Knowledge Base

10529: e-File a Return


Which year(s) of returns can be e-filed? How do I e-file a return?


Years Supported

The IRS supports e-file of the current year tax return and the two prior years through the MeF system (Modernized e-File system). During the 2023 tax year, you can e-file a 2023, 2022, or 2021 return from the corresponding year of Drake Tax. All other prior years must be paper-filed. 

Compliance with an e-filing deadline is based on the time the return is e-filed, not on service center receipt times. The deadline is midnight local time on the date the return is due. Once a return is transmitted, it goes directly to the IRS and cannot be stopped or recalled. Drake Software strongly suggests that you e-file several hours before the deadline to ensure a timely filing.

Remember that to be able to transmit a prior year state return, Drake Software must support that return type and the state must be able to accept them for that year.

Return Type

What Years Can Be e-Filed1

 1120, 1120S, 1065,
990, 70042
Current year and two immediately preceding years

1Subject to scheduled maintenance outages (see KB 10747 and 13734 for details)
With certain limited exceptions, the instructions for Form 7004 advise that it must be filed on or before the due date of the applicable tax return. An untimely Form 7004 cannot be cured by e-filing it.

For more information see, "1.4 General Information About MeF," under the heading "Current and prior 2 Tax Years are Accepted" in Publication 4164. The IRS provides information about processing expectations here:

e-File Steps

Assuming that you are e-filing a main federal form (such as Forms 1040, 1120, 1120-S, 1065, 990), there are four steps to e-filing:

  1. Confirm that the return is complete and eligible to be e-filed.
    • Make sure that all updates have been installed.
    • View the return.
    • Clear any red messages.
    • Calculate the return and ensure that a green check is beside all desired forms. 
  2. Select the return for e-filing under EF > Select Returns for EF
    • A report generates showing the return(s) that have been selected for EF. No returns have been transmitted at this point.
      Note: If you return to data entry and make changes to a return that has already been selected for EF, but not transmitted, you will receive a pop-up that states that the return was removed from the "queue" and must be re-selected from EF > Select Returns for EF. If you need to remove entries from the list under EF, see KB 10379 for details.
  3. Transmit the return by going to EF > Transmit/Receive
    • Take a moment to ensure that only returns that should be transmitted are showing.
    • Note that once a return is transmitted, it goes directly to the IRS and cannot be stopped or recalled. 
    • You can remove returns by clicking Review
    • When you are ready to transmit, click the Send/Receive button. 
      • A transmission report will show for a brief moment during transmission. This report is generated for record keeping purposes. You can see a copy of the transmission report by going to Reports > Report Viewer > Transmission Reports
      • Important: Once you click Send/Receive, there is no way to cancel the transmission. 
  4. Process acknowledgments by going to EF > Process Acks
    • This will show you the pending acknowledgement report for the returns that were transmitted and pull in any waiting IRS or state acks from previously filed returns. 

Once the January release is available, you can file returns even before the IRS opens their e-file system. Any returns filed this way will have the acknowledgement code 'P' until the IRS opens their e-filing system. You can check for additional acknowledgements later on by going to EF > Transmit/Receive and clicking Acks Only. Always process those acks by going to EF > Process acks after picking them up.

The above steps assume that Setup > Options > EF > Combine EF steps (Select, Transmit, Post Acks) is not selected. If EF steps are combined, you won't be able to follow the instructions as detailed above. Confirm that the option box is not checked; clear it if it is checked.


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