The IRS launched its Annual Filing Season Program to recognize unenrolled tax return preparers who voluntarily increase their knowledge and improve their filing season competency through continuing education and to encourage other unenrolled tax return preparers to obtain continuing education credits.
Once the Annual Filing Season Program – Record of Completion has been issued, Annual Filing Season Program participants are included in a public database of return preparers on the IRS website. The Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications includes the name, city, state, ZIP Code, and credentials of all attorneys, CPAs, enrolled agents, enrolled retirement plan agents and enrolled actuaries with a valid PTIN, as well as all Annual Filing Season Program – Record of Completion holders.
In addition to being included in the public database, Annual Filing Season Program participants will have limited representation rights, meaning they can represent clients whose returns they prepared and signed, but only before revenue agents, customer service representatives, and similar IRS employees, including the Taxpayer Advocate Service. (PTIN holders with out a record of completion or other professional credential will only be permitted to prepare tax returns.)
What are the requirements to obtain an AFSP- Record of Completion?
- Take 18 hours of continuing education from IRS Approved CE Providers. The courses must include:
- A six (6) hour Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course that covers filing season issues and tax law updates, as well as a knowledge-based comprehension test administered at the end of the course by the CE Provider;
- Ten (10) hours of other federal tax law topics; and
- Two (2) hours of ethics.
2. Have an active preparer tax identification number (PTIN).
3. Consent to adhere to specific practice obligations outlined in Subpart B and section 10.51 of Treasury Department Circular No. 230.
Point number 3 above, Consent to adhere to specific practice obligations outlined in Subpart B and section 10.51 of Treasury Department Circular No. 230 is a requirement that, according to the IRS, many preparers do not meet. To help close this “gap”, the IRS has developed a short (4 minute) video to guide you through the process.
In this video and on the site it states you need to read and agree to the Subpart B, Section 10.51 of Circular No. 230. Have you ever read it? Just in case you have some time to spend, I included the details of Section 10.51 below.
Treasury Department Circular No. 230, Subpart B (Subpart B — Duties and Restrictions Relating to Practice Before the Internal Revenue Service), Section 10.51
§ 10.51 Incompetence and disreputable conduct.
(a) Incompetence and disreputable conduct. Incompetence and disreputable conduct for which a practitioner may be sanctioned under §10.50 includes, but is not limited to — Page 28 — § 10.50 Treasury Department Circular No. 230
(1) Conviction of any criminal offense under the Federal tax laws.
(2) Conviction of any criminal offense involving dishonesty or breach of trust.
(3) Conviction of any felony under Federal or State law for which the conduct involved renders the practitioner unfit to practice before the Internal Revenue Service.
(4) Giving false or misleading information, or participating in any way in the giving of false or misleading information to the Department of the Treasury or any officer or employee thereof, or to any tribunal authorized to pass upon Federal tax matters, in connection with any matter pending or likely to be pending before them, knowing the information to be false or misleading. Facts or other matters contained in testimony, Federal tax returns, financial statements, applications for enrollment, affidavits, declarations, and any other document or statement, written or oral, are included in the term “information.”
(5) Solicitation of employment as prohibited under §10.30, the use of false or misleading representations with intent to deceive a client or prospective client in order to procure employment, or intimating that the practitioner is able improperly to obtain special consideration or action from the Internal Revenue Service or any officer or employee thereof.
(6) Willfully failing to make a Federal tax return in violation of the Federal tax laws, or willfully evading, attempting to evade, or participating in any way in evading or attempting to evade any assessment or payment of any Federal tax.
(7) Willfully assisting, counseling, encouraging a client or prospective client in violating, or suggesting to a client or prospective client to violate, any Federal tax law, or knowingly counseling or suggesting to a client or prospective client an illegal plan to evade Federal taxes or payment thereof.
(8) Misappropriation of, or failure properly or promptly to remit, funds received from a client for the purpose of payment of taxes or other obligations due the United States.
(9) Directly or indirectly attempting to influence, or offering or agreeing to attempt to influence, the official action of any officer or employee of the Internal Revenue Service by the use of threats, false accusations, duress or coercion, by the offer of any special inducement or promise of an advantage or by the bestowing of any gift, favor or thing of value.
(10) Disbarment or suspension from practice as an attorney, certified public accountant, public accountant, or actuary by any duly constituted authority of any State, territory, or possession of the United States, including a Commonwealth, or the District of Columbia, any Federal court of record or any Federal agency, body or board.
(11) Knowingly aiding and abetting another person to practice before the Internal Revenue Service during a period of suspension, disbarment or ineligibility of such other person.
(12) Contemptuous conduct in connection with practice before the Internal Revenue Service, including the use of abusive language, making false accusations or statements, knowing them to be false, or circulating or publishing malicious or libelous matter.
(13) Giving a false opinion, knowingly, recklessly, or through gross incompetence, including an opinion which is intentionally or recklessly misleading, or engaging in a pattern of providing incompetent opinions on questions arising under the Federal tax laws. False opinions described in this paragraph (a)(l3) include those which reflect or result from a knowing misstatement of fact or law, from an assertion of a position known to be unwarranted under existing law, from counseling or assisting in conduct known to be illegal or fraudulent, from concealing matters required by law to be revealed, or from consciously disregarding information indicating that material facts expressed in the opinion or offering material are false or misleading. For purposes of this paragraph (a)(13), reckless conduct is a highly unreasonable omission or misrepresentation involving an extreme departure from the standards of ordinary care that a practitioner should observe under the circumstances. A pattern of conduct is a factor that will be taken into account in determining whether a practitioner acted knowingly, recklessly, or through gross incompetence. Gross incompetence § 10.51 — Page 29 Treasury Department Circular No. 230 includes conduct that reflects gross indifference, preparation which is grossly inadequate under the circumstances, and a consistent failure to perform obligations to the client.
(14) Willfully failing to sign a tax return prepared by the practitioner when the practitioner’s signature is required by Federal tax laws unless the failure is due to reasonable cause and not due to willful neglect.
(15) Willfully disclosing or otherwise using a tax return or tax return information in a manner not authorized by the Internal Revenue Code, contrary to the order of a court of competent jurisdiction, or contrary to the order of an administrative law judge in a proceeding instituted under §10.60.
(16) Willfully failing to file on magnetic or other electronic media a tax return prepared by the practitioner when the practitioner is required to do so by the Federal tax laws unless the failure is due to reasonable cause and not due to willful neglect.
(17) Willfully preparing all or substantially all of, or signing, a tax return or claim for refund when the practitioner does not possess a current or otherwise valid preparer tax identification number or other prescribed identifying number.
(18) Willfully representing a taxpayer before an officer or employee of the Internal Revenue Service unless the practitioner is authorized to do so pursuant to this part.
(b) Effective/applicability date. This section is applicable beginning August 2, 2011.