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Avalara Help Center

ExSTARS User Guide for Avalara Returns Excise

This article applies to:Excise


This document applies to all license types.  Content last updated 1/31/2018. 
Help Center documentation is confidential and proprietary to Avalara clients.

Use this guide to setup and create Terminal Operator or Carrier returns for IRS ExSTARS reporting. Avalara Returns Excise is designed to conform to IRS standards as stated in their ExSTARS EDI Guide.  

Click here for filer generation information about Excise Summary Terminal Activity Reporting (ExSTARS).

In all cases where your filing status is in question, contact the ExSTARS Help Desk for assistance.

Add the Taxpayer Type 

  1. Click Maintenance > Companies.
  2. Add the appropriate taxpayer type and license information.
    • Available types are Terminal Operator (TOR) and Carrier (CAR).
    • In the License Number field, type your 637 Registration Number.
    • The 637 is assigned by the IRS in your Letter of Acceptance (LOA).
  3. Each Terminal Control Number (TCN) for which you report must be entered as a separate TOR-Terminal operator taxpayer type.

Terminal Operator Setup

For Carrier setup, skip to the Taxpayer Type section.

  1. Click Maintenance > Locations.
  2. Click Add new Record.
  3. Select the Region/State of the terminal.
  4. Select the Terminal Control Number (TCN) from the drop-down. When the Terminal Code is selected, the address auto fills from the Terminals table.
  5. If your terminal is not in the drop-down list, you can add it manually. The TCN list is automatically updated in quarterly software releases, but it may not be included yet if it is a new terminal. Follow these steps to add your terminal manually:
    • Click Maintenance > Terminals.
    • Type the terminal information and click Insert.
    • You can now select it from the Locations drop-down in the previous steps.
    • Click here for documentation on the Locations table.

Adding Terminal Operator Inventories

  1. Add Ending Inventories in Tax Filing > Schedule Transactions.
  2. Select the correct schedule for the inventory type:
    • INT01: Actual Physical Ending Inventory 
      • Ending Inventory is required for each terminal reported.
    • INT02: Ownership Change – Terminal Acquired
      • Ending inventory on the day a terminal is bought.
    • INT03: Ownership Change – Terminal Sold
      • Ending inventory on the day a terminal is sold.


Only report a change in ending inventory when there is fuel movement reported on a transaction schedule.  If your terminal had no activity but the gallons changed due to temperature, etc., report the ending inventory the same as the beginning inventory for the period.  Adjust the gallons on the next return period that contains transactions.

Transaction Entry and Form Generation

Follow the your normal procedures to enter your Receipts and Disbursements (manually or import), and generate and the tax return.  Click here for documentation on the Tax Filing Menu functions.

EDI Creation

  1. Click eFiling > eFile Creation > Add New Record.
  2. Verify the session and select the file(s) to include on the Tax Sessions tab.
    • ​Only sessions that have a successful return generation are available to select.
  3. Select Test or Production.
  4. Click the Settings tab and select the Contact.
    • The selections are populated from Maintenance > Taxpayer Contacts.
  5. The Control Seed Number is the eFile's internal identification.
    • It is a unique 4-digit number generated by the software.
    • Edit this number only if specifically instructed by Avalara Support.
  6. The FJ Control Number is not used on an Original filing.
    • It is a system-generated number used only for corrections filing.
  7. Type in the ISA and GS information (supplied by the IRS).

  8. Click the Inventory tab and select Include Beginning Inventory (used for TOR only).
    • The default is No.
    • A beginning inventory is required on the first filing for a terminal.
  9. Generate the EDI and submit it to the IRS following their instructions.
    • Refer to the IRS Guidelines for file naming standards.
  10. After the file is submitted to the IRS mark the Tax Session(s) as Filed.
    • Marking the tax session as 'filed' (or all sessions in the case of TOR) will automatically mark the EDI as 'submitted'.
  11. The EDI file moves to the eFiling > Submissions menu.

Once your eFile has been submitted to the IRS, do not make any changes to schedules or regenerate the EDI.  This will cause your Acknowledgment to fail.  Use the correction process outlined below to correct errors.

Process the 151 Acknowledgment File

Processing the 151 Acknowledgment File links the Control Seed Number in the Original file to matching Replacement, Correction or Supplemental files. It is contained in the segment ST~813 in the Original file. Any files created in response to the 151 Acknowledgment file received from the IRS must contain this same number in a segment called REF~FJ. Each time an EDI file is created it is assigned a Control Seed Number, which is a unique identifier.

For instance, an Original file with the control seed number 1234 is created for submission to ExSTARS:

  • The 151 Acknowledgment file returned from the IRS contains a reference to file control number.  For example, control number 1234 is formatted in the file as ST~813~1234~0200\
  • A Replacement, Correction or Supplement to this filing will contain a reference segment of  REF~FJ~1234\
  1. Click eFiling > eFile Submissions.
  2. Click the file you want to acknowledge.
    • The 151 Acknowledgment must match the period and control number of the EDI that was submitted as Original.
    • For TOR submissions, the Acknowledgment includes all terminals in one file.
  3. Click the TS151 tab, then click Upload New TS151 Acknowledgment.
  4. Click Select and browse to where the Acknowledgment file is saved, then click the Upload button.

    Note: the IRS provides two "151" files - .txt and .edi - you should only upload the .edi file.
  5. There will be a green dot by the File: line when a correctly named acknowledgment is selected.
    • This does not confirm that the correct file is associated with this EDI
  6. Click Upload to process the file.
    • A message on the box indicates if the upload was successful.
    • Close the upload window.
  7. When processing is completed, you will see Status: Passed.
    • If the wrong Acknowledgment for the tax session file is chosen, the status will show that it has failed.  Click the History Log tab for explanation.
  8. If there are “must fix” errors present in the acknowledgment, select the type of file to create as a correction in the lower left-hand corner of the screen and click Execute.
    • See amending an EDI for an explanation of types.
    • Create replacement in original session, flagging records in error.
    • Create correction amendment with must fix errors only.
    • Create correction amendment with both must fix and warning errors.

Amending an EDI

After processing the 151 Acknowledgment file, you may need to file an Amendment. There are three methods of amending ExSTARS:

  • Replacement – Information was in error or missing from a record.
  • Correction – Information was in error or missing from a record.
  • Supplemental – Loads omitted from the original EDI.

Replacement Filing

A Replacement will effectively replace the Original EDI file that was submitted, using Sequence 0 to generate the return.

  1. File the tax session(s).
    • Marking the tax session as 'filed' (or all sessions in the case of Terminal Operator) will automatically mark the EDI as 'submitted'.
  2. Process the 151 Acknowledgment file.
    • Choose Create replacement in original session, flagging records in error.
  3. Unfile the Original session, Sequence 0.  
    • If filing for more than one terminal, unfile all of the sessions.
  4. Identify the records in error by using the Correction Type field, which will contain
    99999-Must Fix Errors.
  5. Modify the records that are in error.
    • As you modify the records in error, set the Correction Type to be blank.
  6. Generate the tax return(s).
  7. Go to eFile Creation.
  8. For eFiling Option, select Original – Replacement.
    • For a Replacement, as with an Original, only the unfiled tax sessions are available for selection to include in the eFile.  If your original eFile contained multiple TOR sessions, all of them must be unfiled for inclusion.

Corrections Filing

A Corrected file changes only the records in error on the Original file submitted.

  1. Process the 151 Acknowledgment file.
    • Select either Create correction amendment with must fix errors only or Create correction amendment with both must fix and warning errors.
      • The IRS does not require warnings to be included on a corrected EDI.
    • Identify the records in error by using the Correction Type field, which will contain 99999-Must Fix Errors.
  2. This step creates an amended tax session and populates it with the records identified on the 151 Acknowledgment.
    • The records are identified on the 151 Acknowledgment using the Sequence ID field.
    • The Sequence ID is assigned by the software when an Original EDI is run.
    • Do not manually change the Sequence ID in either the Original or Corrected session.
  3. Make the corrections to the records in the amended sequence.
    • From the Original Session (sequence 0) click on Reporting > Schedule Query Wizard.
    • Use the Schedule Query Wizard to copy the records into the amended sequence.
      • Click here for documentation on using Query Wizard.
  4. Set the Correction Type on each record as appropriate.
    • 00001 - Record Corrected
    • 00003 - Delete Record, Submitted in Error
  5. Generate the tax return.
  6.  Create the efile, selecting Amendment - Corrected for the eFiling option.

Supplemental Filing

A Supplemental adds records to your filing.  Before submitting a supplement, you may want to consider adding omitted loads in the next period's filing, as late loads.  Check the IRS EDI Guidelines for allowable out-of-period loads.

  1. Process the 151 Acknowledgment.
  2. Manually create an amended sequence, and select the Corrected - Supplemental option.
  3. Add the supplemental records to the amended sequence:
    • Supplemental records do not use a Correction Type.
    • The Sequence ID is added when the eFile is created.

Create a Manual Amendment

Normally you would allow the Acknowledgment process to create an amended sequence. There may be instances where you need to create an amended sequence manually.

  1. Process the 151 Acknowledgment.
  2. Delete the automatically created sequence, if there is one.
  3. Click Create Amendment.
  4. Select Correction or Supplemental from the drop-down menu.
  5. Click Create Amendment.
    • For a Correction:
      • From the Original Session (sequence 0) click on Reporting > Schedule Query Wizard
      • Use the Schedule Query Wizard to copy the records into the amended sequence
        • Click here for documentation on using Query Wizard.
    • For a Supplemental:
      • Manually add or import the records to be reported
  6. Generate the Return and create the eFile.
    • Refer to the IRS Guidelines for file naming standards on correction files.

Terminal Ownership Status Change

  1. Edit the Location record for a terminal acquisition, or set the Obsolete date for a terminal sale.
  2. Use the appropriate inventory record INT02 or INT03 to type your gallons acquired or sold.
  3. For an acquisition, remember to enter your Beginning Inventory in the previous filing period’s Ending Inventory to include it in the EDI file.

ExSTARS Filing Notes

The following are notes gathered from the ExSTARS EDI guide and/or from communication with the ExSTARS Help Desk during Avalara software certification testing.  

In all cases, please confirm independently as Avalara cannot speak for the ExSTARS Help Desk.

  • FEINs that contain all 9s will not be accepted by the IRS. Please review your Buyers, Sellers, Consignors, and Position Holders and change any FEINs that are all 9s.
  • Beginning Inventory must be included on your first certification filing, first production filing and any time a new product is added to a terminal.
  • Supplemental and Corrected transactions cannot be sent in the same file. 
  • Prior period transactions (with a document date within 12 months of the current reporting period) not previously reported may be included in a current report. These prior period transactions are included in the computation of gain or loss for the current period.
  • Replacement files erase the original. If the replacement file has severe errors that cause the file to be rejected, it is as if the original were never filed.
  • Inventories cannot be negative.
  • When your 151 acknowledgment has a significant number of “must fix” errors, review Replacement vs. Correction options.   

Examples of Amendments Needed 

The following are examples to help you choose your response to the Acknowledgment.  

All cases are subject to the specifications and/or discretion of the IRS Helpdesk.

File Rejected:

  • Correct and re-submit the original  
  • The BTI13 segment in the EDI will be 00 (Original).

"Must Fix" errors:

  • Correct the original session data 
    • The BTI14 segment in the EDI will be 6R (Replacement).
  • Copy the errors into an amended sequence and make the corrections 
    • The BTI14 segment in the EDI will be CO (Corrected).

Transactions omitted or late loads:

  • File transactions in an amended sequence 
    • The BTI14 segment in the EDI will be 6S (Supplemental).
  • Include transactions in the next Original EDI within the time limit specified by the IRS

For a detailed explanation of the segment codes, refer to the ExSTARS EDI Guidelines:




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