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Specific Instructions

Table of Contents

    It is important to follow these instructions. If your application is incomplete, the IRS will request that you supply the missing information within a specified time. The IRS will be unable to process your application if you do not provide the missing information.

    Line 1.   Enter your legal name. This entry should reflect your name as it appears on your tax return and as it will be entered on tax returns that you are paid to prepare. If you are renewing your PTIN, enter the PTIN you received after you first filed Form W-12.

    Voluntarily Inactivate PTIN.   An individual who does not expect to prepare federal tax returns for compensation for a full calendar year may request to be placed in an inactive status.

      You can inactivate your PTIN by accessing your online PTIN account at www.irs.gov/ptin and selecting the Inactivate PTIN function under the Manage My PTIN Account section. You can reactivate your PTIN within three years by selecting the Reactivate PTIN function in your online PTIN account.

       If you do not have an online account, you may call the number listed under the Telephone help, earlier, for additional assistance.

      
    EAs must maintain a current PTIN in order to maintain their EA credential and should not inactivate their PTIN unless they retire.

    Line 2.    If you are applying for a new PTIN after October 1, you must indicate whether you want your PTIN to be valid for the current calendar year or the next calendar year. If you select the current calendar year, your PTIN is valid until December 31 of the current year. If you select the next calendar year, your PTIN will not be valid until January 1 of the next calendar year.

    Note.

    If you do not select a calendar year, then your PTIN application will be processed for the current calendar year.

    Prior-Year Renewals.

    If you checked the “Renewal application” box in line 1 and need to renew for a prior calendar year, you must indicate this by entering the year (YYYY format) in the “Prior year” box and listing each prior calendar year in the space(s) provided. Complete a single Form W-12 for multiple calendar years, for which you are applying for a prior-year PTIN.

    If your PTIN has been in an expired status for more than one full calendar year, you must renew for each previously expired year unless you were inactive during any one of those calendar years.

    If you were inactive during any one of those prior calendar years but did not place your PTIN into voluntary inactive status, you can retroactively do so by following the instructions under Voluntarily Inactivate PTIN, earlier.

      
    If your PTIN has been inactive or expired for more than three consecutive years, you must submit a new registration application to obtain an active PTIN.

    Line 3.   Enter your social security number (SSN) and date of birth. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age to apply.

    Applying without an SSN.

    If you do not have an SSN because you are either a U.S. citizen who is a conscientious religious objector or a foreign individual, you will need to complete and submit an additional form along with Form W-12. Also, because of the documentation that must accompany the submission, you must send the additional form and documentation by mail. See below for additional requirements.

    U.S. citizen who is a conscientious religious objector.

    If you are a U.S. citizen who does not have an SSN because you have a conscientious religious objection to having an SSN, you must complete an additional form as part of the PTIN application process. The form you must complete is Form 8945, PTIN Supplemental Application For U.S. Citizens Without a Social Security Number Due To Conscientious Religious Objection. On Form 8945, you will verify information about your identity, citizenship, and conscientious religious objection. See Form 8945 for instructions on completing and submitting the form and the required documents.

    Foreign persons.

    If you are a foreign person who does not have an SSN, you must complete an additional form as part of the PTIN application process. A foreign person is an individual who does not have and is not eligible to obtain an SSN and is neither a citizen of the United States nor a resident alien of the United States as defined in section 7701(b)(1)(A). The form you must complete is Form 8946, PTIN Supplemental Application For Foreign Persons Without a Social Security Number. On Form 8946, you will verify information about your foreign status and identity. See Form 8946 for instructions on completing and submitting the form and the required documents.

    Line 2 of Form 8946 must contain a non-U.S. physical address. This address cannot be a P.O. box. If a P.O. box is listed on line 2a of the Form 8946, your application will be rejected and returned to you.

    Renewing without an SSN.

    You do not need to resubmit Form 8945 or Form 8946. You are, however, required to enter your date of birth on line 3 of Form W-12.

    Line 4.   Enter your complete personal mailing address and phone number.

      
    If the U.S. Postal Service will not deliver mail to your physical location, enter the U.S. Postal Service post office box number for your mailing address. Contact your local U.S. Post Office for more information. Do not use a post office box owned by a private firm or company. Most PTIN correspondence will be sent to your email address. However, any paper PTIN correspondence will be sent to the personal mailing address listed on line 4.

    Line 5a.   Enter your business address if it is different from the address entered on line 4. Entering the business phone number is optional.

    Note.

    The business address listed on line 5a will be reflected in the online Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications if you meet the qualifications for inclusion. If you have more than one business location, enter your primary business location address.

    Line 5b.   If you are self-employed or an owner, partner, or officer of a tax return preparation business, enter your applicable identification numbers. Make sure to enter any letters that are part of your Centralized Authorization File (CAF) number. If you have multiple Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) or Electronic Filer Identification Numbers (EFINs), enter the number that is used most frequently on returns you prepare. Entering the business website address is optional.

    Line 6.   Enter the email address we should use if we need to contact you about matters regarding this form.

       We will also send PTIN related emails with general information, reminders, and requirements. Any valid email address that you check regularly for PTIN communications is acceptable.

    Line 7.   You are required to fully disclose any information concerning prior felony convictions. A felony conviction may not necessarily disqualify you from having a PTIN. However, generally, an individual who is currently incarcerated for any felony conviction will not be permitted to obtain or renew a PTIN.

      Use the space in line 7 to provide details of your prior felony conviction(s). All facts and circumstances will be considered. You will be contacted if additional information is needed.

      
    Providing false or misleading information on this form is a criminal offense that may result in prosecution and criminal penalties.

    Line 8.   If you have an SSN and are requesting a PTIN but have never filed a U.S. federal income tax return, see below for additional requirements.

    Never filed a U.S. federal tax return.

    If you have an SSN and are applying for a PTIN and any of the statements below apply to your current U.S. situation, then you must submit a paper PTIN application along with two identity verification documents. See Required Supporting ID Documentation below.

    1. You have never filed a U.S. federal income tax return.

    2. You have not filed a U.S. federal income tax return in the past 4 years.

    3. You do not have a U.S. federal income tax filing requirement (such as certain individuals from Puerto Rico).

    Required Supporting ID Documentation.

    When filing a paper Form W-12, you must submit an original or certified copy of your social security card along with an original or certified copy of one other government-issued document that contains a current photo ID. Examples of acceptable supporting documents are listed below. All documents must be current (not expired), an original or certified copy, and must verify your name. If you submit copies of documents that display information on both sides, copies of both the front and back of the document(s) must be submitted with the paper Form W-12 application.

    Examples of acceptable supporting documents.

    • Passport/Passport Card.

    • Driver's License.

    • U.S. State ID Card.

    • Military ID Card.

    • National ID Card.

    To avoid any loss of your original documents, it is suggested you do not submit the original documentation.

    Submitting copies of the document along with Form W-12.

    You can submit original documents or certified copies. A certified copy is a document that the original issuing agency provides and certifies as an exact copy of the original document and contains an official seal from the issuing agency. All certifications must stay attached to the copies of the documents when they're sent to the IRS. Certified documents have a stamp and/or an ink seal (may or may not be raised). Any copy certified by a foreign official must be issued by the agency or official custodian of the original record. The foreign certification must clearly certify that each document is a true copy of the original. All certifications must stay attached to the copies of the documents when they are sent to the IRS.

    If submitting Form 8945 or Form 8946 with the Form W-12, refer to those form instructions for required documentation.

    Where to send the completed PTIN application.

    Send the completed Form W-12 with the required documentation to the mailing address listed under How To File, earlier. If your application is not complete and you do not supply the required information upon request, the IRS will be unable to process your application.

    Line 9.   If you filed your most recent individual income tax return more than 4 years ago, see the line 8 instructions above for information on how to submit Form W-12 and the supporting identification documents that must accompany your submission.

    Line 10.   Reserved.

    Line 11.   Taxpayers are required to be in full compliance with federal tax laws, including filing all returns and paying all taxes, or making payment arrangements acceptable to the IRS. The filing of a tax return and the payment of the tax liability associated with that return are two separate and distinct requirements under the Internal Revenue Code, which must be satisfied within the periods specified for each taxable period in which you have a legal obligation to file.

      Use this space in line 11 to provide the details of any noncompliance, including the steps you have taken to resolve the issue. Providing false or misleading information on this form is a criminal offense that may result in prosecution and criminal penalties. In addition, providing false or misleading information is a separate ground to deny your application for a PTIN or terminate it after it has been assigned. All the facts and circumstances as related in your explanation will be considered. You will be contacted if additional information is needed.

      If you have never filed a U.S. individual income tax return because you are not required to do so, check the “Yes” box.

    Line 12.   Check the appropriate boxes to indicate your professional credentials. Check all boxes that apply. Do not check any professional credentials that are currently expired or retired. Retired or expired credentials are those that are not valid or active at the time of the application. Include the licensing number, jurisdiction, and expiration date. If the expiration date is left blank or incomplete, that specific credential will not be added during the processing of your application. Select only from the professional credentials listed below. There is no write-in option. If you do not have any professional credentials, check the “None” box.

       Recognized professional credentials include the following.

    Attorney.

    An attorney is any individual who is licensed to practice law by the bar of the highest court of any state, territory, or possession of the United States, including a commonwealth, or the District of Columbia.

    Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

    A CPA is any individual who is duly qualified to practice as a CPA in any state, territory, or possession of the United States, including a commonwealth, or the District of Columbia.

    Enrolled Agent (EA).

    An EA is any individual enrolled as an agent who is not currently under suspension or disbarment from practice before the IRS. EAs are licensed by the IRS.

    Enrolled Actuary.

    An enrolled actuary is any individual who is enrolled as an actuary by the Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries.

    Enrolled Retirement Plan Agent (ERPA).

    An ERPA is any individual enrolled as a retirement plan agent who is not currently under suspension or disbarment from practice before the IRS.

    State Regulated Tax Return Preparer.

    A state regulated tax return preparer is any individual who remains current with certain state-based tax return preparer programs. Tax return preparers who are registered with the following will fall into this category.

    Note.

    The above list of participating state programs is subject to change. For the most up to date information on participating states, visit www.irs.gov/ptin.

    • Oregon Board of Tax Practitioners.

    • California Tax Education Council.

    • Maryland State Board of Individual Tax Preparers.

    • State of New York.

    Certifying Acceptance Agent (CAA).

    A CAA is an individual or entity (college, financial institution, accounting firm, etc.) that has entered into a formal agreement with the IRS that permits them to assist alien individuals and other foreign individuals with obtaining Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers. A CAA cannot verify documents in order for individuals to obtain a PTIN. CAAs should enter either their EFIN or the eight-digit office code assigned to them via the CAA application process.

    Note.

    Once you complete the requirements to participate in the Annual Filing Season Program, the IRS will add this to your PTIN account. See more information about the program listed under Reminders, earlier.

    Line 13.   Reserved.

    Signature.   The completed Form W-12 must be signed and dated by the applicant.


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