Washington, D.C. - The Internal Revenue Service plans to start fingerprinting thousands of tax preparers as part of its oversight program and run the fingerprints through an FBI database.

The IRS also said that registered preparers would now be required to renew their Preparer Tax Identification Numbers on an annual basis. In addition, the 15-hour continuing education requirement will take effect next year.

As part of the new guidance, the IRS released Notice 2011-80, which provides that PTINs must now be renewed on a calendar-year basis. All PTIN holders must renew their numbers using the online PTIN application or paper Form W-12 and pay the required fee, which will be $64.25 for next year, after October 15 and before January 1 on an annual basis.

The notice also clarifies a number of other issues. The IRS has been issuing provisional PTINs to individuals who are not attorneys, CPAs or enrolled agents to allow them to prepare tax returns prior to meeting competency testing and suitability requirements, because the testing and continuing education programs have not yet begun. Certain tax return preparers who must pass a suitability check will have to provide their fingerprints so that an FBI database search can be conducted. Generally, the fingerprint requirement will affect those preparers who currently have provisional PTINs.

Under the current proposed regs, any participant in the PTIN, acceptance agent or authorized e-file provider programs who resides and is employed outside of the U.S. will not have to be fingerprinted to participate in these programs.

Attorneys, CPAs, enrolled agents, enrolled retirement plan agents and enrolled actuaries also are expected to be exempt from the fingerprinting requirement at this time. However, they are still required to answer all the suitability questions on the PTIN application, such as whether they have been convicted of a felony in the previous 10 years. Individuals participating in the programs also are required to meet any other requirements of those programs.

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