Paid tax return preparers must obtain PTIN by January 1, 2011

All paid tax return preparers, including attorneys, CPAs, and enrolled agents, must apply for a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) from the Internal Revenue Service before signing and filing any federal tax returns in 2011. Paid preparers who already have a PTIN must renew it.

After December 31, 2010, tax return preparers must use a PTIN and may not use a Social Security Number as a preparer-identifying number, according to the IRS.
The fee for obtaining a PTIN is $64.25 per year, except for enrolled agents. The IRS is recalculating the $125 enrolled agent renewal fee. A reduced fee amount has not yet been announced.
This fee is in addition to any fee that paid preparers must pay for any other certifications or licenses they hold. Because attorneys, CPAs, and enrolled agents are exempt from testing, they will not be required to pay the separate testing fee.
The IRS has set up an online PTIN application system on its Web site: New PTIN Requirements for Tax Return Preparers.
The site instructs applicants to follow four steps:
  • Create your account First, you must create an account by providing your name, e-mail address, and security question information. The system will then e-mail your temporary password, which you will change when you go back to enter your information in the PTIN application.
  • Apply for your PTIN – You will complete the online application by providing personal information, information about your previous year’s tax return, and professional credentials. See a checklist of what you need before you start.
  • Pay your fee – The application will transfer you to an IRS partner bank where you will make your payment by credit card or direct debit.
  • Get your PTIN – After the bank confirms your payment, your PTIN is provided online. If you already have a PTIN, you will retain the same number in most cases. You also will receive a welcome letter providing additional guidance.
The PTIN application system will search for an existing PTIN assigned to a matching name, Social Security number, and birth date, and if matching information is found, the applicant will be given the same number. Provisional PTINs are assigned to applicants who are subject to testing requirements, are not in compliance with their federal tax responsibilities, or have been convicted of a felony in the last 10 years. The provisional status is temporary. The online process takes approximately 15 minutes, according to the IRS.
A tax return preparer may use the paper application, Form W-12, IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number Application. The IRS states it will take 4 to 6 weeks to process a paper application.
The requirement to obtain a PTIN number is the first in a series of steps that paid preparers must take before they can file tax returns in 2011. After applicants obtain a PTIN number, they will receive information about next steps, including testing and continuing education requirements, if applicable.
Additional tips for PTIN applicants can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions section of the IRS Web site: New Requirements for Tax Return Preparers: Frequently Asked Questions.
Related items:

You may like these other stories...

IRS must take oath on Lerner emails: judgeMackenzie Weinger of Politico reported on Thursday that a federal judge ordered the IRS to explain under oath how it lost emails connected to Lois Lerner, the ex-IRS official at the...
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill on Friday morning that would permanently extend the bonus depreciation tax break for businesses.The measure, HR 4718, which was crafted by Representative Pat...
The Republican-led House of Representatives is expected to pass a bill this week that would permanently extend the bonus depreciation tax break. But don’t expect President Obama to sign it.The Obama administration said...

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Jul 16
Hand off work to others with finesse and success. Kristen Rampe, CPA will share how to ensure delegated work is properly handled from start to finish in this content-rich one hour webinar.
Jul 17
This webcast will cover the preparation of the statement of cash flows and focus on accounting and disclosure policies for other important issues described below.
Jul 23
We can’t deny a great divide exists between the expectations and workplace needs of Baby Boomers and Millennials. To create thriving organizational performance, we need to shift the way in which we groom future leaders.
Jul 24
In this presentation Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA revisits the Excel feature you should be using, but probably aren't. The Table feature offers the ability to both boost the integrity of your spreadsheets, but reduce maintenance as well.