AFSP Annual Filing Season Program

Don't lose the ability to talk to the IRS during an examination of your client's tax return.

What is the IRS Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP)

The Annual Filing Season Program is a voluntary continuing education program for tax return preparers. Preparers who complete the program receive an Annual Filing Season Program — Record of Completion. The IRS permits anyone with a preparer tax id number (PTIN) to prepare tax returns for compensation, but will not allow all unenrolled PTIN holders to represent clients before the IRS. An unenrolled tax return preparer must complete the 6-hour IRS Annual Federal Tax Refresher Course (AFTR), along with additional continuing education to receive an AFSP record of completion.

AFSP for Tax Preparers AFSP for Enrolled Agents, CTEC and CPAs

Reasons to Participate in the IRS Annual Filing Season Program

With an AFSP record of completion you have limited representation rights, meaning you can represent clients during an examination of a return that you sign or prepare.

AFSP participants are included in the directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications.

Demonstrate your professionalism. The AFSP differentiates you in the marketplace from other unenrolled preparers.

2015 AFTR Course
$59

Includes the following online course: 6-hours of IRS Annual Federal Tax Refresher You also need 2-hours of ethics and 3-hours of federal tax law topics this year to receive your AFSP Record of Completion from the IRS.

Add a printed copy of the IRS AFTR book for only $60 with free shipping.

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2015 AFSP Complete Bundle
$129$99

Includes the following online courses: 6-hours of IRS Annual Federal Tax Refresher
2-hours of Ethics
3-hours of Federal Tax Law Topics
All of the education you need to get your AFSP Record of Completion this year.

Add a printed copy of the IRS AFTR book for only $60 with free shipping.

Add AFSP Bundle to Cart

Are You Exempt From The 2015 Annual Federal Tax Refresher Course?

Who is exempt from taking the AFTR course?

There are certain preparers who are exempt from the AFTR course requirement because they have already completed other recognized state or national competency tests. However, if these individuals would like to earn the AFSP - Record of Completion, members of the exempt groups must still meet other program requirements.

Preparers who can obtain the AFSP - Record of Completion without taking the AFTR course are:

  • Individuals who passed the Registered Tax Return Preparer (RTRP) test administered by the IRS between November 2011 and January 2013
  • Oregon and California preparers who are current with testing requirements within their state.
  • Individuals who have passed Part 1 of the Special Enrollment Exam (SEE) within the past two years (as of date of upcoming filing season). This could be you, it's time to get your EA!
  • VITA volunteers: Quality reviewers and instructors with active PTINs
  • Other accredited tax-focused credential-holders: The Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation's Accredited Business Accountant/Advisor (ABA) and Accredited Tax Preparer (ATP) programs
  • Credentialed preparers (attorneys, CPAs, EAs, ERPAs)

How does an exempt preparer earn the Annual Filing Season Program — Record of Completion without passing the AFTR?

Exempt preparers can obtain the AFSP - Record of Completion by completing 15 hours of IRS-approved CE, consenting to Circular 230 practice requirements, and obtaining or renewing a valid PTIN for the filing season.

The 15 hours must consist of:

  • 3 hours of tax law updates
  • 10 hours of federal tax law topics
  • 2 hours of ethics

The requirement is pro-rated for 2014:

  • 3 hours of tax law updates
  • 3 hours of federal tax law topics
  • 2 hours of ethics

2015 AFSP for Exempt Preparers
$59

Includes the following online courses: 3-hours of Federal Tax Law Updates
2-hours of IRS Tax Ethics
3-hours of Federal Tax Law Topics
Choose from our entire course library of qualifying courses. All courses meet the IRS requirements for the annual filing season program. Most courses in our library also satisfy CPE program requirements for the IRS (both RTRP and EA) and CTEC. The IRS Tax Ethics course does not qualify for CPA ethics credit, as it does not cover accounting topics. We do not register our courses with individual state boards of accountancy for CPA continuing education, but many of the courses in our library have NASBA and QAS approval.
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Frequently Asked Questions

AFSP FAQ
AFTR AND EXAM
COURSE OUTLINE

AFSP FAQ

Is Fast Forward Academy authorized by the IRS to offer Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) training?

Yes. Fast Forward Academy is an IRS authorized continuing education provider. The AFSP courses we offer are eligible for credit under the Annual Filing Season Program. Preparers who complete the AFSP will be listed in a public database which will be added to IRS.gov by January 2015. This database will be available for taxpayers to use in searching for qualified tax return preparers. The Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications will only include attorneys, certified public accountants (CPAs), enrolled agents, enrolled retirement plan agents (ERPAs), enrolled actuaries, and individuals who have received an Annual Filing Season Program — Record of Completion.

Who is an eligible return preparer?

The AFSP is geared towards unenrolled tax return preparers. The AFSP is not intended for credentialed preparers such as enrolled agents, enrolled retirement plan agents, attorneys, CPAs, or enrolled actuaries.

How do I earn an Annual Filing Season Program — Record of Completion?

Successful completion of 18 hours of continuing education from an IRS-approved provider is required to earn the AFSP Record of Completion.

The courses must consist of:

  • 6 credit hour Annual Federal Tax Refresher course (AFTR) covering tax law updates and a review of common tax return issues
  • 10 hours of federal tax law topics
  • 2 hours of ethics

Since the Program is being announced mid-year, are the hours prorated for 2015?

Yes. The CE required to earn the Annual Filing Season Program — Record of Completion is prorated for this first season. Preparers will be expected to complete 11 hours for the 2015 filing season, including the 6 hour AFTR course, 3 hours of federal tax law topics, and 2 hours of ethics.

Do I have to take a test to earn the Annual Filing Season Program — Record of Completion?

Yes. Successful completion of the 6 hour AFTR course includes passing a 100 question exam. The questions may be multiple choice and true/false. Passing score is 70%.

Is there a fee to obtain an Annual Filing Season Program — Record of Completion?

The IRS does not charge a fee to obtain the AFSP - Record of Completion. However, the CE courses must be obtained from an IRS-approved CE provider.

Do I have to report my course completion to the IRS?

No. Your CE provider will report your hours to the IRS.

Will I have any other requirements to obtain the AFSP - Record of Completion?

Yes. You will be required to consent to adhere to the practice obligations in Subpart B and section 10.51 of the Treasury Dept. Circular No. 230.

How do I get my Record of Completion from the IRS?

The AFSP - Record of Completion will not be available immediately upon completion of the required coursework. Access to the certificate will be provided during the PTIN Registration/Renewal Process.

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 certificates in their online secure mailbox. This process may take up to four weeks after completion of all requirements.

Tax return preparers without an online PTIN account will receive a letter with instructions for completing the application process and obtaining their certificates.

Are Enrolled Agents, CPAs, attorneys and other credentialed preparers allowed to earn the AFSP - Record of Completion?

Yes. Although the program is not intended for credentialed preparers because they already possess a higher level of qualification, they may still opt to participate in the program and will be subject to the same requirements as exempt preparers.

Will I still be able to represent clients before the IRS if I don't participate in the Annual Filing Season Program?

As a PTIN holder you will continue to have limited representation rights before limited offices of the IRS with respect to clients whose return you prepared and signed for calendar year 2015. Beginning in 2016, however, only AFSP participants who obtain a Record of Completion will have those limited representation rights before the IRS for clients whose returns they prepared and signed. PTIN holders without an AFSP - Record of Completion or without other professional credentials will not be able to represent clients before the IRS in any matters.

Attorneys, CPAs, and enrolled agents will continue to have unlimited representation rights and can represent clients before any office of the IRS.

Do return preparers have to participate in the Annual Filing Season Program?

No. The AFSP is a voluntary program. Those who opt not to complete the AFSP courses may still prepare and file returns; although, continuing education is highly recommended for all preparers.

Will CE courses I have already taken in 2014 count toward the Annual Filing Season Program requirements?

Yes, all courses already taken count toward your requirement as long as you provided your PTIN to the provider and the course completion was reported to the IRS by them. No course taken before July 1, 2014 will count as the Annual Federal Tax Refresher course. Only courses designated with the name 2015 Annual Federal Tax Refresher will count towards the AFTR 6-hour requirement.

Is the AFSP Record of Completion a one-time program?

No. This is an annual program. Each Record of Completion will indicate the filing season for which it is valid. Tax preparers will be expected to complete the program each year to obtain a valid Record of Completion for the next filing season.

If I participate, will I be subject to Circular 230?

Yes. To obtain your Record of Completion, unenrolled preparers must agree to adhere to the practice requirements for tax practitioners outlined in Subpart B and section 10.51 of Treasury Department Circular No. 230.

About the AFTR Course and Exam

Do I have to go to a testing center to take the test for the Annual Federal Tax Refresher Course?

No. The 6-hour AFTR course is considered complete when a tax preparer passes the 100 question exam offered as part of the course. The exam will be administered by IRS-approved CE providers who offer the Annual Filing Season Program. All courses and exams must follow an outline and parameters set forth by the IRS.

The AFTR course is a 6-hour course that covers topics divided into three domains:

  • New and updated tax laws
  • General federal tax topics
  • Ethics, practice and procedures

The course outlines will be updated annually by the IRS. Course providers must make sure to cover all topics listed in the outline in their courses each year.

What is the course/exam duration and format?

The AFTR course is a 6-hour course. The course must include a test which will consist of a minimum of 100 questions. The questions should be mostly multiple choice but can include true/false questions as well. The test has a 3 hour time limit.

What if I take the course but do not pass the test?

A participant may attempt an identical test two times, as long as no feedback is provided between attempts. If the participant is unsuccessful on both attempts, they may try again but only with a test that is substantially different from the first version.

When must I have the AFTR course completed to earn the Record of Completion for the next filing season?

Preparers are able to take the AFTR course as early as June 1 each year (July 1 for 2014). The course must be completed no later than December 31 each year in order to earn the Record of Completion for the next filing season. Records of Completion will be issued in accordance with the PTIN renewal process.

Do I need a PTIN before I take the course?

You must have a PTIN in order for your course results to be reported to the IRS.

May I just take the test or do I have to complete the course as well?

No. You are required to complete a 6-hour course and cannot forego the course content to skip straight to the test.

Understanding IRS Representation

31 U.S.C. § 330 authorizes the IRS to "regulate the practice of representatives of persons before the Department of the Treasury." Practice entails communicating with the IRS for a taxpayer regarding the taxpayer's rights, privileges, or liabilities under laws and regulations administered by the IRS. Only select professionals receive practice rights.

NO REPRESENTATION RIGHTS — Return preparers who have not received the IRS Annual Filing Season Program — Record of Completion.

UNLIMITED REPRESENTATION RIGHTS — The following professional may represent their clients on any matters including audits, payment/collection issues, and appeals.

LIMITED REPRESENTATION RIGHTS — Return preparers that receive an IRS Annual Filing Season Program — Record of Completion. They may only 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.

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