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ANNUAL FILING SEASON PROGRAM

What is the Annual Filing Season Program?

The IRS’s Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) is a voluntary program designed to recognize the efforts of non-credentialed tax return preparers who increase their knowledge through continuing education (CE).

What are the Benefits of Getting an AFSP – Record of Completion?

There are two main benefits of return preparers receiving an AFSP – Record of Completion.

  1. Inclusion in the IRS’s Directory of Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications -The Directory is a searchable, sortable listing designed to help taxpayers find a tax return preparer that carries their preferred credentials or qualifications. It includes information about all attorneys, certified public accountants (CPAs), enrolled agents, enrolled retirement plan agents (ERPAs), and enrolled actuaries with valid PTINs. The directory also includes information on individuals who received the AFSP – Record of Completion.

  2. Representing clients before the IRS - Beginning in 2016, there were changes to the representation rights of return preparers. Attorneys, CPAs, and enrolled agents will continue to be the only tax professionals with unlimited representation rights. However, PTIN holders without an AFSP – Record of Completion or other professional credential will not be allowed to represent clients before the IRS. AFSP participants 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.

To earn an AFSP - Record of Completion for the 2019 filing season, preparers must:

  • Complete an Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course by December 31, 2018 (unless exempt – see the table below). This course is available on DrakeCPE.com June through December.
  • Earn specified continuing education (CE) credits by December 31, 2018 – see the table below
  • Obtain or renew a PTIN for 2019 after the PTIN renewal season begins in October 2018
  • Consent to adhere to the obligations in Circular 230, Subpart B and section 10.51.

How to Get Your AFSP - Record of Completion

A Record of Completion will be issued to a return preparer once all requirements, including renewal of their PTIN for the upcoming filing season, have been met.

Tax return preparers with online PTIN accounts will receive an email from TaxPro_PTIN@irs.gov with instructions on how to complete the application process and receive their Record of Completion in their online secure mailbox.

Continuing Education Requirements

The CE credits required in order to earn an Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) Record of Completion are displayed in the following table. The table does not apply to Enrolled Agents, who are held to a higher knowledge requirement in order to maintain their credentials. EAs are not allowed to earn CE credit for the AFTR course.

Other tax return preparers who desire to earn an AFSP Record of Completion must complete the CE listed in the Non-Exempt row of the table unless they are exempt from the Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course and test requirement (by virtue of having passed one of the recognized state or national competency tests listed below the table). If that is the case, they must complete the CE requirements listed in the Exempt row of the table.


AFTR Exemption Status AFTR Course & Test CE Credits Tax Law Update CE Credits Federal Tax Law CE Credits Ethics CE Credits Total CE Credits
Non-Exempt* 6 10 2 18
Exempt* 3 10 2 15

Who is Exempt from the AFTR Course and Test Requirement?

The following unenrolled preparers are exempt from the AFTR course and test requirement because they have passed other recognized state or national competency tests covering federal tax matters:

  • RTRPs: Anyone who passed the Registered Tax Return Preparer (RTRP) test administered by the IRS between November 2011 and January 2013
  • Participants in established state-based return preparer program with testing requirements: Return preparers who are active members of the Oregon Board of Tax Practitioners and/or the California Tax Education Council, and return preparers who pass the examination of the Maryland Board of Individual Tax Preparers (when available)
  • SEE Part I test-passers: Tax practitioners who have passed the Special Enrollment Exam (SEE) Part I within the past two years, as of the first day of the upcoming filing season
  • VITA volunteers: Quality Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program reviewers and instructors with active PTINs
  • Other accredited tax-focused credential-holders: Tax practitioners who have passed the Accredited Business Accountant/Advisor (ABA) exam or the Accredited Tax Preparer (ATP) exam offered by the Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation

Click here for a more detailed chart of the AFSP continuing education requirements for various categories of return preparers.

Important note about earning CE credits:

  • All CE credits must be earned through IRS-approved CE providers. As an IRS-approved CE provider, Drake has been authorized by the IRS to offer the AFTR course and will report the credits earned to the IRS.

Annual Federal Tax Refresher Course & Comprehension Test

The Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course is a six-hour course accompanied by a 100 question multiple choice knowledge-based comprehension test. A passing score of 70% must be obtained and the test must be completed in 3 hours or less. Preparers can retake the test as many times as is needed to pass. You must complete the course before taking the test.

The course is structured into three domains:

  • Domain 1 - New Tax Law/Recent Updates
  • Domain 2 - General Review
  • Domain 3 - Ethics, Practices, and Procedures

Drake’s Continuing Education Offerings

Drake offers a number of ways to obtain CE credits that can be used to earn your Annual Filing Season Program – Record of Completion:

Drake is committed to providing all required continuing education for any unenrolled tax return preparer who wants to earn his or her Record of Completion through the Annual Filing Season Program. New webinar and self-study topics will be added throughout the year, so check back periodically to see what’s new.

IRS Links