IRS Now Processing 2014 PTIN Renewals and Applications

By Jason Bramwell
Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) renewals and applications for 2014 are now being accepted and processed by the IRS.
On October 16, the IRS announced it had to delay PTIN renewals for 2014 due to the federal government shutdown, which was resolved by lawmakers later that evening. The shutdown had furloughed several thousand IRS employees and temporarily halted many of the agency's services to taxpayers and tax professionals.
In an October 30 update to its PTIN webpage, the IRS announced, "PTIN applications and renewals for 2014 are now being processed. Anyone who prepares or assists in preparing federal tax returns for compensation must have a valid 2014 PTIN before preparing returns. All enrolled agents must also have a PTIN." The PTIN must be used as the identifying number on prepared tax returns.
The IRS stressed on October 31 that the approximately 690,000 federal tax return preparers in the United States must renew their PTINs for 2014 before they expire on December 31, 2013.
"We ask that you renew your PTIN as soon as possible to avoid a last-minute rush," Carol Campbell, director of the IRS Return Preparer Office, said in a written statement. "It's easy to let this slip as the holiday season approaches."
Tax preparers who have a 2013 PTIN can renew it online for 2014, and the process only takes a few moments, the IRS stated. The renewal fee is $63. The IRS has provided tools on its PTIN webpage to assist tax preparers who forgot their user ID and password.
First-time PTIN applicants can obtain a PTIN online in about fifteen minutes. The fee is $64.25.
Form W-12, IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) Application and Renewal, is available for paper applications and renewals, but takes four to six weeks to process. Tax preparers who have a valid PTIN but do not use it could face penalties.
A number of enhancements have been made to the online PTIN system since last year, including the following:
  • The fully functional "Manage My Account" tool allows preparers to self-correct almost any field at any time, including professional credentials. In the past, 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. However, for security reasons, name changes still require written documentation.
  • Tax preparers can now view completed continuing professional education (CPE) programs reported by IRS-approved providers beginning with 2013 courses. Providers report CPE programs to the IRS based on the preparer's PTIN. Enrolled agents must have a minimum of sixteen CPE hours annually and a total of seventy-two hours every three years. Others can also view voluntary programs completed. Tax preparers should contact their provider if something is missing, as the IRS only displays what providers have sent.
  • A new function for tax preparers who plan to take a full year off allows them to inactivate their PTINs voluntarily and then reactivate the same PTIN when they return to work. Tax professionals who are paid to prepare tax returns during any part of the year must have a valid PTIN. Enrolled agents must maintain a valid PTIN each year in order to maintain their enrolled agent credential and, therefore, are not eligible to inactivate their PTIN.

The October 30 update to the PTIN web page also mentioned PTIN requirements "are not affected by recent legislation." The IRS is referring to a ruling made by the US District Court for the District of Columbia on January 18, 2013, that put a halt to the IRS' efforts to license tax preparers under the IRS Registered Tax Return Preparers (RTRP) program.

On February 1, the court modified its order, stating that it does not affect the requirement for all paid tax preparers to obtain a PTIN. On March 27, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit refused to lift the lower court's injunction, thus suspending mandatory testing and continuing education of all tax preparers.
The IRS filed an appeal of the district court's ruling on March 29.
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