PTIN Updates

Note: Following the Loving ruling and the failure of its appeal, the IRS is no longer requiring tax preparers to take a competency exam. For more information, see "Taxpayers Defeat IRS in Appeals Court."
Preparers do, however, still have to have and renew their PTIN numbers.

Navigating the IRS’s sweeping rules for Registered Tax Return Preparers (RTRPs) can be complicated; we’ve assembled a set of resources to make sure you’re in compliance and up to date.

Depending on their professional credentials, tax preparers must:
• Register with the IRS and obtain a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) before preparing returns;
• Pass the Registered Tax Return Preparer competency test; and,
• Take continuing education courses annually.

While all preparers must register, some professionals, including CPAs, attorney and EAs, are exempt from the testing and education requirements.

For the latest news on registration requirements, see our Tax News section. For more in-depth IRS resources, visit the links below.


  • The Regulations

    The IRS page on the new regulations provides links to notices and proposed regulations covering PTINs, the exam, CE, practice before the IRS, background checks for RTRPs, user fees under the new regulations, and restrictions on the use of the RTRP title, among others.

  • Registering for a PTIN

    If you haven’t got a PTIN, start here.

  • What You Need to Register

    The IRS PTIN application checklist details documentation and other information needed, such as Social Security number, personal and business information, previous year’s tax return, and other information, and outlines steps to apply.

  • Who Needs What

    This handy chart shows what the IRS requires of every type of tax preparer, and who’s exempt from what.

  • Supervised Preparers/Non-1040 Preparers

    The details of Notice 2011-6 explains how the rules apply to these two particular types of preparers, and who qualifies for this status

  • The Competency Exam

    The IRS’s Test Information Page details steps to prepare to take the test, study materials, locations of the test, a video on what to expect on test day, and FAQs.

  • Continuing Education

    The IRS’s CE page details topics to be covered in the 15 hours of annual education for RTRPs, such as ethics and federal tax laws and its updates. A link to a list of IRS-approved CE providers is also included, and there’s also information for CE vendors.

  • Questions?

    The IRS has hotlines to answer questions about PTINs, the exam, and becoming a CE provider.

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