Updated September 24, 2021
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.
The IRS Annual Filing Season Program is designed to encourage unenrolled preparers to voluntarily increase their tax knowledge by taking tax related continuing education (CE) courses each year. Tax preparers who choose to participate can receive a Record of Completion from the IRS. To do this, the preparer must complete the required number of continuing education hours, have an active PTIN, and consent to adhere to specific obligations under Circular 230.
All continuing education courses must be taken from an IRS approved CE provider and completed by the end of each calendar year.
There are different requirements depending on whether or not an unenrolled tax return preparer is considered an exempt or non-exempt preparer.
Unless an unenrolled tax return preparer meets one of the requirements to be exempt, they are considered non-exempt. If they are non-exempt, they must meet the following requirements each year:
Tax preparers who have completed one or more of the following are considered exempt:
If the preparer meets one of the above requirements they are considered to be an exempt preparer and must meet the following requirements each year:
Some of the benefits for a tax preparer who receives a Record of Completion are:
It is important to note that beginning with the 2016 Filing Season, any unenrolled preparer who does not have a Record of Completion will not have any representation rights. This means that they will only be allowed to prepare and sign returns.
For more information on the IRS Annual Filing Season Program and Circular 230 see the following:
The preparer will use this number (in place of their SSN) as their identification number on all federal income tax returns that they prepare for compensation.
A PTIN is good January – December of each year. It must be renewed each year.
PTIN stands for Preparer Identification Number
Any individual who prepares or assists in preparing federal tax returns for compensation must have a valid PTIN before preparing returns.
The fee to renew or obtain a new PTIN is $35.95 per year.
Most first-time applicants can obtain a PTIN online in about 15 minutes.
If an individual prefers, they can file Form W-12 (IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) Application on paper and send it to the IRS along with a payment of $35.95. It will take 4 – 6 weeks to receive their PTIN by mail.
The IRS usually opens up for registering for a new or renewal of an existing PTIN for the upcoming calendar in late October.
An individual may register for each calendar beginning in October of the year before through September of calendar year you are registering for.
Yes, applicants must be at least 18 years of age.
Here is what you need to know about renewing a PTIN.
Here is what you need to know about obtaining a new PTIN.
Yes, any individual who prepares or assists in preparing federal tax returns for compensation must have a valid PTIN before preparing returns.
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 screen My PTIN Information. It also shows your PTIN status on this screen as well.
Forgetting to renew your PTIN could result in the imposition of IRS Code Section 6695 penalties, injunctions, and/or disciplinary action by the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility.
When applying for a PTIN each individual must answer a question about whether they have been convicted of any felony in the past 10 years. If the answer is Yes then they must provide an explanation and the IRS will determine on a case-by-case basis whether their felony conviction disqualifies them from obtaining a PTIN.
Any felony related to tax fraud and other forms of financial crimes are typically not eligible for a PTIN. Also, any offenses that include deception or that demonstrate a refusal to recognize lawful authorities will also typically prevent an individual from obtaining a PTIN.
Individuals must be current in both their individual and business federal taxes, which includes any corporate or employment tax obligations.
Individuals will also be ineligible to apply for a PTIN if they have been disbarred, suspended or disqualified from practice before the IRS.
The PTIN number itself is not public information. However, a PTIN holders contact information is publicly available via the PTIN holder listing that can be accessed on the PTIN Information and Freedom of Information Act page on the IRS website.
PTIN holders are not allowed to opt out of the disclosure of their contact information because Freedom of Information laws make the information public.
You do need to pass a test or take continuing education courses to obtain a PTIN.
The IRS encourages anyone with a PTIN to take continuing education.
Preparers also have the option to complete the IRS Annual Filing Season Program and be issued a Record of Completion from the IRS. For more details see IRS Voluntary Continuing Education Program information on this page.
A PTIN is the number issued by the IRS to paid tax return preparers. It is used as the tax preparer’s identification number on any tax return that they prepared for compensation. The PTIN is required for all individuals who prepare or assists in preparing federal tax returns for compensation.
An Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN) is a number issued by IRS to individuals or firms that have been approved as authorized e-file providers. The EFIN is necessary to file federal returns electronically.
For more details see the following on the IRS website: