The IRS Requirement for Registering and Training Tax Preparers

In their ongoing efforts to increase revenue for the government coffers, the IRS has begun taking steps to get tax preparers properly trained to do their jobs. In addition, there is also a requirement for more stringent regulation for tax preparers. However, this does not apply to CPAs and tax attorneys because these groups of tax professionals have their own statutory and self-regulatory training within their professions. But anyone outside of CPAs and tax attorneys who prepare tax returns for clients will have to be regulated and tested, including those who work for large tax preparing companies like H&R Block.

The procedure for registering for regulation and testing can be quite complicated. First you have to obtain a Preparers Tax Return Identification Number (PTIN). In the past, tax preparers have been using their Social Security number or a separately assigned number on the tax returns they signed but now under this new system a PTIN is required instead. To obtain a PTIN, a tax preparer has to pay a fee of $50 and an additional fee of $14.50 to the third-party agency issuing the number.

The application for the PTIN can be made online. But if your registration application is rejected for any reason you have another two attempts to apply. If after the third attempt your application has still not been approved, you have to wait another 72 hours before trying again. If you need clarification as to why your application might not have been approved, you can call for help but sometimes the person you speak to may not be able to disclose the exact reasons to you because of ‘security reasons’.

In addition to applying for the PTIN, tax preparers also have to make an online registration to file returns electronically for 2011. Here again, if you are not careful enough, your application can be rejected. You will have to go through some security clearance to complete your registration. If all goes well, it will take about 45 days for tax preparers to be duly registered.

So if you are a tax preparer, do not delay getting your registration done in preparation for the 2011 tax year.

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