AFSP gives you immediate returns and does not involve a large commitment of money or time. As a result, this program is a must-have for all non-certificated tax preparers and is perfect for part-time tax preparers trying to demonstrate extra value to potential employers.
Completing AFSP places you on the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers. This is the same list the IRS uses to suggest tax return preparers to people in need of one, and therefore a great way to get more exposure and clients.
AFSP distinguishes you from other non-credentialed return preparers.
Completing AFSP gives you the right to represent clients whose returns you have prepared and signed before revenue agents, customer service representatives, and similar IRS employees, including the Taxpayer Advocate Service.
Tax preparers who do not have a credential or who have not completed AFSP can only prepare tax returns.
Tax scams are getting more news coverage, and taxpayers are becoming more thoughtful when selecting tax preparers. In fact, in 2015, the IRS began a campaign to encourage taxpayers to choose tax preparers carefully and uses their directory as the standard for professional tax preparers.
Being endorsed by the IRS is a great way to show potential customers they are in good hands.
The easiest way is to buy a package like ours. You are required to complete 12 hours of continuing education, 10 hours of federal tax law, 2 hours of ethics, and a 6-hour Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course. Our packages have everything you need to complete AFSP, and we’ll even report completion to the IRS for you!
You will also need to meet a few basic qualifications:
You may complete your continuing education prior to renewing your PTIN, but you will not receive your Record of Completion from the IRS until you’ve obtained or renewed your PTIN.
If you’ve previously passed the Registered Tax Return Preparer (RTRP) exam, or if you have passed Part 1 of the SEE (EA) exam within the last two years, some of your requirements are waived! You’ll still need to complete 15 hours of continuing education on ethics and tax laws, but you’re exempt from the 6-hour Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course.
The Enrolled Agent designation is the gold standard for tax preparers, but it comes with a greater investment of time and money.
Enrolled Agents have unlimited representation rights, which means they can represent taxpayers before the IRS for any tax matters—audits, payment/collection issues, and appeals. However, Enrolled Agents also need to pass the 3-part Special Enrollment Exam (SEE) and complete continuing education to maintain the certification. Basically, becoming an Enrolled Agent is time consuming, but it is usually worth it because of the increased earning potential and market visibility.
Completing the AFSP is a good middle ground for tax preparers. It doesn’t have a steep time requirement, so you can complete the program quickly and reap the benefits immediately. It is also useful for new tax preparers who aren’t quite ready to commit to getting their EA designation.
Each year, we update our courses to meet all of the requirements set by the IRS. If you meet the basic requirements above and complete our AFSP course, you’ll receive your Record of Completion. We’ll even take care of reporting to the IRS!
All Gleim courses are in compliance with the standards issued jointly by the AICPA and NASBA and our Certificate of Completion is accepted by the IRS, the Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation, Oregon State Board of Tax Practitioners, The Institute of Internal Auditors, Institute of Certified Management Accountants, and many others.