Annual Filing Season Program

All of your questions are answered here!


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1. What is the Annual Filing Season Program?

The new Annual Filing Season Program is a completely voluntary program intended to recognize and encourage unenrolled tax return preparers who aspire to a higher level of professionalism and voluntarily increase their knowledge to improve their filing season competency through continuing education.

2. What are the benefits of participation in the AFSP?

AFSP participants will receive an AFSP Record of Completion, and be included in a public database of return preparers scheduled to launch on the IRS website by January 2015. The Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications will include the name, city, state, zip code, and credentials of all attorneys, CPAs, enrolled agents, enrolled retirement plan agents and enrolled actuaries with a valid PTIN, as well as all AFSP – Record of Completion holders.

3. How do I participate in the AFSP and get the Record of Completion?
  • 1. Complete certain specific continuing education requirements yearly. (More details below)
  • 2. Have and renew a preparer tax identification number (PTIN) yearly.
  • 3. Consent, yearly, to adhere to practice obligations outlined in Subpart B and section 10.51 of Treasury Department Circular No. 230.
4. What are the continuing education requirements?
Take 18 hours of continuing education from IRS-Approved CE Providers, including:
  • 1. a six (6) hour Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course with a knowledge-based comprehension test administered at the end,
  • 2. ten (10) hours of other federal tax law topics; and
  • 3. two (2) hours of ethics.
  • *Note: Some preparers are exempt from requirement #1, the AFTR Course. Who is exempt?
5. Are some people exempt from requirement #1, the AFTR course?
If you meet one of the exemptions below, you take 3 hours of federal tax law updates instead of the AFTR course.
  • 1. Anyone who passed the Registered Tax Return Preparer test administered by the IRS between November 2011 and January 2013.
  • 2. Established state-based return preparer program participants currently with testing requirements: Return preparers who are active members of the Oregon Board of Tax Practitioners and/or the California Tax Education Council.
  • 3. SEE Part I Test-Passers: Tax practitioners who have passed the Special Enrollment Exam Part I within the past two years as of the first day of the upcoming filing season.
  • 4. VITA volunteers: Quality reviewers and instructors with active PTINs.
  • 5. Other accredited tax-focused credential-holders: The Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation’s Accredited Business Accountant/Advisor (ABA) and Accredited Tax Preparer (ATP) programs.
6. I am exempt from the AFTR. What are my continuing education requirements?
The AFTR requirement is replaced by a 3 hour federal tax law update requirement. Filing season 2016 and after. Take 15 hours of continuing education from IRS-Approved CE Providers, including:
  • 1. three (3) hours of federal tax law updates,
  • 2. ten (10) hours of other federal tax law topics; and
  • 3. two (2) hours of ethics.
7. Where do I get this continuing education?

You may take the AFTR course and obtain other continuing education from any IRS-Approved CE Provider.

8. How much does the AFSP cost?

The cost of your yearly PTIN renewal, plus the cost of continuing education purchased from IRS-Approved CE Providers.

9. Can credentialed tax preparers participate in the AFSP?

The IRS didn't design this program with credentialed tax professionals in mind. However, if an attorney, certified professional accountant, enrolled agent, enrolled retirement plan agent, or enrolled actuary seeks to participate in the program, they would be required to meet the same CE requirements as preparers in the exempt category.

10. How/when do I get my record of completion?

After PTIN renewal season begins in October 2014, a Record of Completion will be generated to you once all requirements have been met, including renewal of your PTIN for 2015 and consent to the Circular 230 obligations. If you have an online PTIN account, you will receive an email from TaxPro_PTIN@irs.gov with instructions on how to sign the Circular 230 consent and receive your Record of Completion in your online secure mailbox. If you don’t have an online PTIN account, you will receive a letter with instructions for completing the application process and obtaining your record of completion.

11. How does the IRS know if I completed the AFSP requirements?

All IRS-Approved CE Providers must report completed continuing education hours to the IRS Return Preparers Office. You can view that information in your online PTIN account. Be sure to give IRS-Approved CE Providers your proper PTIN so they can report your CE accurately and in a timely fashion.


JoAnna, RTRP, CRTP - San Mateo CA.
I took the IRS RTRP exam on August 1, 2012 and passed on the first try!
Many thanks to the study materials and method from Phoenix. They are well designed, sophisticated, and extremely helpful, especially the self-test and the 10 CE hours.

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