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Tax Preparer Regulation

IRS Return Preparer Office Update

In response to an injunction issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on January 18, 2013, the IRS Return Preparer Office has stopped enforcing regulatory requirements for registered preparers. This means preparers covered by this program are not currently required to complete competency testing or continuing education. The injunction only affects registered return preparers.  It does not impact requirements for CPAs, attorneys, enrolled agents, enrolled retirement plan agents, or enrolled actuaries.
At this time, the IRS is not refunding test fees to tax return preparers who tested prior to January 18, 2013. All fees for candidates who were scheduled to take the Registered Tax Return Preparer test on or after January 18, 2013 have been refunded. No additional refund or reimbursement requests related to the return preparer program are being honored at this time.
On February 1, 2013, the court modified its order to clarify that the order does not affect the requirement for all paid tax return preparers to obtain a preparer tax identification number (PTIN). Consistent with this modification, the IRS has reopened the online PTIN system.
Please review these Frequently Asked Questions for more information.
The IRS continues to have confidence in the scope of its authority to administer this program and is working with the Department of Justice to address all options because it believes it has the authority to administer the registered return preparer program. The IRS appeal of the district court opinion was filed on Mar. 29, 2013.
Taxpayers seeking return preparation services are not protected by the minimum standards imposed by the registration program. The National Taxpayer Advocate urges tax professionals to encourage taxpayers to be vigilant when hiring preparers, by taking the following steps:
  • Ask the preparer directly about his or her qualifications and experience level in preparing tax returns. The preparer should convince the taxpayer he or she possesses sufficient knowledge of relevant tax law – not just how to use return preparation software. 
  • Make sure the preparer signs the return and fills in his or her PTIN or Social Security number where indicated on the forms.  
  • Obtain from the preparer a hard copy of the signed and filed return and keep the copy in case of a problem with the return.  

Tax Preparer Regulation

This section includes updated information about tax preparer regulations, including how to apply or renew your PTIN, changes to exam and education requirements, and electronic filing requirements. More information about IRS guidance on return preparer oversight.

Tax Pro Resources

Electronic Filing
Soon, tax preparers may be required to e-file, for more information about electronic filing, visit the e-file provider page on In addition, beginning October 1, 2102, all applications to become an IRS e-file provider must be submitted online.  Read more information to Become an Authorized e-file Provider.

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