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IRS reminds tax return preparers to renew their PTINs before year-end

November 1, 2013

IRS has issued a news release reminding tax return preparers to renew their Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTINs) before year end. All 2013 PTINs will expire on Dec. 31 and must be renewed annually.

Background. For tax returns or refund claims filed after Dec. 31, 2010, the identifying number that a return preparer must include with the preparer’s signature on tax returns and refund claims is his PTIN or such other number as IRS prescribes in forms, instructions, or other guidance. In general, to obtain a PTIN, a tax return preparer must be an attorney, certified public accountant (CPA), enrolled agent (EA), or registered tax return preparer authorized to practice before IRS. Regs have been issued to explain who may obtain a PTIN and who is a tax return preparer. (Reg. § 1.6109-2; see Weekly Alert ¶  3  09/30/2010)

Timely reminder. IRS urges preparers to start their renewal process now to avoid missing the deadline. A preparer who already has a 2013 PTIN can complete the renewal process quickly online ( http://www.irs.gov/ptin ), paying a $63 renewal fee. Preparers who are registering for the first time may also do so online, paying a $64.25 application fee. Alternatively, Form W-12, IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number Application and Renewal, is available for paper applications and renewals, but takes four to six weeks to process.

Enhancements to online PTIN system. IRS also described a number of enhancements that have been made to the online PTIN system since last year, including:

…The “Manage My Account” tool allows preparers to self-correct almost any field at any time. (Previously, most changes had to be made during renewal, and a phone call was required for users to make changes during the rest of the year.) IRS noted, however, that name changes still require written documentation.
…Preparers can now view completed continuing education programs reported by IRS-approved providers beginning with 2013 courses.
…Certain preparers who plan to take a full year (or more) off can inactivate their PTINs voluntarily and then reactivate the same number when they return to work. IRS cautioned, however, that enrolled agents must maintain a valid PTIN each year in order to maintain their EA credential and therefore are not eligible to inactivate their PTIN.