Why You Should Participate in the IRS Voluntary Preparer Program

Posted by Lee Reams Sr. on

In the past, unenrolled preparers (1) where able to represent returns they prepared in an office audit or correspondence audit with the IRS. This will no longer be true beginning in 2016, even if you have Power of Attorney from your client. Starting in 2016, unenrolled preparers must have a “Record of Completion (2)” for the year the return was prepared and one for the year of audit. Without a “Record of Completion” for each year, your ability to practice as a tax preparer will be substantially limited.

Example: You prepare a client’s 2015 return during tax season in 2016. In 2017, the client gets audited. You must have a record of completion for both the year the return was prepared, 2016, and the year of the audit, 2017, in order to represent the client before the IRSeven though you prepared the return and have Power of Attorney. To further complete the issue, to obtain a Record of Completion for 2016 you must complete all the education requirements and register on your PTIN account before Midnight December 31, 2015.

 How You Obtain a Record of Completion

Obtaining a Record of Completion requires that you do three things:

  1. Take the IRS Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR (3)) course from an approved IRS education provider and subsequently pass a three-hour timed, open-book examination.
  2. Take an additional 10 hours of CE (4) in federal taxation and two hours of Ethics studies.
  3. Agree to abide by the provisions of Circular 230, Sub-part B (5).

 Why You Should Take the AFTR Course from ClientWhys

Not all AFTR course are the same – Although the IRS specifies the subject matter that must be included in the course, it is up to each IRS-approved provider to write their own version of the course. ClientWhys course has been prepared by two Enrolled Agents with combined experience of more than 70 years in preparing returns and training other tax preparers.

Unlimited retakes – Not all approved IRS providers can offer unlimited retakes (6). ClientWhys uses an online, state-of-the-art CE center that draws the 100 required exam questions from a bank of questions, an IRS requirement to offer unlimited retakes.

Benefits Not Offered by Other Providers – Once you pass the course examination, you will receive the following benefits not available from other education providers:

  • We add CPE Completion badges your TaxBuzz Profile (6): Profile listings showing that you have completed this IRS-mandated course and passed the examination will help showcase your expertise to consumers.
  • Join the ClientWhys online tax forum: Tax preparers from across the nation can post questions and share knowledge.
  • Unenrolled preparers refers to tax preparers that are not an Enrolled Agent, CPA or Attorney.
  • A “Record of Completion” is documentation appearing on your PTIN account indicating you have: (a) successfully completed the annual federal tax refresher course and examination, (b) completed the additional CE requirements and (c) after completing (a) and (b) and within the PTIN account agreed to abide by the provisions of Circular 230, Sub-part B. Your are also provided with a certification document.
  • AFTR is the acronym for the Annual Federal Tax Refresher course, the contents (subject matter) of which is dictated by the IRS Return Preparer Office (RPO). Not all AFTR courses are the same, since each approved IRS provider develops their own course based up content required by the IRS.  The course is six hours in duration followed by a 3-hour, 100 multiple-choice final examination, with a required passing grade of 70%.  RPO only allows the ARTR course to be offered between June 1 and December 31.  All providers are required to shut down the course at midnight on December 31.  Therefore it is important the course and examination be completed before the end of the year.  There are no time extensions allowed. 
  • Each participant in the voluntary program must complete 18 hours of continuing education between January 1 and December 31 to qualify for a record of completion. The 18 hours of continuing education is made up of the 6 hours provided by the AFTR course, 10 hours of federal tax subjects and 2 hours of ethics. 
  • Circular 230 is the IRS publication containing theRegulations Governing Practice before the Internal Revenue Service” that applies to Enrolled Agents and CPAs. The publication is divided into several sub-parts. Sub-part B contains the “Duties and Restrictions Relating to Practice Before the Internal Revenue Service.”  Each participant, after completing the AFTR and other required education, must access their PTIN account and from within the PTIN account agree to abide by Circular 230, Sub-part B. 
  • Claim your TaxBuzz.com profile at http://www.taxbuzz.com under list your business option on footer.