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PTINs Were Not the Problem – it Was the User Fees

Jun 12th 2017
Founder/CEO CWSEAPA PLLC
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If you are a reader of mine, you will remember an article that I recently wrote about the IRS increasing or planning to increase some user fees. I had mentioned that in the past the IRS had raised the fees for Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) holders.

As it turns out, if you go to the IRS webpage for tax professionals, you will see this:

PTIN System Down

On June 1, 2017, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia upheld the Internal Revenue Service’s authority to require the use of a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN), but enjoined the IRS from charging a user fee for the issuance and renewal of PTINs. As a result of this order, PTIN registration and renewal is currently suspended.

The IRS, working with the Department of Justice, is considering how to proceed. As additional information becomes available, it will be posted on our Tax Pros page.

It’s a little cryptic, if you ask me. So, are we doing away with the PTIN system altogether, or are we just saying that the IRS can’t collect a fee?

I got a PTIN way back when it was first offered as an alternative to tax preparers so we didn’t have to use our Social Security number. When I got a PTIN, it was free. Then the IRS decided that it was going to license tax professionals, and to do so, it required that you get a PTIN.

So, seeing as we were required to get a PTIN, the IRS charged a fee for it. Then each year, we have to pay to renew it.

However, here’s the thing. The IRS can’t license tax professionals, so in theory, we don’t need a PTIN, which became the mechanism by which the IRS tracked continuing professional education (CPE) and everything else. 

Each year, I have to pay $50 to renew my PTIN. Of that $50, $33 goes toward program costs, and $17 goes to a third-party vendor to operate the online system and provide customer support, according to the IRS. 

The court basically told the IRS that it can’t charge a fee anymore. Do we need PTINs? YES. I don’t want my Social Security number on all of these forms I prepare. And it gives the IRS an easy way to track CPE for enrolled agents. 

Let’s see what nonsense the IRS comes up with now. The PTIN was never the problem; it was the yearly shakedown.

Related article:

Is the IRS Right to Increase User Fees?

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By emilymmanuel
Jun 13th 2017 03:40

Any guess on how long this will take to be resolved? I'm currently studying for the EA exam and I can't even register to sit for the test without a PTIN. Talk about frustrating!

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