Tax preparers who are required to pass the new Registered Tax Return Preparer competency exam must complete 15 hours of continuing education this year, and those hours must come from IRS-approved providers. This new continuing education requirement is part of the IRS’s efforts to eliminate problems it has experienced with unqualified preparers.
The 15 hours of continuing education must include 10 hours of federal tax law, three hours of federal tax law updates, and two hours of ethics. Preparers must provide their Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) to continuing education providers so their continuing education can be reported to the IRS.
All preparers with a continuing education requirement can access a list of IRS Approved Providers at www.IRS.gov/taxpros/ce. To date, 163 providers have been approved but this list is updated regularly. Instructions and requirement for individuals and organizations who wish to become an IRS approved continuing education provider or IRS Accrediting Organization is available on the IRS Continuing Education Providers page.
CPAs, tax attorneys, and Enrolled Agents are currently exempt from the competency test requirement and the annual 15-hour continuing education requirement that accompanies it because they already meet separate requirements. Non-signing preparers supervised by CPAs, attorneys, or Enrolled Agents in law, accounting, and recognized firms also are exempt, as are tax return preparers who do not prepare any Form 1040 series returns.