As it stands right now, the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) Certificate is not required. This could change based on what happens with the most recent proposal for the IRS and Finance House Committee to regulate all aspects of paid tax return preparers. Until that is settled, the AFSP is still voluntary.
On Jan. 1, 2016 the updated representation rights of return preparers will take effect.
Attorneys, CPAs, and enrolled agents will still be the only tax professionals with unlimited representation rights. This means that they can represent their clients for any case including appeals, audits, payment and collection issues.
Anyone who completes the Annual Filing Season Program will have limited representation rights. This means they can represent their clients if they prepared and signed their returns before revenue agents, customer service representatives, and similar IRS employees which includes the Taxpayer Advocate Service.
Anyone with a PTIN who does not complete the Annual Filling Season Program (and is not exempt) will be permitted to prepare tax returns only. Any returns that have been prepared and signed after December 31, 2015 does not allow client representation before the IRS.
The IRS explains it as “The AFSP aims to recognize the efforts of non-credentialed return preparers who aspire to a higher level of professionalism.”
Looking to get your AFSP Certificate?
Below are the requirements needed to obtain your AFSP Certificate for tax year 2015. Please note that these requirements have changed from the 2014 filing season.
- 1st – Complete an Annual Federal Tax refresher (AFTR) course. This must be completed by December 31, 2015.
This is a six-hour course that will cover filing season issues, tax law updates and will be followed by a knowledge-based comprehension test consisting of 100 questions minimum. To pass, you must get 70% of the answers correct in 3 hours or less.
- 2nd – Earn the required continuing education (CE) credits per the table here . Choose from one of the IRS approved CE providers listed here.
Continuing education consists of ten hours of federal tax law topics and two hours of ethics.
- 3rd – Consent to the 44 page Treasury Department Circular No.230 obligations – Regulations Governing Practice before the Internal Revenue Service.
- 4th – The final step is renewing your PTIN for tax year 2015. Enrollment begins in October, the start date should be announced soon.
- After all these steps have been completed and processed, you will then be added to the Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers. Taxpayers will be able to search this database containing all of your information including name, city, state and zip code.
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