The IRS is reminding practitioners that the deadline for those who want to participate in the new voluntary Annual Filing Season Program must complete the continuing education requirements by Dec. 31.

The AFSP is designed to help taxpayers determine the qualifications of return preparers in 2015; the IRS began the AFSP after the defeat in court of its Registered Tax Return Preparer initiative.

The agency has begun issuing AFSP Records of Completion to preparers who meet the requirements. The record allows uncredentialed preparers who complete the required CE to be included in a Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications, scheduled to launch on the IRS Web site early next year.

For 2015, the program generally requires preparers to complete 11 hours of CE, including a six-hour annual federal Tax Refresher course, three hours of other federal tax law topics and two hours of ethics. Certain categories of preparers who passed recognized tests from states and other organizations can participate in the program by obtaining eight hours of CE.

All courses must be obtained from IRS-approved CE providers. The IRS offers a breakdown of specific requirements and a list of providers with qualifying courses.

CPAs, Enrolled Agents and attorneys already covered by Circular 230 requirements need not take the refresher course as a condition of eligibility.

See the program’s FAQ page for more information.

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