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The Competency Exam

As part of its efforts to boost the quality of tax preparation, the IRS is now requiring preparers to demonstrate that they meet a certain level of skill, and for many this means passing a recently created competency exam.

• Taking the test is a one-time requirement; once you pass, you don’t need to take it again.
• Not all preparers are required to take the competency exam – CPAs, EAs and attorneys are exempt, as are supervised preparers and non-1040 preparers. Those who do have to take the test need only pass it once.
• Candidates with a provisional Preparer Tax Identification Number have until Dec. 31, 2013, to take the test. You must have a PTIN in order to take the test.
• The test cannot be taken online; candidates must take it at a test administration center.

For the latest developments on the competency exam, see our Tax News section; for more in-depth IRS resources, visit the links below.


  • The IRS Competency Exam Page

    The main IRS page on the preparer exam has a ton of resources, including a long list of recommended study materials.

  • Sample Test

    This tutorial test manager Prometric lets you run through a sample exam.

  • Testing Locations

    Find the closest site where you can take the exam.

  • Exam Prep

    The ever-growing IRS list of continuing education providers also notes those who offer exam preparation courses for the competency exam.

  • What to Expect

    This video from test manager Prometric literally shows you what to expect on the day you go in to take the exam.

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