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FAQs: Registered Tax Return Preparer Continuing Education Requirements

1. When does the new RTRP continuing education requirement begin and who does it apply to? (posted 3/30/12)

Beginning in calendar year 2012, all Registered Tax Return Preparers and RTRP candidates must obtain 15 hours of continuing education annually. The programs should include two hours of ethics, three hours of federal tax law updates, and ten hours of other federal tax law.

An RTRP candidate is any individual who has a provisional PTIN and who is required to pass the RTRP competency test by December 31, 2013. Even though these individuals have until 2013 to pass the test, the continuing education requirement begins in 2012.

2. What should I do if I didn't complete my CE requirement for 2012? (posted 1/3/13)

You must make up 2012 CE by taking the outstanding credits in 2013. In addition to the 15 hour requirement for 2013, you must also make up any hours not completed in 2012. There is no need to designate or notify us that hours earned in 2013 are for 2012. Be sure to keep records of the programs you attend.

3. My state requires continuing education. Will the credits I receive for completing my state’s continuing education requirements count toward the IRS’ continuing education requirement for Registered Tax Return Preparers? (posted 3/18/11)

Only credits obtained through courses offered by IRS approved continuing education providers will count towards the IRS’ continuing education requirement. If a course offered by an IRS approved continuing education provider also meets a state’s continuing education requirements, the IRS will not prohibit a tax return preparer from using the credits obtained from the course to satisfy both requirements, but the tax return preparer should consult with the relevant state’s licensing authority to determine whether the state has any restrictions.
4. What are the recordkeeping requirements for RTRPs, EAs, and ERPAs? (posted 1/3/12)
Preparers must retain the following records for four years:

  • The name of the CE provider organization;
  • The location of the program;
  • The title of the program, approval number received for the program, and copy of the program content;
  • Written outlines, course syllabi, textbook, and/or electronic materials provided or required for the program;
  • The date(s) attended;
  • The credit hours claimed;
  • The name(s) of the instructor(s), discussion leader(s), or speaker(s), if appropriate; and
  • The certificate of completion and/or signed statement of the hours of attendance obtained from the continuing education provider.

5. How does a preparer know that they are taking CE from an IRS-approved provider? (revised 5/4/12)
They should look at the public listing. Approved providers may also show the “IRS Approved Continuing Education Provider” logo. In addition, all providers are issued a Provider Number from the IRS.

Your certificate should also contain a program number.
6. Can I obtain credit for CE taken prior to obtaining a PTIN number? (posted 3/12/12)
No. Any CE earned before obtaining a PTIN will not count toward the CE requirements.

7. Do I need to send my Certificates of Completion from programs I've taken to the IRS? (updated 4/25/12)

No. Any programs you've taken from an IRS-approved CE Provider will be reported to the IRS by the Provider. You will be able to view your completed CE credits through your online PTIN account later in 2013.

8. If I obtain excess hours in ethics and/or federal tax law updates, can those hours be counted toward my federal tax law requirement? (revised 9/24/12)
Only excess hours in federal tax law updates can be counted toward the federal tax law requirement. Excess hours in ethics and federal tax law cannot be counted toward other categories.

9. How can I ensure that I receive credit for the programs that I take? (updated 12/4/12)

Follow these steps:

  1. Attend a program from an approved IRS CE Provider.
  2. Give the provider your correctly spelled name and PTIN (PXXXXXXXX).
  3. Double-check that the PTIN you provide matches the PTIN in your welcome letter or online PTIN account.
  4. Beginning in mid-2013, you can check your online PTIN account to see a display of the 2013 CE programs reported to the IRS for you by providers. 

Note: CE programs attended for 2012 will never appear in your online PTIN account. The IRS is allowing PTIN holders to self-attest to meeting the 2012 CE requirement.

10. I want to take a test prep program, but there isn't an approved provider in my area. What do I do? (posted 5/29/12)

The IRS public listing displays the city and state where the CE organization is located. This does not necessarily indicate where programs are offered. To see if a provider offers programs in your area, visit the web site of the individual CE organization. There are also self-study and group internet programs.

11. Do test preparation programs for the RTRP competency test or the SEE qualify toward my RTRP CE requirement? (revised 12/6/12)

RTRP Test Preparation Programs:

Provisional PTIN holders may receive CE credit for test preparation programs for the RTRP competency test until December 31, 2013. The content of these test preparation programs must focus on federal tax law and a maximum of 10 hours may be credited to satisfy your annual federal tax law CE requirement.

Enrolled agents are not eligible to receive CE credit for RTRP test preparation programs.

Special Enrollment Examination (SEE) Preparation Programs:

Provisional PTIN holders and RTRPs may also receive CE credit for test preparation programs for the SEE. The content of these test preparation programs must focus on federal tax law and a maximum of 10 hours may be credited to satisfy your annual federal tax law CE requirement. 

NOTE: Providers may retroactively report 2012 CE credit for provisional PTIN holders or RTRPs who completed SEE preparation programs prior to 11/21/12.

Enrolled agents may not receive CE credit for Special Enrollment Examination preparation programs. 

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 31-Dec-2013