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Published: January 13, 2022   |   Last Updated: February 11, 2022

Getting a PTIN

A Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) is generally required for anyone who is paid to prepare or help to prepare all, or substantially all, of a federal tax return, claim for refund, or certain other IRS tax forms. See the FAQs: Do I Need A PTIN? for the list of returns, claims for refund, and other tax forms submitted to the IRS for which you do not need to obtain a PTIN. You must renew your PTIN every year. 

hands holding a clipboard and checklist

What do I need to know?

All enrolled agents, attorneys, and certified public accountants must get PTINs if they are paid to prepare or aid in preparing all or substantially all of a federal tax return or claim for refund. Enrolled retirement plan agents may need a PTIN, depending on the types of forms you prepare for compensation.

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What should I do?

Apply or Renew Online

The online application process on the IRS’s Tax Professional PTIN System takes around 15 minutes. If you don’t have an account, you’ll need to create one.

The application will ask for personal and business information. If you’re renewing your PTIN, it will review answers you provided last year. Please edit as appropriate.

If you apply online, you’ll generally get your PTIN immediately after you complete the application.

Note:  PTINs are issued for a specific calendar year. A current year PTIN refers to a PTIN for the current calendar year while next year refers to a PTIN for the upcoming calendar year. PTIN applications for the upcoming year can be submitted beginning in mid-October each year.

Apply by Mail

Mailed applications take about four to six weeks to process.

Fill out IRS Form W-12, IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) Application and Renewal.

Note: All PTIN correspondence is delivered through secure online messaging in your PTIN account. Use the most up-to-date email address when obtaining your PTIN to be sure you get all messages.

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How will this affect me?

You need to have your PTIN before you can accept payment from clients to prepare their federal tax returns, claims for refund, and certain other tax forms. Failure to have a current PTIN could result in action from the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility, such as penalties, injunctions, and disciplinary action under Internal Revenue Code section 6695.

Special Circumstances

  • If you’re a foreign person who doesn’t have a Social Security Number (SSN), you must complete and submit an additional form as part of the PTIN application process. You must submit Form 8946, PTIN Supplemental Application For Foreign Persons Without a Social Security Number, along with original documents to verify the information on your Form 8946. If you prefer not to send your original documents, you may send certified or notarized copies. There are instructions on how to apply in the IRS Form 8946 instructions.
  • If you don’t have an SSN because you’re a U.S. citizen who is a conscientious religious objector, you’ll need to complete and submit Form 8945, PTIN Supplemental Application For U.S. Citizens Without a Social Security Number Due To Conscientious Religious Objection, along with the original documents to verify the information on your Form 8945. If you prefer not to send your original documents, you may send certified or notarized copies. There are instructions on how to apply in the IRS Form 8945 instructions.
  • If you’re renewing without an SSN, you don’t need to resubmit Form 8945 or Form 8946. You’re, however, required to enter your date of birth on line 3 of Form W-12, IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) Application and Renewal.
  • PTIN applications asks if you have had a felony conviction. A past conviction may not necessarily disqualify you from getting a PTIN.
    • You’ll need to provide all the details of your conviction(s) on the application, so the IRS will know all the facts and circumstances.  The IRS will contact you, if it needs additional information.
    • Providing false or misleading information could lead to prosecution and criminal penalties
    • If you’re currently incarcerated for any felony conviction, generally you won’t be permitted to obtain or renew a PTIN.
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Wait, I still need help.

The Taxpayer Advocate Service is an independent organization within the IRS that helps taxpayers and protects taxpayers’ rights. We can offer you help if your tax problem is causing a financial difficulty, you’ve tried and been unable to resolve your issue with the IRS, or you believe an IRS system, process, or procedure just isn’t working as it should. If you qualify for our assistance, which is always free, we will do everything possible to help you.

Visit www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov or call 1-877-777-4778.

Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) are independent from the IRS and TAS. LITCs represent individuals whose income is below a certain level and who need to resolve tax problems with the IRS. LITCs can represent taxpayers in audits, appeals, and tax collection disputes before the IRS and in court. In addition, LITCs can provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language. Services are offered for free or a small fee. For more information or to find an LITC near you, see the LITC page on the TAS website or Publication 4134, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List.


IRS Number for PTIN Questions

US 877-613-PTIN (7846) TTY/TDD 877-613-3686
INTL 915-342-5655 (non-toll free)
Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm CST

The Annual Filing Season Program recognizes the efforts of non-credentialed return preparers who want to reach a higher level of professionalism. You can meet the requirements by obtaining 18 hours of continuing education, including a six-hour federal tax law refresher course with a test, and you’ll receive an Annual Filing Season Program – Record of Completion from the IRS. For further information, visit IRS.gov’s Annual Filing Season Program page.

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