The IRS is sending an email to approximately 434,000 non-credentialed tax return preparers this week. The message promotes the Enrolled Agent (EA) and Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) credentials.
The text of the IRS email:
Dear Tax Return Preparer,
Set yourself APART! Participate in the Annual Filing Season Program. The voluntary program is for non-credentialed return preparers who aspire to a higher level of professionalism. The Annual Filing Season Program promotes the importance of education and filing season preparation for return preparers without professional credentials. We encourage you to take time to review the requirements and consider participating for the upcoming 2017 filing season.
Why should you participate?
Many of you already take continuing education (CE) courses, so participating in the Annual Filing Season Program won’t require a major adjustment for you. You need either 15 or 18 hours of continuing education in specific categories and you must complete them by December 31, 2016. Also, you must take the courses from IRS-approved CE providers.
By participating in the program and receiving an Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion, you will be included in the IRS’s public directory of tax return preparers. The “Directory of Federal Tax Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications” is a searchable database that includes the names, city, state, zip code, and credentials of all current year Annual Filing Season Program participants, enrolled agents, attorneys, CPAs, enrolled retirement plan agents and enrolled actuaries with a valid PTIN.
Additionally, as a program participant you have limited representation rights, meaning you can represent your clients whose returns you have prepared and signed before examination, customer service representatives, and the Taxpayer Advocate Service. Tax return preparers without a professional credential who don’t participate in the Annual Filing Season Program have no representation rights before the IRS for returns prepared after December 31, 2015.
For more information, including program requirements, how to locate IRS-approved CE providers, and course and test descriptions, visit www.irs.gov/tax-professionals/annual-filing-season-program.
Go further – Become an enrolled agent
Get the credential that says you are a tax professional. The Annual Filing Season Program is a filing season qualification – an enrolled agent license provides professional status. The enrolled agent credential is an elite credential issued by the IRS to tax professionals who demonstrate special competence in federal tax planning, individual and business tax return preparation and representation matters. Enrolled agents have unlimited representation rights; allowing you to represent your clients before the IRS on all tax matters. As you consider the next steps for your professional career, consider becoming an enrolled agent.
More information is available at www.irs.gov/tax-professionals/enrolled-agents.
Carol A. Campbell
Director, IRS Return Preparer Office
We wrote a detailed article about the IRS’ AFSP credential. You can find it by clicking here.