By Ken Berry
Amidst the hubbub of the upcoming holidays, don't forget to renew or apply for your Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) before January 1, 2012.
Recently enacted regulations require all paid tax return preparers to obtain a PTIN each year by December 31 for the upcoming year. All preparers – including those who have obtained PTINs in the past – must apply on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Web site
or submit a paper Form W-12.
The processing time for a printed Form W-12 is four to six weeks. Conversely, it only takes an estimated fifteen minutes to renew your PTIN online.
Of course, PTIN renewal isn't free. The IRS requires you to fork over $63, via credit card or debit card, for the privilege.
The latest version of Form W-12, which was released by the IRS in November, supersedes the prior version released in October. The new form requires more information, including whether the preparer provides Form 1040 series returns, whether the preparer is supervised by others, and additional details about the preparer's credentials.
Note that the requirement for PTINs applies to CPAs, attorneys, and enrolled agents as well as the rest of the tax return preparation community. However, unlike the others, CPAs, attorneys, and enrolled agents don't have to pass competency tests and satisfy other education requirements to qualify for a PTIN.
This new PTIN program was initially instituted by the IRS in 2010. As part of the program, the IRS mailed letters to approximately 100,000 individuals who prepared returns in 2011 but failed to meet the requirements.
Don't let the clock strike midnight on December 31 without securing your PTIN!