AFSP is the voluntary program of the IRS that aims to recognize the efforts of non-credentialed return preparers who aspire to a higher level of professionalism. It also allows tax return preparers to be listed in an official IRS database alongside other practitioners with recognized credentials and other qualifications, such as CPAs, attorneys, and Enrolled Agents. This database is set up to educate consumers who utilize tax preparers to complete their returns and provides them with some level of assurance that the tax preparers listed are up-to-date on current tax laws and have met certain educational requirements.
Preparers who passed the Registered Tax Return Preparer exam or those who hold credentials (CPA and EA) are exempt from having to complete the Annual Federal Tax Refresher Course in order to get listed in the IRS directory. However, those exempt individuals must still complete Continuing Education in order to apply for their Record of Completion for 2016.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Annual Filing Season Program aims to recognize the efforts of non-credentialed tax return preparers who aspire to a higher level of professionalism.
AFSP participants are included in a public database of return preparers on the IRS website. In addition, the IRS launched a public education campaign in January 2015 encouraging taxpayers to select return preparers carefully and seek those with professional credentials or other select qualifications. Beginning January 1, 2016, there will be changes to the representation rights of return preparers.
Annual Filing Season Program participants will have limited representation rights; meaning they can represent clients whose returns they prepared and signed, but only before revenue agents, customer service representatives, and similar IRS employees (including the Taxpayer Advocate Service). PTIN holders without an AFSP - Record of Completion will only be permitted to prepare tax returns. They will not be allowed to represent clients before the IRS.
To receive a Record of Completion from the IRS, you must Take 18 hours of continuing education from IRS-Approved CE Providers, including a 6 hour Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course that covers filing season issues and tax law updates, as well as a knowledge-based comprehension test administered at the end of the course; 10 hours of other federal tax law topics; and 2 hours of ethics. Have an active preparer tax identification number (PTIN). Consent to adhere to specific practice obligations outlined in Subpart B and Section 10.51 of Treasury Department Circular No. 230.