Information For...

For you and your family
Standard mileage and other information

Forms and Instructions

Individual Tax Return
Instructions for Form 1040
Request for Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) and Certification
Request for Transcript of Tax Return

 

Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate
Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return
Employers engaged in a trade or business who pay compensation
Installment Agreement Request

Popular For Tax Pros

Amend/Fix Return
Apply for Power of Attorney
Apply for an ITIN
Rules Governing Practice before IRS

Frequently Asked Questions: PTIN Application/Renewal Assistance

a. General Guidance About the PTIN Application Process

b. The PTIN Renewal Process

c. 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, or my last return was filed more than four years ago. How do I obtain a PTIN? (revised 9/7/17)

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 can complete and submit your application online through your online PTIN account. From the main menu select PTIN Sign-up (No Recent Tax Return) for the year you wish to register for a PTIN. Follow the online prompts to complete the application process.

If you prefer, you can register for a PTIN by submitting a paper Form W-12. You must submit an original or notarized or certified copy of your social security card along with an original or notarized 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 a current original documents or notarized or certified copies, 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

Send Form W-12 and supporting documentation to:

IRS Tax Pro PTIN Processing Center
1605 George Dieter PMB 678
El Paso TX 79936

Note: The IRS will accept original documents or notarized 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:

  • Certified 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 submitted to the IRS.
  • Notarized copies - must be notarized by a U.S. notary public. The notary must see the valid, unaltered, original documents and verify that the copies conform to the original. You must submit the copy that bears the mark (stamp, signature, etc.) of the notary.

Photocopies or faxes of notarized or 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 1/30/17)

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 Pro PTIN Processing Center
1605 George Dieter PMB 678
El Paso TX 79936

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 nhqjbea@irs.gov.

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 nhqjbea@irs.gov.

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
  • CAF, EIN, EFIN

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’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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. My PTIN has been in an expired status for more than one calendar year. Do I need to submit a renewal application for the prior year/s? (posted 7/18/17)

If your PTIN has been expired for more than a full calendar year, you must renew for each previously expired year during which you prepared returns or were an enrolled agent. If your PTIN has been inactive or expired for more than three consecutive years, you must submit a new registration application.

You can renew online by logging into your online PTIN account. From the Main Menu select the year you wish to renew and follow the prompts to complete your prior year application. You will be asked to attest whether or not returns were prepared during the expired year. If preferred, you may submit a paper Form W-12 for prior-year renewals. You must list each year that you wish to renew on the Form W-12.

Submit Form W-12 by mail to:

IRS Tax Pro PTIN Processing Center
1605 George Dieter PMB 678
El Paso TX 79936

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


c. 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 Taxpros@ptin.irs.gov. To generate a new temporary email password, go back into the system and click on “Forgot your password? Click here.”

Note: Taxpros@ptin.irs.gov 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.

Solutions:

  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.

                                                                             Return to Return Preparer Program FAQs