IRS Annual Filing Season Program

Set Yourself APART from Unqualified Competitors and Secure Your Representation Rights

The IRS Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) is an annual voluntary IRS program for return preparers. It consists of an Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course with a comprehension test, plus 15 hours of CE annually.

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2016 Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) Course

2016 Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) Non-Exempt Package

2016 Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) Exempt Package

5 Advantages of the AFSP – Record of Completion

  1. Representing your Clients
    • Beginning 2016, there will be changes to the representation rights of return preparers.
      • PTIN holders without an AFSP Record of Completion or other professional credential are only permitted to prepare tax returns.  AFSP participants will have limited representation rights, able to 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. If you can’t represent your client when they need you most, you could lose them to a competitor who can!
      • Attorneys, CPAs, and EAs continue with unlimited representation rights, able to represent their clients on any matters including audits, payment/collection issues, and appeals.
  2. FREE Marketing
    • All tax return preparers who successfully complete the AFSP will be listed on the IRS Federal Tax Return Preparers Directory. This list is being marketed to taxpayers as of January 2015 through a public education campaign. The campaign encourages taxpayers to select return preparers carefully and seek those with professional credentials or other select qualifications. The list or directory is there to help taxpayers determine who is qualified to prepare their taxes. “This new directory will be a practical tool for the millions of Americans who rely on the services of a paid return preparer.” – IRS Commissioner John Koskinen
  3. Promote Your Credentials
    • Completing the voluntary program will give you the ability to market yourself as a credentialed preparer. One way to promote that you have completed the program is by adding, “as seen on” to your email signature, business cards, or other promotional materials.
  4. Certificate from the IRS
    • Upon completing the IRS Annual Filing Season Program, you will receive a record of completion. This is another great way to promote your qualifications as a tax preparer.
  5. Set Yourself Apart
    • Taking the AFSP will allow you to prove that you are a qualified preparer. There are over 400,000 tax preparers who chose not to complete the program. You can set yourself apart and have the means to show that you are qualified to prepare taxes by completing the program, receiving a record of completion, and adding your name to the official IRS Directory.


The AFTR is merely a short federal tax refresher course for experienced tax preparers and will not enable a person who is not an experienced tax preparer to learn how to prepare income tax returns. If you are interested in becoming a tax preparer, you should consider the Comprehensive Tax Course.

AFTR course options are available now for the 2016 tax season. This course is not available after 12/30/2015, as the IRS completion deadline is 12/31/2015. The AFTR course will become available again in the Summer 2016, pending IRS regulations for 2017 tax season.

How Do I Qualify for the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP)?

  • You must have an active PTIN.
  • You must complete 18 hours of continuing education (CE) by December 31st annually, using an IRS Approved Provider.

Here is the breakdown of credit hours for non-credentialed/non-exempt or unenrolled preparers who want an AFSP – Record of Completion:

  • 18 hours of CE annually from an IRS Approved Provider include the following:
    • 6 hour Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course with a comprehension test
    • 10 hours of Federal tax law topics
    • 2 hours of Ethics education

Am I Exempt from the Annual Federal Tax Refresher Course?

Tax return preparers who have successfully completed one of the following national or state tests would be exempt from taking the AFTR course with a comprehension test.

  • Registered Tax Return Preparers (RTRP)
  • Oregon/California and other state based return preparer testing programs
  • Accredited Tax Preparers through Accreditation Council for Accountancy/Taxation
  • Part 1 of the Special Enrollment Exam during 2 year eligibility window
  • Successful VITA program reviewers and instructors

What If I’m a Credentialed Tax Professional or in the Exempt Group Above and Want to Qualify for the Annual Filing Season Program?

Credentialed tax professionals (CPAs, attorneys, Enrolled Agents, Enrolled Retirement Plan Agents, and Enrolled Actuaries) or the exempt group listed in the section above must have 15 hours of CE from an IRS Approved Provider to qualify for the AFSP annually. No CE credit will be given to Enrolled Agents for completing an AFTR course.

  • Credentialed or Exempted Tax Preparers must complete 15 hours of CE annually from an IRS Approved Provider to qualify the AFSP.
  • The 15 hours of CE includes the following:
    • 3 hours of Federal tax updates
    • 10 hours of Federal tax law topics
    • 2 hours of Ethics education

Still not sure if you are exempt or non-exempt?

Start Taking Your CE Now and Be Ready for Tax Season!

Note: Any continuing education taken during 2015 will count as CE credit hours for the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP)

Once you’ve met all three requirements below, an AFSP – Record of Completion will be available in your PTIN holder’s online IRS account for printing. Any “unenrolled” preparers not already bound by Circular 230 will need to sign an agreement to follow sub-part b of Circular 230 before being able to print the AFSP – Record of Completion.

  1. Renew your PTIN for 2016 — in mid-October
  2. Take the appropriate amount of CE
  3. Complete and pass the AFTR course/test, if required
The Income Tax School intends to be an IRS Approved Education Provider for the Annual Federal Tax Refresher course. Our Annual Federal Tax Refresher course is available for online enrollment now at a competitive price. You can count on The Income Tax School to meet all of your tax education needs.
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