IRS Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP)

A voluntary IRS program
Take this course to participate in continuing education (CE) courses and earn limited representation rights before the IRS.

Ready to enroll in one of our IRS AFSP packages?

AFSP 15-Hour Bundle for Exempt Tax Preparers

Exempt tax preparers can fulfill AFSP requirements with Surgent’s 15-hour package.

AFSP 18-Hour Bundle for Non-exempt Tax Preparers

Non-exempt tax preparers can fulfill AFSP requirements with Surgent’s 18-hour package.


The IRS Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) is an annual voluntary IRS training program for tax preparers. It aims to recognize the efforts of non-credentialed return preparers who aspire to a higher level of professionalism.

Benefits of the AFSP – Record of Completion

Represent Your Clients

When you pass the AFSP, you will have limited representation rights before the IRS. You’ll able to represent clients during an examination of a return that you prepared. PTIN holders without an AFSP Record of Completion or other professional credential are only permitted to prepare tax returns.

Free Marketing

Tax preparers who pass the AFSP are listed on the IRS Federal Tax Return Preparers Directory with professional credentials or other select qualifications. The directory is meant to help taxpayers determine who is qualified to prepare their taxes.

Certificate from the IRS

You will receive a record of completion from the IRS, as well as a Certificate of Completion from SurgentCPE for each course. This shows your clients that you have a baseline level of competency as approved by the IRS.

Set Yourself Apart

Passing the AFSP shows that you are a qualified preparer. Over 400,000 tax preparers choose not to complete the IRS tax training program each year. You can set yourself apart by receiving a record of completion and adding your name to the IRS Directory.

Promote Your Credentials

Market yourself as a credentialed preparer by adding, “as seen on” or “AFSP – Record of Completion” to your tax designation.

Your AFSP Questions Answered

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  • 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 Dec. 31 annually, using an IRS Approved Provider.
    • You must pass a 100-question 3-hour continuous timed exam. This is the AFTR Course. (Exam cannot be paused once started.)
    • You must sign the IRS Circular 230 – Consent Form. Learn more

    IMPORTANT: The AFTR is a short federal tax refresher course for experienced tax preparers. If you are not an experienced tax preparer, it will not teach you how to prepare income tax returns. If you want to become a tax preparer, consider taking our Comprehensive Tax Course.

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

    • 18 hours of CE annually from an IRS Approved Provider includes the following:
      • A 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)
    • Registrants of Oregon, California and Maryland 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

    Learn More About Exempt & Non-Exempt Status

  • How can I be sure if I’m exempt or non-exempt?

    Check the chart below to find out if you are Exempt or Non-Exempt.

    Exemption Status
    AFTR Course
    CE Credits
    Tax Law Updates
    CE Credits
    Federal Tax Law Updates
    CE Credits
    CE Credits
    CE Credits
    Non-Exempt 6 10 2 18
    Exempt 3 10 2 15
    Designation Category AFSP Status
    PTIN Holder – No higher designation held Non-Exempt
    Enrolled Agent Exempt
    Enrolled Retirement Plan Agent Exempt
    Enrolled Actuary Exempt
    CPA Exempt
    Attorney Exempt
    Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Non-Exempt
    Supervised Preparer Non-Exempt
    Non-1040 Preparer Non-Exempt
    Unenrolled Return Preparers Non-Exempt
    Registered Tax Return Preparer (RTRP) Exempt
    CTEC Registered Tax Preparer (CRTP) Exempt
    Oregon Licensed Tax Preparer (OBTP) Exempt
    Maryland Licensed Individual Tax Preparer Exempt
  • 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

    Click here to register for the Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) Course on