By Ken Berry
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is giving procrastinators a second chance. It says it will continue to accept renewals for Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTINs) after the official deadline for 2012 has passed.
But the IRS isn't exactly extending the December 31, 2011, deadline out of the goodness of its heart. It's granting tax return preparers more time to meet the requirement because the system was shut down for "maintenance" for two weeks at the end of 2011. There's no definitive length of the extension, so it's up to you to act as soon as possible.
Here's the gist of the rules: Anyone who's paid to prepare, or to help prepare, federal tax returns or claims for refunds must have a PTIN. Tax return preparers are generally required to renew their PTINs before the start of each year, so the initial deadline for 2012 renewals was December 31, 2011.
The renewal fee for a 2012 PTIN is $63.00. The initial application fee is $64.25.
A tax return preparer who obtained a PTIN by creating an online account can renew the PTIN at www.irs.gov/ptin. The IRS mailed out activation codes to those who used hard copy application forms. The codes can be used to create an online account and convert to an electronic renewal. Individuals may also renew a PTIN by using a paper Form W-12, IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN), but it will take four to six weeks to process the renewal request.
The IRS has posted troubleshooting tips on its website to help tax return preparers who have problems applying for, or renewing, a PTIN. It also said that additional guidance will be issued this month for preparers whose PTINs had expired.