What Every Tax Return Preparer Needs to Know about Applying for a PTIN


Notice: Historical Content

This is an archival or historical document and may not reflect current law, policies or procedures.

Special Edition Tax Tip 2010-13, Nov. 15, 2010

New regulations require all paid tax return preparers to apply for a Preparer Tax Identification Number — even those who already have one — before preparing any federal tax returns in 2011.

The PTIN requirement is one of the first provisions being implemented in a new oversight program to help regulate the tax preparation industry. Beginning January 1, 2011, anyone paid to prepare all or substantially all of any federal tax return or claim for refund must have a PTIN. The requirement applies to all paid tax return preparers, including those who are enrolled agents, certified public accountants and attorneys.

Tax return preparers can register immediately using a new PTIN sign-up system available through www.IRS.gov/taxpros. Tax return preparers who received their PTINs prior to Sept. 28, 2010, must register using the new sign-up system. Preparers will need to create an account, complete the PTIN application and pay a $64.25 fee. To apply for a PTIN online, follow these four easy steps:

  1. Create Your Account — Create an account by providing your name, email address and security question information. The system will then email your temporary password, which you will change when you go back to enter your information in the PTIN application.
  2. Apply for Your PTIN — Complete the online application by providing certain information from your previous year’s tax return, professional credentials, and more.
  3. Pay Your Fee — The application will transfer you to our partner bank where you will make your payment by credit card or direct debit.
  4. Get Your PTIN — After the bank confirms your payment, your PTIN is provided online. If you already have a PTIN, you will retain the same number in most cases. You will also receive a welcome letter providing additional guidance.

It only takes about 15 minutes to sign up online and receive your PTIN. If you opt to use the paper application, Form W-12, IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number Application, it will take 4-6 weeks to process. For more information, visit IRS.gov.



New PTIN Requirements for Tax Return Preparers

IR-2010-106: IRS Begins Notifying Tax Return Preparers on PTIN Renewals