transmission.


Get AMS Software Support

Whether you’re just starting to look into the e-file requirements from the IRS or you’ve already started the process of filing Form 4419 and setting up your FIRE account, there’s never a bad time to buy software support from AMS. You can opt for our standalone W-2/1099 Forms Filer and E-File, but you should also take a look at AMS Payroll, Software-Generated Forms and our entire catalog of products. You can download our free demo and buy your AMS software directly online. Have lingering questions? Don’t hesitate to contact our Sales and Info team at (800) 536-1099.


Software Solutions from AMS

Our W-2 and 1099 Forms Filer is our only required platform. From there, users pick the services they need. Choose from the tools below to build out your customized accounting software.