The IRS has introduced the voluntary Annual Filing Season Program.
The program is directed at preparers who are not licensed as attorneys, CPAs or enrolled agents. These preparers would generally need to complete a 6-hour Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course and obtain a score of 70% or higher on the associated 100-question comprehension test as well as meet additional CPE requirements (see CPE tab).
Anyone who passed the Registered Tax Return Preparer (RTRP) exam is exempt from this testing. See all of the exceptions on the AFTR tab.
Once a tax preparer has met all requirements for the voluntary program, a certificate will be available in the PTIN holder's online IRS account for printing. The requirements are:
- Valid PTIN for the upcoming filing season;
- The appropriate number of continuing education credits;
- Completion of the AFTR course with 70% or higher score on the comprehension test (if required); and
- Consent to the Circular 230 obligations.
Any unenrolled preparers not already bound by Circular 230 will need to sign an agreement to follow subpart B and §10.51 before being able to print the AFSP – Record of Completion. There will be no additional cost to the preparer to print the Completion certificate.
In February 2015, the IRS launched a public listing on its website 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. This will be a searchable, sortable
Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers so that taxpayers can find a preparer that carries their preferred credentials or qualification(s).
Additional details on this program can be found in this great
TAXPRO Journal article.