IRS Annual Filing Season Program General Information
The Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) is a new, voluntary initiative from the IRS to recognize tax return preparers who aspire to a higher level of professionalism and have demonstrated competence in the areas of Federal Tax Law and Ethics through the completion of continuing education courses. Completion of the new program's requirements will result in the tax preparer receiving an Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion from the IRS which can be displayed and used to stand out in the marketplace. Any unenrolled tax return preparers with a valid PTIN are eligible to complete requirements for the AFSP Record of Completion.
Preparers who receive the Record of Completion will have the benefit of being included in the new Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications database that was launched by the IRS in early 2015. The database provides a way for the public to search for qualified tax return professionals.
Also, beginning January 1, 2016, there were changes to the representation rights of return preparers.
Attorneys, CPAs, and enrolled agents continue to be the only tax professionals with unlimited representation rights, meaning they can represent their clients on any matters including audits, payment/collection issues, and appeals. Annual Filing Season Program participants have limited representation rights, meaning they can represent clients whose returns they prepared and signed, but only before revenue agents, customer service representatives, and similar IRS employees, including the Taxpayer Advocate Service.
PTIN holders without an Annual Filing Season Program – Record of Completion or other professional credential are now ONLY permitted to prepare tax returns. For returns prepared and signed after December 31, 2015, they are not allowed to represent clients before the IRS.
After completing the required courses from an IRS-Approved Continuing Education Provider, the preparer will be contacted by the IRS regarding their eligibility for the Record of Completion. The preparer does not need to submit proof of completion to the IRS, this is done by the continuing education providers. Please note that it may take up to 4 weeks for the IRS to contact the preparer regarding their Record of Completion.
In addition to completing the continuing education courses, preparers must also agree to adhere to the practice requirements for tax practitioners outlined in Subpart B and section 10.51 of Treasury Department Circular No. 230 in order to receive the Record of Completion.