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Frequently Asked Questions: PTIN Application/Renewal Assistance

a. General Guidance About the PTIN Application Process

b. The PTIN Renewal Process

c. PTIN Fees/Payments

d. Password Problems and Other Logon Issues


a. General Guidance About the PTIN Application Process

1. I have a social security number, but have never filed a U.S. federal tax return. How do I obtain a PTIN? (revised 10/30/2015)

If you are requesting a PTIN and have never filed a U.S. income tax return, have not filed a U.S. income tax return in the past four years, or do not have a U.S. federal income tax filing requirement, you must complete and submit your application on a paper Form W-12.

You must submit an original or certified copy of your social security card along with one other government issued document that contains a current photo ID. Examples of acceptable supporting documents are listed below. All documents must be a current original or certified copy, and must verify your name. Refer to Form W-12 instructions for complete information regarding acceptable supporting documentation and application requirements.

Examples of acceptable supporting documents:
- Passport/Passport Card
- Driver's License
- U.S. State ID Card
- Military ID Card
- National ID card

*Note: The IRS will accept original documents or certified copies of documents. Original documents will be returned to the preparer at the mailing address shown on the Form W-12. Although the IRS will accept original documents, it is recommended that preparers submit copies of original documents in accordance with either of the requirements outlined below:

  • Copies must be certified by the issuing agency or official custodian of the original record. All certifications must stay attached to the copies of the documents when they are sent to the IRS. Photocopies or faxes of certified documents are not acceptable.  

2. What format should I use when entering the address from my most recent Form 1040 return? (revised 11/1/2010)

Enter your address exactly as it appears on your most recent tax return except for punctuation.  Punctuation should be omitted.

3. What name should I use on the PTIN application? (revised 9/6/16)

You should use the name you used on your most recent Form 1040 income tax return.

If your name changes after you submit your PTIN application or renewal, you may submit a name change request through your online PTIN account or in writing along with a copy of documentation supporting the change. (Acceptable documents are listed below.)

NOTE: Changing the name on your PTIN account will not change your name on other IRS accounts (i.e. EFIN, EIN, EA). You will need to contact the other appropriate business unit for name changes on other accounts.

To submit a request online, go to the main menu and under the ‘Manage My PTIN Account’ section select ‘Submit a name change request’ from the drop down menu. Follow the online prompts to enter the name change and upload the required supporting documents. You will be prompted to review the requested change and documents. Finally, you must attest to the accuracy of the information to complete your online submission.

If you prefer to send a written request, it must include the following information along with the required supporting documents.

  • Preparer's name and PTIN
  • Clear statement of action needed
  • Signed and dated by the preparer 

Submit by mail to:

IRS Tax Professional PTIN Processing Center
104 Brookeridge Drive #5000
Waterloo, IA 50702

We cannot accept faxes or make a change to your name over the phone. Please allow 4-6 weeks for processing of a written or online request.

We will accept the following documents:

  • Marriage certificate
  • Divorce decree
  • Court ordered legal name change
  • Certificate of naturalization
  • Certificate of citizenship
  • Social Security card
  • Government issued photo identification

If the name change is due to a typographical error, please call the IRS Tax Professional PTIN Information Line.

4. If my professional credential(s) do(es) not expire what should I put in the expiration date field? (revised 6/30/16)

If your professional credential(s) do not expire, you should enter December 31 of the year for which you are applying or renewing your PTIN (e.g., 12/31/2016 if you are renewing your PTIN for 2016).

NOTE: Although many professional credentials have expiration dates, the IRS recognizes that several do not. If you do not know whether your professional credentials expire or the expiration date if they do expire, you should contact your credentialing organization to obtain the correct date.

Enrolled agents and enrolled retirement plan agents can contact the IRS Office Enrollment at 855-472-5540.

Enrolled actuaries should contact the Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries at

Certified public accountants can find contact information for all state boards of accountancy at the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy.

Attorneys should contact their states’ credentialing organizations.

5. How can I find my professional credential numbers? (revised 6/30/16)

Enrolled agents and enrolled retirement plan agents can contact the IRS Office Enrollment at 855-472-5540.

Enrolled actuaries should contact the Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries at

Certified public accountants can find contact information for all state boards of accountancy at the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy.

Attorneys should contact their states’ credentialing organizations.

6. Can you define tax compliance? (revised 6/9/11)

All PTIN applicants must attest they are compliant with their personal and business tax obligations, or provide an explanation if they are not.

For purposes of obtaining a PTIN, an individual is in tax compliance if 1) all individual and business returns that are due have been filed (or an extension requested) and 2) all taxes that are due have been paid (or acceptable payment arrangements have been established).

7. Will bankruptcy affect my ability to practice? (posted 9/28/2010)

Bankruptcy generally will not affect a PTIN application. A balance due account with the IRS that is in bankruptcy status will not result in a preparer failing the tax compliance test. But, for an account to be in bankruptcy status, the taxpayer must have included the IRS debt in the bankruptcy filing.

8. Why wasn’t I re-issued the same PTIN I already have? (revised 11/17/2010)

Before assigning a new PTIN, the system checks whether a previous PTIN was in active status for the same social security number. If so, the same number is reassigned.

There are numerous reasons a preparer's previous PTIN might not have been in active status. The most common was that the preparer did not reply to a request for additional information about their PTIN application. In previous years, PTINs were auto-generated to preparers who applied using e-Services. However, if information did not match IRS records or was missing from the application, a follow-up request was sent. If the preparer did not reply, the PTIN was never placed in active status.

Once a new PTIN is assigned, it is not possible to have a prior PTIN re-issued. Be sure to use the newly assigned PTIN on all returns and not the previous PTIN.

9. I believe that my PTIN has been compromised and someone else is using it to prepare returns. How do I report this? (revised 5/17/12)

Use Form 14157 to report misuse. Be sure to include any information you have regarding the person or entity that may be using your PTIN.

10. How can I update my PTIN account information (I’ve moved, obtained a new tax professional credential, changed my place of business, have a new email address, etc.)? (revised 10/30/15)

If you need to change your name, refer to question 3 above for instructions.

PTIN holders with an online account can update most information online. After logging into the account:

Select "Manage PTIN Account Information" to update:

  • Personal mailing address
  • Personal phone number
  • Business name
  • Business website address
  • Business phone number
  • Business mailing address

Select "View or Edit Account Login Information" to update:

  • Email address

To update Professional Credentials

b. The PTIN Renewal Process

1. When do I need to renew my PTIN each year? (posted 6/9/11)

All PTINs expire on December 31 of each year. PTIN renewal open season begins approximately October 16 each year for the following year. You can renew online by logging into your PTIN account or by submitting a paper Form W-12 with the “Renewal” box checked.

Online renewal takes about 15 minutes, but paper renewals take 4-6 weeks to process.

2. I don't see an option to renew on the PTIN system. (revised 10/10/13)
You must log into your original PTIN account and select "PTIN Renewal" from the Main Menu. Do not create a new account. If you do not remember your user ID or password or email from your original PTIN account, select "Forgot User ID" or "Forgot Password" or "Forgot or Cannot Access Email" under "Returning Users" and follow the steps provided. 

If renewal season is underway but your account does not have a “PTIN Renewal” option on the main menu, you should contact the PTIN Helpline.

3. I completed my renewal application, but do not see an option to pay. (revised 6/30/16)
If you do not receive an option to pay at the end of the renewal process, your application is either incomplete or you have chosen an incorrect option from the PTIN Main Menu page. On the "Summary Report" screen there should be a “Fees” section indicating the total amount due for your PTIN renewal. If that section is present, your application is incomplete and you must fix the issues listed under "There are some problems with your information. They are listed below."  

A common error is not adding or updating the expiration date to your professional credentials. Select “Fix Problems” button and return to the professional credentials page. Update your credential information and then attempt to resubmit your renewal request. If your credential has expired, you must delete it. If your credential does not have an expiration date, you should enter December 31 of the year for which you are applying or renewing your PTIN (e.g., 12/31/2016) if you are renewing your PTIN for 2016). 

If the "Summary Report" does not have a "Fees" section, you likely selected an incorrect option from the Main Menu page. You need to go back to the Main Menu page and select the option “Renew My PTIN”.  

4. I’m getting a Duplicate SSN message when I try to renew. (posted 11/8/11)

  1. A duplicate SSN message is caused by trying to create a new PTIN application when one already exists.
  2. If you obtained your PTIN via a paper W-12 originally and are trying to renew your PTIN online, you need a Secure Token to link your existing PTIN to your online account. These are sent in the mail each fall during renewal season.  If you did not receive the letter or if it has expired, call the PTIN information line to request a replacement.   
  3. If you applied and received a PTIN using the online system last year you need to ensure that when you log-in your PTIN is displayed on the right-hand side of the screen. If you are logged into the correct account your PTIN will be displayed on the right side of the screen and you will see a “renew PTIN” link on the left side of the screen.  
  4. If you already have a PTIN do not click “PTIN Sign-Up (for first-time Users).” This link will submit a new PTIN application and will create a duplicate application. If you accidentally clicked this link please call the PTIN line for assistance and tell the CSR you need them to clear a Duplicate SSN error.

5. I am no longer preparing tax returns for compensation and am not an enrolled agent. Do I need to notify the IRS? (posted 1/14/14)

If you do not plan to prepare any returns for compensation in the future, it is not necessary to notify the IRS. You can let your PTIN expire.

If there is a possibility you may prepare returns for compensation again in future years, you should place your PTIN in voluntary inactive status. This function is available under the ‘Manage My PTIN Account’ section of your online PTIN account. Note: This function allows individuals who take a full calendar year off from return preparation to more easily reactivate and renew their PTIN in a later year. If you are paid to prepare tax returns during any part of a year or you are an enrolled agent, you must have an active PTIN.

PTIN holders are ineligible to prepare returns for compensation during the period of inactivity.

6. I have placed my PTIN into a voluntary inactive status. How do I reactivate my PTIN? (posted 1/14/14)

Log into your PTIN account. Select "Manage My PTIN Account." Then select “Reactivate PTIN.” Follow the prompts to update your information and complete the process.

This function will allow you to reactive and renew your PTIN, permitting you to begin tax preparation again.

c. PTIN Fees/Payments

1. Enrolled agents currently pay $30 for enrollment and renewal. Attorneys and certified public accountants pay similar fees to their oversight organizations. Do all enrolled agents, attorneys and CPAs have to pay the fee to obtain/renew a PTIN in addition to their other fees? (revised 10/10/13)

Yes. All paid tax return preparers must have a PTIN. The PTIN fee is in addition to any fee that paid tax return preparers must pay for any other certifications or licenses they hold.

In April 2011, the IRS reduced the enrolled agent registration and renewal fee to $30 from $125 to account for the reallocation of portions of the enrolled agent and enrolled retirement plan agent renewal processes to the preparer tax identification number (PTIN) application and renewal process. Enrolled agents must pay this fee in addition to the PTIN fee.

2. Does the IRS refund PTIN payments? (revised 3/4/14)
PTIN application fees are generally non-refundable except for certain unusual situations.

For unusual situations where the payer believes a refund should be considered, submit a signed explanation to IRS Tax Professional PTIN Processing Center, 104 Brookeridge Dr. #5000, Waterloo, IA 50702. Please include your PTIN on your refund request.

Please allow 4-6 weeks for a response.

3. I sent in a paper Form W-12 and my check has not been cashed. What should I do? (revised 6/7/12)

Unlike tax returns, we generally will not process your payment until a PTIN has been issued. You will receive a letter in the mail when your application is processed. 

If you have a paper Form W-12 pending, you may still opt to go ahead and register online at any time. Your paper form and payment will be returned to you.

Exception: Checks with Forms 8945 and 8946 are cashed upon receipt.

4. Can one payment be sent with multiple paper Forms W-12 submitted together? (posted 9/30/10)

No, processing requirements make it necessary for separate payments to accompany each application.

5. Why has the PTIN fee amount changed? (posted 10/30/15)

The law requires all user fees and related costs to be reviewed every other year. The decrease is a result of the 2015 review.

d. Password Problems and Other Logon Issues

1. What if I can't find my temporary password in my email box? (revised 12/20/2011)

Check your junk or spam folder. If the email is not received in your regular or junk folder, you should update your security filter to allow emails from To generate a new temporary email password, go back into the system and click on “Forgot your password? Click here.”

Note: is not an active email address. You cannot send messages to this address.

2. When I try to log-in I see a message stating “Please enter a valid User ID and Password”. (posted 11/8/11)

You have received this error because either your username or password are incorrect. The information entered must match the username and password you created last year if you registered online.


  1. Click the Forgot User ID link on the PTIN account Login screen to have your username emailed to you. 
  2. Click the Forgot Password link on the PTIN account login screen to reset your password and have a temporary password emailed to you.

If you have forgotten both your username and password, click Forgot User ID first, then click Forgot Password.

3. I can’t remember my User ID for my PTIN account. (posted 11/8/11)

  1. Most preparers use their email address for their User ID.  It is the default User ID and would only be different if you intentionally chose a different User ID. 
  2. If you are unable to remember your User ID, go to the PTIN account sign-in screen. Click the “Forgot User ID” link on the right-hand side of the screen.  
  3. Once you enter the email address and answer the secret question you chose when you first registered last year, an email will be sent containing your User ID. 
  4. If you do not receive your email within 24 hours, check the “Junk” or “Spam” folder of your email account.

4. I can’t remember the Password to my PTIN account. (posted 11/8/11)

Follow these instructions to create a new PTIN account password:

  1. Go to the PTIN account sign-in screen and click the “Forgot Password” link on the right-hand side of the screen. 
  2. Enter the User ID of your PTIN account. If you are unsure of your user ID or if you get the message stating “User ID Not Found” click the ”Forgot User ID” link on the same screen to retrieve your User ID. 
  3. Once you enter the User ID and answer the secret question you chose when you first created your PTIN account, an email will be sent to you that contains a temporary password. 
  4. If you do not receive your email within 24 hours, check the “Junk” or “Spam” folder of your email account. 
  5. Once you receive your temporary password, log into your PTIN account with your user ID and temporary password. 
  6. Follow the steps on the screens to reset your password. 
  7. Carefully note your username and password for future reference.

5. I don’t have access to the email address associated with my PTIN account. (updated 12/12/11)

  1. Select “Forgot or Cannot Access Email?” from the PTIN homepage. 
  2. Enter your Last Name, Date of Birth, and PTIN and select Next. 
  3. Enter your Social Security Number and the answer to your Secret Question. 
  4. Enter a new email address to associate with your account. NOTE: Use only an email address that you will have access to throughout the calendar year. You will receive all PTIN correspondence at this email address. 
  5. You will receive your user ID at the new email address you provided. If you need to change that user ID, log into your PTIN account and select “View/Edit Login Information” from the Main Menu.

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 06-Sep-2016