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ALL paid tax return preparers who prepare all or substantially all of a tax return for compensation are required to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) before preparing returns. This also applies to anyone who has a designation, like EA, CPA, or attorney, and those who are unenrolled preparers. The registration is an annual process and may be completed using the IRS online application.

Access to the online application system will be through the Tax Professionals page of IRS.gov.  Individuals who currently possess a PTIN will need to reapply under the new system, but generally will be reassigned the same number.  The IRS offers a paper option for those who do not wish to use the online service.  A paper application can be mailed using Form W-12 and paying the fee with a check or money order.  The paper application will take four to six weeks to process.

Anyone planning to prepare tax returns for compensation in 2017 and beyond is required to register for or renew their PTIN with the IRS BEFORE December 31, 2016, and pay a fee of $50.  According to the IRS, the entire process should only take about fifteen minutes.  If you can’t remember your User ID or password, check out the IRS’ Resolving PTIN Login Issues video found here.

Are you a non-credentialed return preparer looking to set yourself apart from the competition? Do you want to be included in the Public Directory of return preparers or desire representation rights for your clients?  If so, check out our article on the Annual Filing Season Program.  The credential recognizes the efforts of non-credentialed return preparers who aspire to a higher level of professionalism.