It’s amazing that tax preparers are not federally regulated. You need a license to cut someone’s hair, but in most places within the U.S., you don’t need a license to prepare someone’s tax return.
As tax preparers, we should all strive to do better and learn more to ensure our clients are meeting their obligations, while paying the least legitimate amount of tax possible. The quickest and easiest way we can do that as tax preparers is by completing the IRS voluntary Annual Filing Season Program, or AFSP.
The AFSP is a yearly tax training program that aims to recognize the efforts of non-credentialed return preparers who aspire to a higher level of professionalism. It’s essentially a program that highlights basic topics the IRS deems as most important for tax preparers to know, as well as yearly tax law updates, and ethics. It’s truly the minimum standard that any tax preparer should complete each year. This ensures we are staying current with the everchanging tax laws, and abiding by the IRS code of ethics.
How can you qualify for the IRS Annual Filing Season Program?
- Maintain an active PTIN.
- Complete annual CE requirements by December 31 each year – using an IRS Approved Provider (there are exceptions to this).
- Pass a 100-question 3-hour continuous timed exam. This is the AFTR course.
- Sign IRS Circular 230 – Consent Form.
Advantages of completing the AFSP include:
- Ability to Represent Your Clients: AFSP participants have limited representation rights, and it enables you to represent your clients during an examination of a return prepared by you.
- FREE Marketing: AFSP participants are listed on the IRS Federal Tax Return Preparers Directory with professional credentials or other select qualifications.
- Promotion of Your Credentials: You can market yourself as a credentialed preparer by adding, “as seen on IRS.gov” or “AFSP – Record of Completion” to your tax designation.
- Certificate from the IRS: You receive a Record of Completion from the IRS, as well as a Certificate of Completion from Surgent Income Tax School for each course.
- Set Yourself Apart from Your Competitors: Completion of this program sets you apart from other non-credentialed preparers and shows that you are qualified to prepare tax returns.