A Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) is a number issued by the IRS to all paid tax return preparers. It is used as the tax return preparer’s identification number and, when applicable, must be placed in the Paid Preparer section of a tax return that the tax return preparer prepared for compensation. This includes EAs, CPAs and attorneys.

If you obtained a PTIN years ago prior to this new requirement, you must refresh or renew your PTIN online or by filing Form W-12 and pay a $64.25 fee. All paid preparers must renew their PTIN annually. The renewal period begins each October. Your PTIN is valid until December 31 of the following year. You must pay $63.00 each year to renew your PTIN.

If you do not have a valid PTIN, you cannot prepare returns for compensation. Failure to acquire a PTIN could result in the imposition of penalties, injunction and/or disciplinary action by the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility.

The IRS has been issuing provisional PTINs to individuals who are not attorneys, CPAs, EAs or RTRPs to enable them to prepare tax returns prior to meeting competency testing and suitability requirements. At this time, the IRS plans to continue issuing provisional PTINs  and will determine the future of them by December 31, 2013. Once the IRS stops issuing provisional PTINs, tax return preparers who are required to complete the competency test or suitability requirements must complete these requirements successfully prior to obtaining a PTIN. All preparers who have a provisional PTIN prior to the start of testing will have until December 31, 2013, to pass the competency exam.

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