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13371: Annual Filing Season Program FAQs


Drake CPE

What is the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP)?
 

The Annual Filing Season Program is a voluntary program designed to encourage non-credentialed tax return preparers to participate in continuing education (CE) courses.

Non-credentialed return preparers can elect to voluntarily demonstrate completion of basic 1040 filing season tax preparation and other tax law training through continuing education.

Return preparers who complete the requirements for the Annual Filing Season Program will be issued a Record of Completion that they can display and use to differentiate themselves in the marketplace if desired.

Preparers who participate are also included in a public database on IRS.gov that taxpayers use when searching for qualified tax return preparers. The Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications only includes attorneys, certified public accountants (CPAs), enrolled agents, enrolled retirement plan agents (ERPAs), enrolled actuaries, and individuals who have received an Annual Filing Season Program – Record of Completion.

See question 1, Frequently Asked Questions: Annual Filing Season Program.

Do return preparers have to participate in the Annual Filing Season Program?

No, it is a voluntary program. Anyone with a preparer tax identification number (PTIN) can prepare tax returns for compensation, but continuing education is encouraged for all tax return preparers. 

See question 16, Frequently Asked Questions: Annual Filing Season Program

What are the requirements to get the AFSP Record of Completion?

  • Take 18 hours of continuing education from IRS-Approved CE Providers, including:
    • a six (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 by the CE Provider;
    • ten (10) hours of other federal tax law topics; and
    • two (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.

See General Requirements

Are some preparers exempt from taking the AFTR (Annual Federal Tax Refresher) course?

Yes. Some un-enrolled preparers are exempt from taking the AFTR course requirement because of their completion of other recognized state or national competency tests. These exempt groups are still required to meet other program requirements, including 15 CE credits: 10 federal tax law, three (3) federal tax law updates, and two (2) ethics.

Return preparers who can obtain the AFTR – Record of Completion without taking the AFTR course are:

  • Anyone who passed the Registered Tax Return Preparer test administered by the IRS between November 2011 and January 2013.
  • Established state-based return preparer program participants currently with testing requirements: Return preparers who are active registrants of the Oregon Board of Tax Practitioners, California Tax Education Council, and/or Maryland State Board of Individual Tax Preparers.
  • SEE Part I Test-Passers: Tax practitioners who have passed the Special Enrollment Exam Part I within the past two years.   
  • VITA/TCE volunteers: Quality reviewers, instructors, and return preparers with active PTINs.
  • Other accredited tax-focused credential-holders: The Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation’s Accredited Business Accountant/Advisor (ABA) and Accredited Tax Preparer (ATP) programs.

Also see Reduced Requirements for Exempt Individuals.

If I am exempt, how do I obtain my Record of Completion filing season?

  • Take fifteen (15) hours of continuing education from IRS-Approved CE Providers, including:
    • three (3) hours of federal tax law updates,
    • ten (10) hours of other federal tax law topics and
    • two (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.

Do I have to notify the IRS once I’ve completed my education requirements?

No, following the completion of all Continuing Education requirements and renewal of PTIN for the upcoming year, eligible return preparers will receive an email from the IRS. The email will provide instructions for logging into your PTIN account and completing the process. Among the final steps will be a required consent to adhere to specific practice obligations outlined in Subpart B and section 10.51 of Treasury Department Circular No. 230. Following successful completion of these steps, you will be issued an Annual Filing Season Program - Record of Completion.

Please note that it may take up to four weeks following the completion of all requirements for return preparers to receive a Record of Completion and be placed on the Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications. Additionally, you will not be issued a Record of Completion until your PTIN is renewed for the upcoming tax year. 

See question 5, Frequently Asked Questions: Annual Filing Season Program

Does Drake Software provide courses that will help me obtain the AFSP Record of Completion?

Yes, Drake Software offers a 6-hour AFTR course on DrakeCPE.com.

Register for DrakeCPE for free and choose AFTR from the Courses menu. Review the information available, and then click the Pay button to proceed. Current cost is $59. The 2019 AFTR is now available. To be eligible for an AFSP Record of Completion, participants must pass the Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) Course and complete all other required continuing education by midnight, December 31, 2018.

An ethics course is also available under Courses. Look for the course titled The Ins and Outs of Circular 230.

Other educational opportunities are available under Self-Study and On-Demand.

Is there a deadline for completing the AFSP requirements in order to receive the Record of Completion?

The AFTR course and required Continuing Education courses must be completed by December 31st​ before the beginning of the tax season in order to be eligible to receive a Record of Completion.

For more information, including a discussion of benefits to participating, see:


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