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Continuing Education Requirement for Registered Tax Return Preparers and Prospective RTRPs

CE Requirement

Beginning in calendar year 2012, RTRPs and RTRP candidates with provisional PTINs (preparer tax identification numbers) must:

  1. Obtain 15 hours* of continuing education (CE) each year.
  2. Take programs from an IRS approved CE provider.
  3. Take programs on the following subjects:
    a. 2 hours of ethics
    b. 3 hours of federal tax law updates
    c. 10 hours of federal tax law

NOTE: Extra hours in federal tax law updates can be counted toward the federal tax law requirement. Extra hours in ethics and federal tax law cannot be counted toward other categories. CE credit is earned for the calendar year the program is completed and cannot be carried forward into the next year. Failure to meet your annual continuing education requirement may result in revocation of your PTIN.

*The CE requirement is pro-rated if you obtain your PTIN after January. You must obtain one CE credit per month or partial month plus two hours of ethics. See Notice 2011-80 for additional information.

CE Reporting to IRS

Your CE provider will send information about your attendance directly to IRS. To ensure you receive credit for your programs, be sure to give your provider the following information as it appears in your PTIN account:
     - Full name

TIP: Cut out the PTIN card from your PTIN welcome or renewal letter and use it when registering for programs.

You will be able to view completed 2013 CE programs in your online PTIN account beginning later in 2013. 2012 programs will not be displayed.

Incorrect CE information should be reported to your CE provider.

Recordkeeping Requirements

Retain records to substantiate CE completion for 4 years.  IRS may request certificates of completion and other related materials.

TIP: Your CE provider should issue you a certificate of completion that includes a special program number (pdf).

CE Requirements for Preparers with Multiple Professional Designations

If you are both an enrolled agent (EA) and an RTRP, your 15 hour RTRP requirement counts toward your annual EA CE requirement (16 hours minimum each year, 72 over three years).

If you begin the year as an RTRP and later become an EA, your CE requirement is pro-rated.

Example:  An RTRP becomes an EA in July. The CE requirement is prorated as follows:

  • From Jan-June as an RTRP there would be a requirement of 1 hour per month totaling 6 hours.
  • From July-Dec as an Enrolled Agent there would be a requirement of 2 hours per month, totaling 12 credit hours.
  • The requirement for the year would be a total of 18 hours with 2 being Ethics.

NOTE: existing EAs do not receive credit for SEE or RTRP test preparation programs.

A CPA or attorney who elects to become an RTRP is required to complete the 15 hours of RTRP CE. These hours must be obtained from IRS approved providers. Whether these hours also qualify for any CE hours required to maintain an attorney or CPA license would depend on the respective governing board's requirements.  

CPAs, attorneys, and others licensed by state boards/organizations should always check with their respective boards/organizations to determine if credit applies toward their continuing education requirements prior to registering for a program.

Additional Resources


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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 2013-01-03