Tag Archives: AFSP

7 things Unenrolled Return Preparers should know.


1. Beginning January 1, 2016,  new rules  will limit unenrolled return preparers  representing clients before the IRS to only those preparers who have  an Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP)  record of completion from the IRS.

2. If you are a tax  preparer, with an active PTIN, but no professional credentials and you do not participate in the AFSP, you are authorized to prepare tax returns but not represent clients .

3. Returns prepared and signed after December 31, 2015, you will not be allowed to represent clients before the IRS (even if you are the preparer of a return).

4. Limited representation rights  will allow  unenrolled return preparers with AFSP record of completion to represent clients whose returns they  actually prepared before the IRS.

5. They cannot represent clients whose returns they did not prepare and they cannot represent clients regarding appeals or collection issues even if they did prepare the return in question.

6. IRS defines an unrolled return preparer  is an individual other than an attorney, CPA, enrolled agent, enrolled retirement plan agent, or enrolled actuary who prepares and signs a taxpayer’s return as the paid preparer, or who prepares a return but is not required  to sign the return.

7. To participate in the Annual Filing Season Program a tax preparer needs to take 18 hours of continuing education from an IRS approved CE provider by December 31st each year.

This includes:

  • A six hour Annual Federal Refresher course (AFTR course)
  • 10 hours of Federal Tax Law and
  • Two hours of ethics.

Certain tax preparers are exempt from the AFTR course:

  • Anyone who passed the Registered Tax Return Preparer test between November 2011 and January 2013.
  • Return preparers who are active registrants of:
    • Oregon Board of Tax Practitioners.
    • California Tax Education Council (CTEC).
    • Maryland State Board of Individual Tax Preparers.
    • Tax preparers who passed the Special Enrollment Exam part 1 within the past two years.
    • VITA/TCE volunteers
    • Other accredited tax focused credential-holders
      • Accreditation Council for Accountancy
      • Taxation’s Accredited Business Accountant/Advisor (ABA)
      • Accredited Tax Preparer Programs

PTIN holders who meet one of these exemptions will need to complete annually:

  • 3 hours of federal tax law updates
  • 10 hours of  federal tax law
  • 2 hours Ethics