It’s that time again: time for federal tax return preparers to renew their Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTINs) for the coming year. It’s no time to procrastinate, since 2021 PTINs will expire on Dec. 31.
A valid PTIN is required for anyone who prepares—or assists in preparing—a federal tax return for a fee. This requirement includes Enrolled Agents, whether or not EAs actually prepare returns.
A PTIN must be valid before the tax pro prepares any returns for the year, and should show up on filed returns as part of the identifying number.
"Taxpayers are relying on your expertise to help them meet their tax obligations and for some to complete their largest financial transaction for the year. Make sure you're ready by renewing your PTIN now," said Carol A. Campbell, director, Return Preparer Office.
The cost for a 2022 PTIN is $35.95, which is non-refundable. Whether the tax professional is renewing a PTIN or applying for the first time, the entire amount must be paid before the PTIN process will complete.
It’s faster online
In the case of renewing a PTIN, the Internal Revenue Service recommends using its online renewal process. It takes about 15 minutes to complete.
Renewing online is easy, and you get confirmation after completion:
- Start at gov/taxpros.
- Select the "Renew or Register" button.
- Enter the user ID and password to login to the online PTIN account.
- Follow the prompts to verify information and answer a few questions.
Besides renewing their PTINs, tax pros can use the online system to bring up a summary of the number of filed returns linked to their PTIN in the current year, and to get communications from the IRS Return Preparer Office through a secure mailbox.
First-time applicants can also get a PTIN online, using the same system, with prompts tailored to their process:
- Start at gov/taxpros.
- Select the "Renew or Register" button and select "Create Account" in the New User box.
- First-time users are issued a temporary password and will be prompted to change their password upon logging in.
- Once logged in, select the appropriate "PTIN Sign Up" option.
- Follow the prompts to obtain a PTIN online.
There is a paper option which uses Form W-12 and its instructions, usable for both applications and renewals, but this option can take up to six weeks to process. Depending on when the paper form is submitted, tax pros choosing this option might find themselves in danger of being without a valid PTIN at the start of tax season.
Non-credentialed tax preparers have professional education opportunities
A voluntary IRS offering, the Annual Filing Season Program, seeks to encourage non-credentialed tax pros to get the credentials they need through continuing education courses. this increases their knowledge and boosts their filing season readiness at the same time.
Program participants have to renew their PTIN, finish 18 hours of continuing education from IRS-approved CE providers and agree to follow the specific obligations set out in Circular 230, all by Dec. 31, 2021. An IRS video shows how to sign the Circular 230 consent form and how to print the Record of Completion.
A preparer successfully completing the program gets an Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion from the IRS, and is listed in a public IRS directory of return preparers with credentials and other qualifications.
The directory can be used by taxpayers to find tax pros in their area who have completed the program or hold other IRS-recognized credentials.
IRS suggests tax pros get the Enrolled Agent credential
The IRS issues its elite Enrolled Agent certification to tax pros who have shown special competence in in a number of areas, including federal tax planning, individual and business tax return preparation, and representation. Enrolled Agents have the ability to represent any client before the IRS on any tax matter.
The IRS encourages non-credentialed preparers to consider becoming Enrolled Agents to push their careers to a higher level.
Continuing education opportunities are available from DrakeCPE
Tax professionals who need to complete continuing education requirements can sign up for courses at DrakeCPE.com.