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Overview of Tax Return Preparer Requirements

The chart below provides an overview of the various categories of individuals who may prepare federal tax returns for compensation.

 

Category

PTIN

Tax Compliance Check

 Background Check

IRS Test

Continuing Education

Practice Rights

Enrolled Agents*

 Yes

 Yes

Proposals Pending

Yes (Special Enrollment Exam)

72 hours every 3 years

Unlimited

CPAs**

 Yes

 Yes

Proposals Pending

No

Varies

Unlimited

Attorneys**

 Yes

 Yes

Proposals Pending

No

Varies

Unlimited

Supervised Preparers

 Yes

 Yes

Proposals Pending

No

No

Limited

Non-1040 Preparers

 Yes

 Yes

Proposals Pending

No

No

Limited

 

*Enrolled Agents have passed a three-part, comprehensive IRS exam covering individual and business returns. They must adhere to ethical standards and complete 72 hours of continuing education courses every three years. EAs have unlimited practice rights before the IRS, which means they can represent clients for any tax matter.

**CPAs and Attorneys have unlimited practice rights before the IRS.

†To determine if you are a supervised preparer, view the fact sheet

‡ If you only prepare Forms 1040-PR and 1040-SS, you are considered a non-1040 preparer

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 01-Nov-2013