Completion Counts Toward IRS's Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) Requirement
Drake Software, an IRS-approved CE provider, will begin offering its 2017 AFTR course this week, providing tax preparers seeking the AFSP Record of Completion with an opportunity to complete part of the 18-hour continuing education requirement. Drake’s affordable, self-paced course has been very popular the past two years, and is offered to all tax preparers, not just Drake Software clients. Past students have described the course as “comprehensive… and well-structured,” noting that its presentation “[facilitates] an efficient learning experience.”
While not a credential per se, the AFSP provides return preparers with a marketable designation and proof of their commitment to continuing education in the field of income tax. On a limited basis, Record of Completion holders can represent clients before IRS revenue agents and customer service representatives. Non-credentialed preparers who have not completed the AFSP may only prepare tax returns. Preparers who earn their Record of Completion will also be listed in a public directory of tax return preparers on IRS.gov.
According to the IRS, those meeting the following criteria can obtain the AFSP Record of Completion without taking the AFTR course:
- Anyone who passed the Registered Tax Return Preparer test administered by the IRS between November 2011 and January 2013.
- Established state-based return preparer program participants currently with testing requirements: Return preparers who are active registrants of the Oregon Board of Tax Practitioners, California Tax Education Council, and/or Maryland State Board of Individual Tax Preparers.
- SEE Part I Test-Passers: Tax practitioners who have passed the Special Enrollment Exam Part I within the past two years.
- VITA/TCE volunteers: Quality reviewers, instructors, and return preparers with active PTINs.
- 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.
While earning an AFSP Record of Completion grants limited representation rights to non-credentialed tax return preparers, the IRS reminds readers that “attorneys, CPAs, and enrolled agents (EAs) will continue to be the only tax professionals with unlimited representation rights, meaning they can represent their clients on any matters including audits, payment/collection issues, and appeals.”
To receive an AFSP Record of Completion in time for next tax season, you must complete all requirements by December 31, 2016.
Drake’s AFTR Course is only $59 and includes the self-paced course, study guides, and comprehension test. To learn more and register, click here.