The Internal Revenue Service said Friday the annual period for renewing a Preparer Tax Identification Number is now underway for tax professionals.

More than 725,000 tax preparers need to renew their PTINs before they expire on Dec. 31, 2016. Anybody who prepares a federal tax return or refund claim for compensation needs to have a PTIN.

“We ask that you renew your PTIN as soon as possible to avoid a last-minute rush,” said Carol A. Campbell, director of the IRS Return Preparer Office, in a statement. “It’s easy to let this slip as the holiday season approaches.”

For those who already have a 2016 PTIN, the renewal process only takes a few moments online and costs $50. If you cannot remember your user ID and password, online tools are available to help. Tax preparers can get started at www.irs.gov/ptin. If you are registering for the first time, the PTIN application fee is also $50 and the process can also be done online.

The paper version of the Form W-12, IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number Application and Renewal, is available for those who prefer to do their applications and renewals on paper. It takes the IRS four to six weeks to process paper applications and renewals. Failure to have and use a valid PTIN can lead to penalties. All enrolled agents, regardless of whether they prepare returns, must have a PTIN to preserve their status.

Enrolled Agent Renewals
The IRS is also sending emails to enrolled agents whose Social Security numbers end with a 4, 5, or 6 that they need to renew their status between Nov. 1, 2016 and Jan. 31, 2017.

EAs can renew their licenses using Form 8554, Application for Renewal of Enrollment to Practice Before the IRS, at www.pay.gov between those two dates. They can go to www.pay.gov and enter “8554” in the Search Public Forms box on the left-hand side. There they can complete the online form and pay a $30 renewal fee. Renewals can take up to 90 days to process.

Annual Filing Season Program
The IRS is also kicking off another year of its voluntary Annual Filing Season Program to encourage non-credentialed tax preparers to take continuing education courses so they can improve their knowledge and readiness for tax season. The program generally requires 18 hours of continuing education, including a course in basic tax filing issues and updates, ethics, along with other federal tax law courses. More information can be found at www.irs.gov/Tax-Professionals/Annual-Filing-Season-Program.

Tax preparers who want to receive an Annual Filing Season Program - Record of Completion for 2017, must (1) complete their continuing education requirements by Dec. 31, 2016; (2) have a valid 2017 PTIN; and (3) consent to adhere to specific practice requirements in Treasury Department Circular No. 230.

The IRS has posted a video to demonstrate how to sign the Circular 230 consent and print the Record of Completion.

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