IRS Voluntary Continuing Education Program and PTIN Requirement for Federal Tax Preparers - CrossLink (2023)

IRS Voluntary Continuing Education Program and PTIN Requirement for Federal Tax Preparers

(Video) IRS Tax Tip - Here’s how people can become an IRS-certified volunteer


IRS Voluntary Continuing Education Program and PTIN Requirement for Federal Tax Preparers

(Video) Tax Preparer Ethics Understanding Circular 230
  • By Mark Castro, Chartered Accountant

This page is designed to help you understand PTINs and the IRS requirement to have one and renew it each year, as well as the IRS Voluntary Education Program.

IRS Voluntary Continuing Education Program and PTIN Requirement for Federal Tax Preparers - CrossLink (1)

PTIN Regulations

The IRS Annual Filing Season Program is designed to encourage non-matriculated preparers to voluntarily expand their tax knowledge by taking tax-related continuing education (CE) courses each year. Tax preparers who choose to attend may receive a transcript of completion from the IRS. To do so, the preparer must complete the required number of hours of continuing education, have an active PTIN, and agree to comply with certain Circular 230 obligations.

Continuing education requirements for PTIN

All continuing education courses must be completed at oneIRS Approved CE Providerand be completed by the end of each calendar year.

There are different requirements depending on whether or not a non-registered tax preparer qualifies as an exempt or non-exempt preparer.

Requirements for the preparer of non-exempt tax returns

Unless an unregistered tax preparer meets one of the requirements for an exemption, they are considered non-exempt. If they are not exempt, they must meet the following requirements each year:

PTIN Training Requirements - Preparers of Non-Exempt Tax Returns

  • Complete a total of 18 hours of continuing education, which must include:
    • A six (6) hour annual Federal Tax Refresher course covering filing season issues and tax law updates. This course must include taking and passing a knowledge-based comprehension test administered by the CE provider at the end of the course.
    • Seven (7) hours of additional federal tax law topics
    • Two (2) hours of ethics
  • Renew (or get) your PTIN.
  • Agreeing to comply with specific practice obligations described inCircular 230, Section 10.51

Tax preparers who have met one or more of the following are considered exempt:

  • Registered tax return preparer test passed (November 2011 – January 2013)
  • Are an established participant in a federal (Oregon, California and/or Maryland) return preparation program
  • Passed the Part I special enrollment test within the last two years
  • VITA Volunteers: Quality reviewers, trainers and returnees with active PTINs
  • Possess an accredited tax-related credential from the Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation's Accredited Business Accountant/Advisor and Accredited Tax Preparer Programs

Exempted requirements for the preparer of tax returns

If the creator meets any of the above requirements, they are considered an exempt creator and must meet the following requirements each year:

PTIN Training Requirements – Exempt tax return preparers

  • Complete a total of fifteen (15) hours of continuing education, which must include:
    • Three (3) hours of federal tax law updates
    • Ten (10) hours of other federal tax law topics
    • Two (2) hours of ethics
  • Renew (or get) your PTIN.
  • Agreeing to comply with specific practice obligations described inCircular 230, Section 10.51

Some of the benefits to being a tax preparer receiving proof of completion are:

  • Inclusion in the public database of returnees on the IRS website
  • Limited Representation Rights (This means they can represent clients whose declarations they have signed before tax officials, customer service agents, and similar IRS officials.)

It is important to note that starting with the 2016 registration season, any unregistered creator who does not have proof of graduation has no proxy rights. This means that they are only allowed to draw up and sign declarations.

(Video) Choose a Tax Preparer Wisely

For more information on the IRS Annual Filing Season Program and Circular 230, see the following:

PTIN - What it is and IRS requirements to have one to prepare federal income tax returns

IRS Voluntary Continuing Education Program and PTIN Requirement for Federal Tax Preparers - CrossLink (2)


  • What is a PTIN? It is an eight-digit number preceded by the letter P that is assigned by the IRS to filers of paid tax returns
  • Example PTIN Number – An example PTIN number is P01234567. The preparer uses this number (instead of their social security number) as their identification number on all federal income tax returns they prepare for compensation. A PTIN is valid from January to December of each year. It must be renewed every year.
  • What does PTIN stand for?PTIN stands for Preparer Identification Number
  • Who must have a PTIN?Any person preparing or assisting in the preparation of federal tax returns for compensation must have a valid PTIN prior to preparing returns.
  • PTIN Renewal Fee- The fee for renewing or obtaining a new PTIN is $30.75 per year.
  • How long does it take to get a PTIN?Most first-time applicants can obtain a PTIN online in about 15 minutes. If an individual prefers, they can file a paper Form W-12 (IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) Application) and mail it to the IRS along with a payment of $30.75. It takes 4 to 6 weeks for her to receive her PTIN in the mail.
  • When can you renew or receive a new PTIN each year?The IRS typically opens in late October for registration for a new or renewal of an existing PTIN for the upcoming calendar. An individual may register for any calendar year beginning October of the previous year through September of the calendar year for which you register.
  • Is there an age requirement for obtaining a PTIN?Yes, applicants must be at least 18 years old to receive a PTIN.

PTIN renewal

Here's what you need to know about renewing a PTIN.

IRS Voluntary Continuing Education Program and PTIN Requirement for Federal Tax Preparers - CrossLink (3)

Steps to renew my PTIN

  • Go toIRS Tax Professional PTIN-SystemPage on the IRS website
  • Log in to your account by entering your user ID and password
  • Complete the online renewal application.
  • Review your personal information and answer any applicable questions
  • Pay the usage fee of $30.75
  • Get your PTIN online

Items you need to renew your PTIN

  • Credit/debit/ATM card for PTIN user fee of $30.75
  • Any US-based professional certification information (enrolled agent, CPA, attorney, etc.), if applicable, including certification number, issuing jurisdiction, and expiration date.
  • Business information (name and mailing address)
  • Personal data (name and postal address)

PTIN application

Here's what you need to know about getting a new PTIN.

How to get a new PTIN

  • Go toIRS Tax Professional PTIN-SystemPage on the IRS website
  • Click New User
  • Follow the instructions to set up your account
  • Fill out the online application
  • Pay the usage fee of $30.75
  • Get your PTIN online

PTIN Application Checklist

  • social security number
  • Personal data (name, postal address, date of birth, email address)
  • Previous year's income tax return (name, address and filing status used when filing the return)
  • Credit/debit/ATM card for PTIN user fee of $30.75
  • Any US-based professional certification information (enrolled agent, CPA, attorney, etc.), if applicable, including certification number, issuing jurisdiction, and expiration date


  • Do I need a PTIN to prepare taxes?Yes, anyone preparing or assisting in the preparation of federal tax returns for compensation must have a valid PTIN prior to preparing returns.
  • How do I find my PTIN number?It is available in your account accessed through the IRS Tax Professional PTIN system. Once you have logged in, you can see your PTIN on the first My PTIN Information screen. Your PTIN status is also displayed on this screen.
  • What happens if you forget to renew your PTIN?If you fail to renew your PTIN, penalties, injunctions and/or disciplinary action may be imposed under IRS Code Section 6695 by the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility.
  • What Types of Crimes Would Affect Your Ability to Obtain a Maker Tax Identification Number?When applying for a PTIN, each person must answer a question as to whether they have been convicted of a criminal offense in the past 10 years. If the answer is yes, they must provide a statement, and the IRS will determine on a case-by-case basis whether their felony conviction precludes them from receiving a PTIN. Any offense related to tax fraud and other forms of financial crime is generally not eligible for a PTIN. Also, any crime that involves deception or a refusal to recognize lawful authorities will typically prevent an individual from obtaining a PTIN.
  • What prevents a person from getting a PTIN?Individuals must have both their individual and business federal tax records current, which includes any corporate or employment tax obligations. Individuals are also not eligible to apply for a PTIN if they have been barred, suspended, or disqualified from practicing their profession before the IRS.
  • Is a PTIN public information?The PTIN number itself is not public information. However, a PTIN holder's contact information is publicly available through the PTIN Holder List, which can be accessed atPTIN Information and Freedom of Information ActPage on the IRS website. PTIN holders may not opt-out of disclosure of their contact information, as freedom of information laws make the information public.
  • Are there any exam or continuing education requirements to obtain or renew a PTIN?You must pass a test or take continuing education courses to earn a PTIN. The IRS encourages anyone with a PTIN to continue their education. Creators also have the option to complete the IRS Annual Filing Season Program and receive a certificate of completion from the IRS. See the IRS Voluntary Education Program information on this page for more details.
  • EFIN vs. PTIN– A PTIN is the number assigned by the IRS to preparers of paid tax returns. It is used as the tax preparer's identification number on every tax return that he prepares for an indemnity. The PTIN is required for anyone preparing or assisting in the preparation of federal tax returns for compensation payments. An Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN) is a number assigned by the IRS to individuals or companies who have been approved as authorized e-file providers. The EFIN is required to submit federal declarations electronically.

Additional PTIN Resources

For more information, visit the IRS website at:

CrossLink Professional Control Software

IRS Voluntary Continuing Education Program and PTIN Requirement for Federal Tax Preparers - CrossLink (4)

CrossLink is the industry-leading professional tax software solution for high-volume tax firms. Developed based on the needs of busy tax offices and mobile accountants who specialize in delivering fast and accurate tax returns to their taxpayers, CrossLink has been a trusted software solution since 1989. CrossLink's detailed tax calculations, advanced technological features and paperless solutions enable you to create the most complicated tax returns safely and easily and offer your clients an unparalleled experience.

Learn more


Get it for FREE
Free readiness checklists

Are you prepared for tax season? From software and banking setup to training and marketing tasks, make sure your tax business is ready by downloading your February readiness checklist today!

PLUS get our “What to Bring to Your Appointment” checklist for your clients!

Download now

(Video) How to Use the Tax Return Preparer Directory
(Video) How to Find a Tax Return Preparer


What are the IRS rules for continuing education? ›

Enrolled agents must obtain 72 hours of continuing education every three years. A minimum of 16 hours must be earned per year, two of which must be on ethics. Enrolled agents must use an IRS approved CE provider.

How many CPE credits do I need for PTIN? ›

PTIN Education Requirements – Exempt Tax Return Preparers

Complete a total of fifteen (15) hours of continuing education which must include: Three (3) hours of federal tax law updates. Ten (10) hours of other federal tax law topics. Two (2) hours of ethics.

Who is required to obtain a PTIN? ›

The PTIN regulations require all tax return preparers who are compensated for preparing, or assisting in the preparation of, all or substantially all of a tax return or claim for refund of tax to register and obtain a PTIN.

How many questions is the Afsp test? ›

o The test parameters will be used to determine if requirements for the 100 question, continuous 3 hour test are being met.

Does the IRS pay for continuing education? ›

IRS sponsors a variety of continuing education programs for tax professionals. Note: The availability of continuing education credit varies by program. Be sure to read the program descriptions carefully to determine if you will receive CE credit.

How many hours of continuing education must be completed within every two year cycle? ›

Active Status License Renewal

A total 80 hours of CE must be completed in the two-year period immediately preceding license expiration, including: A minimum of 20 hours completed during each year of the two-year license renewal period, including 12 hours in technical subject matter.

How many CPE credits is 75 minutes? ›

In most jurisdictions a 75-minute course qualifies for only one hour of CPE. Other jurisdictions allow 1 Qs hours for each 75-minute course, so that two 75-minute courses would count as three hours of CPE.

What happens if you don't meet CPE requirements? ›

Any individual who fails to complete the required CPE by the end of their CPE reporting period can request an extension prior to their expiration date. An individual is only allowed one CPE extension in any two consecutive CPE reporting periods (six-year period).

What happens if minimum CPE hours are not completed? ›

It is a myth that if one does not complete CPE, the Certificate of Practice will not be renewed. Over the years, ICAI has come up with various mandatory courses for the students like Information Technology Training I and II, Orientation Training , GMCS-1 and 2.

Why do we need PTIN? ›

A preparer tax identification number (PTIN) is an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) identifier implemented in 1999 that has required all paid federal tax return preparers to register with the federal government and obtain a unique number since 2010.

How long is a PTIN good for? ›

All PTINs expire on December 31 of each year. PTIN renewal open season begins mid-October each year for the following year. You can renew online by logging into your PTIN account or by submitting a paper Form W-12 with the “Renewal” box checked.

Who among the following individuals does not need to have a PTIN? ›

Attorneys, certified public accountants and enrolled agents do not need to obtain a PTIN unless they prepare for compensation all or substantially all of a federal tax return or claim for refund.

Is the AFTR test hard? ›

However the test is notoriously difficult due to the wide breadth of topics it covers. If you fail the test, you can retake it an unlimited number of times. Just keep in mind that the test questions change at every third attempt and you need a minimum of 70% to pass the test.

How many times can you take the AFTR test? ›

The AFTR test must be completed in 3 hours or less and must be completed in one sitting. The test may be taken more than once to obtain a passing score; however, no two exams are the same.

How many times can I take the AFTR exam? ›

The test has a 3 hour time limit. What if I take the AFTR exam but do not pass? A participant may attempt an identical test two times, as long as no feedback is provided between attempts.

How many years can you get education credit on taxes? ›

It can help eligible students pay for undergraduate, graduate and professional degree courses and courses taken to get or improve job skills. There is no limit on the number of years you can claim the credit. The credit is worth up to $2,000 per tax return.

How long does it take a tax preparer to do your taxes? ›

It takes an average American taxpayer 11-13 hours to prepare their taxes according to the IRS. Record keeping, tax planning, form submissions and other related activities are considered when calculating this time. Of course, it can take much longer depending on the complexity of your return.

What qualifies you for education tax credit? ›

Be you, your spouse or your dependent that you listed on your tax return. Be pursuing a degree or other recognized education credential. Have qualified education expenses at an eligible educational institution. Be enrolled at least half time for at least one academic period* beginning in the tax year.

What is the minimum number of continuing education hours must producers complete every 2 years? ›

California requires 24 hours of continuing education including 3 hours of ethics every two-year license term, regardless of how long you have been a licensed producer.

How many hours of continuing education instruction are producers required to complete every 2 years? ›

Complete a minimum of 24 continuing education (CE) credit hours for the license type during each two-year license term.

Can I take the same CPE course twice? ›

Can I retake the same courses every year and receive continuing education credit? Yes, you can retake the same courses every year.

How many hours is 150 credits? ›

150 credit hours is equivalent to 5 years of higher education. It can be accumulated in different ways: 4 years of bachelor + 1 year of master's degree, typically in accounting. 4 years of bachelor with accelerated program covering 150 credit hours.

Does 1 hour equal 1 CEU? ›

A: One CEU equals ten contact hours of participation in organized continuing education classes and/or training conducted by a qualified instructor. A contact hour is equivalent to one 60-minute interaction between an instructor and the participant.

How many credits is 180 hours? ›

The total of in-class hours and out-of-class work for a 4-credit course should be approximately 180 hours. Bachelor's degrees are defined as involving a minimum of 120 credits, and master's degrees a minimum of 30 credits.

Can you fail CPE? ›

If you fail, you will be alerted that you must re-submit the exam. You will not be shown CORRECT vs INCORRECT answers until you pass the exam. You are allowed to take the exam up to three times to achieve a passing score. After that you will need to contact Customer Service to resolve.

How many CPE credit hours are required? ›

General CPE Requirements

The AICPA requires CPAs to complete 120 hours of CPE every 3 years to maintain their license, however, each State Board of Accountancy can set its own additional requirements or stipulations.

Can you retake CPE exam? ›

Absolutely. If you do not successfully meet the minimum score, you can retake the exam as many times as you want.

How do I increase my CPE hours? ›

8 Best ways to earn CPE credits
  1. Conferences. ...
  2. Webcasts. ...
  3. Publications. ...
  4. Bundles. ...
  5. Certification Exam. ...
  6. Self-study Courses. ...
  7. College Course. ...
  8. Other resources.

How do I complete my CPE hours online? ›

As you may aware that at present, 4 Structured CPE hours out of 20 mandatory Structured CPE hours is allowed to be completed either through Digital Learning Hub/VCMs or attending the physical cum virtual CPE event in online mode for Calendar year 2022.

How do I check my CPE hours? ›

Checking the Status of CPE Hours at CPE Portal

ICAI has made arrangements for Members to check the updated status of CPE hour credits (structured or unstructured) online at the CPE Portal, i.e.,

How much does an IRS PTIN cost? ›

Most first-time PTIN applicants can obtain a PTIN online in about 15 minutes. The fee is $30.75 and is non-refundable.

Can I prepare taxes with only a PTIN? ›

A PTIN is only required for professional tax preparers that accept payment to prepare tax returns. Individual taxpayers, including TurboTax customers, do not need a PTIN to file their own taxes.

Do you need an SSN for a PTIN? ›

Generally, the IRS requires an individual to provide an SSN to get a PTIN. Because foreign persons generally cannot get an SSN, they must file Form 8946 to establish their identity and status as a foreign person.

What is the penalty for not having a PTIN? ›

Failure to furnish identifying number – IRC § 6695(c): Penalty is $50 for each failure of a tax preparer to include a preparer tax identifying number (PTIN) on a tax return or claim (maximum penalty cannot be greater than $27,000 in calendar year 2022).

When did IRS start charging for PTIN? ›

Effective July 15, 2020 the IRS began charging a fee of $35.95 to obtain or renew a Preparer Tax ID Numbers (PTIN). This fee consists of: $21.00 renewal fee. $14.95 fee payable to a contractor (covers processing applications, renewals and operating a call center)

Do PTIN numbers change every year? ›

A Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) is a unique number issued by the IRS. As a paid preparer, you are required to have a PTIN, and it must be renewed every year prior to the start of the tax season.

Can I prepare tax returns without a CPA? ›

Do you need a license to prepare tax returns? While the starting point for any preparer will be the PTIN process, a “license” is not the same thing. To become a preparer, you don't need a specific license. With the IRS, however, if you want representation rights, you need to be an enrolled agent, CPA, or attorney.

What is the difference between PTIN and EFIN? ›

An EFIN is a standard number issued to all those who are authorized and are approved IRS e-filing providers. One the other hand, as explained previously, a PTIN is a unique identification number for a single tax preparer. Finally, while PTINs have a registration and renewal cost attached to them, EFINs are free.

Can someone use my PTIN? ›

What is tax-related data theft? Tax related identity theft occurs when someone uses your client's stolen Social Security number to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. Identity thieves may also use a stolen PTIN from your business to file fraudulent returns.

How many tax returns can one person prepare in a season? ›

The IRS limits the number of returns that can be completed and e-filed per individual to five (5) individual returns. This is so tax preparers are held responsible for the returns they have prepared.

Who is exempt from taking the aftr exam? ›

Who is exempt from taking the AFTR course? Some unenrolled preparers are exempt from the AFTR course requirement because of their completion of other recognized state or national competency tests.

Who of the following would qualify as a qualifying child assuming all other tests are met? ›

Son, daughter, stepchild, adopted child or foster child.

What does AFSP stand for? ›

Annual Filing Season Program participants do not have unlimited practice rights (unless they are also an attorney, certified public accountant, or enrolled agent).

What must the preparer do in order to participate in the afsp for a given year? ›

Credentialed or Exempted Tax Preparers must complete 15 hours of CE annually from an IRS Approved Provider to qualify the AFSP. The 15 hours of CE includes the following: 3 hours of Federal tax updates. 10 hours of Federal tax law topics.

What is considered as incompetence and disreputable conduct? ›

(13) Giving a false opinion, knowingly, recklessly, or through gross incompetence, including an opinion which is intentionally or recklessly misleading, or engaging in a pattern of providing incompetent opinions on questions arising under the Federal tax laws.

Are continuing education expenses tax deductible in 2022? ›

For your 2022 taxes, the American Opportunity Tax Credit: Can be claimed in amounts up to $2,500 per student, calculated as 100% of the first $2,000 in college costs and 25% of the next $2,000. May be used toward required course materials (books, supplies and equipment) as well as tuition and fees.

What continuing education is tax deductible? ›

To be deductible, your expenses must be for education that (1) maintains or improves skills needed in your present work or (2) your employer or the law requires to keep your present salary, status or job.

What does the IRS consider a qualified education expense? ›

Qualified education expenses

Tuition and fees. Room and board. Books, supplies and equipment. Other necessary expenses (such as transportation).

How many years can you claim education credit on taxes? ›

There is no limit on the number of years you can claim the credit. It is worth up to $2,000 per tax return.

Can I claim my laptop as a tax deduction for school? ›

The cost of a personal computer is generally a personal expense that's not deductible. However, you may be able to claim an American opportunity tax credit for the amount paid to buy a computer if you need a computer to attend your university.

How do I claim my education tax credit? ›

To claim either tax credit, filers must submit Form 8863, “Education Credits” with their tax return. Students usually receive a Form 1098-T, “Tuition Statement” from their institution by January 31st of the following year.

How do I calculate my education tax credit? ›

You calculate the lifetime learning credit by taking 20% of the first $10,000 of the qualified educational expenses you paid during the taxable year for all individuals. For a taxpayer with high modified adjusted gross income, a phaseout may apply.

Can I write off certification costs? ›

Some industries — like real estate — require licenses or certifications to be periodically renewed. All those fees are tax-deductible.

Who can claim education tax deductions? ›

To qualify, you must need to be under the education credit income limits. That means having a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of less than $90,000 (single filers) or $180,000 (joint filers), although the credit amount is gradually reduced starting at $80,000 (single filers) or $160,000 (joint filers).

What are examples of qualified education expenses? ›

Qualified expenses are amounts paid for tuition, fees and other related expense for an eligible student that are required for enrollment or attendance at an eligible educational institution. You must pay the expenses for an academic period* that starts during the tax year or the first three months of the next tax year.

Which of the following is not a qualified education expense? ›

These expenses are not considered qualified education expenses for either credit: Tutoring. Housing, room and board. Insurance, including student health fees.

What are the educational tax credits for 2022? ›

The credit is awarded for 100% of the first $2,000 of qualified educational expenses and 25% of the next $2,000 of educational expenses. Therefore, if a student pays at least $4,000 in educational expenses, he will receive the full $2,500.

Why am I not eligible for the education tax credit? ›

Who cannot claim an education credit? You cannot claim an education credit when: Someone else, such as your parents, list you as a dependent on their tax return. Your filing status is married filing separately.

Can you claim a 26 year old college student on your taxes? ›

To meet the qualifying child test, your child must be younger than you and either younger than 19 years old or be a "student" younger than 24 years old as of the end of the calendar year. There's no age limit if your child is "permanently and totally disabled" or meets the qualifying relative test.

Why am I not getting the full American Opportunity credit? ›

You must be enrolled at least half-time for at least one academic period that began in the tax year. You must be in your first four years of higher education, which means you can't claim the credit if you are in your fifth, sixth, etc. year of college.


1. Watch: IRS warns taxpayers about dangers of unscrupulous tax preparers
(Click On Detroit | Local 4 | WDIV)
2. Free tax course at IRS.GOV
(Premium Coaching For New Tax Pros)
3. Why you shouldn't become a tax preparer
4. Everything you needed to know about the IRS Enrolled Agent Exam - March 2022 Edition
5. Top 15 Tax Software Tools For Tax Preparers 2023 | Pro Tax Software for 2022 Returns 🔶 TAXES S2•E9
(The Awesome S'witty Kiwi Show)
(Drake Software)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Msgr. Refugio Daniel

Last Updated: 05/07/2023

Views: 5716

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (54 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Msgr. Refugio Daniel

Birthday: 1999-09-15

Address: 8416 Beatty Center, Derekfort, VA 72092-0500

Phone: +6838967160603

Job: Mining Executive

Hobby: Woodworking, Knitting, Fishing, Coffee roasting, Kayaking, Horseback riding, Kite flying

Introduction: My name is Msgr. Refugio Daniel, I am a fine, precious, encouraging, calm, glamorous, vivacious, friendly person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.