IRS Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP)

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Special Enrollment Exam (SEE)

Individuals who wish to become enrolled agents may do so by completing the 3-part Special Enrollment Examination (SEE) which administered by Prometrics on behalf of the IRS.  Aside from the SEE, the IRS does not currently administer examinations and the RTRP exam is no longer available.  In place of the RTRP exam, the IRS has implemented a new voluntary program which is described on this page.

IRS Regulation of Paid Tax Preparers

The IRS regulates paid tax return preparers through administration of a registration system. CPAs, Enrolled Agents. attorneys, and all other unenrolled tax return preparers who prepare tax returns for a fee must hold a valid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). PTINs are obtained from the IRS using an online registration system. The IRS uses the PTIN system to regulate tax preparers in the following ways:

  • Preparers are subject to tax compliance and background checks.
  • The IRS is revising regulations to specify that only tax practitioners who are authorized to practice before the IRS may represent clients in matters before the IRS.
  • Preparers who prepare 1040 tax returns without a PTIN will be subjected to IRS penalties.
  • Beginning 2014 the IRS has implemented a new voluntary program called the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) - Record of Completion.

Annual Filing Season Program

The courts have confirmed that the IRS can regulate who has the authority to represent taxpayers before the IRS.  Accordingly, the IRS has introduced a new program that will allow tax preparers to voluntarily obtain a credential which shows they have completed an approved program of study prior to each filing season.  Tax preparers who complete the program will be included in a new database of credentialed tax preparers that will be promoted to the public during the 2015 filing season.

Under new regulations the IRS has classified tax preparers into three distinct groups:

  1. Preparers who are exempt from the AFSP
  2. Preparers who may obtain an AFSP after completion of required continuing education but are exempt from the Annual Federal Tax Refresher Courses (AFTR)
  3. Preparers who may obtain an AFSP after completion of required continuing education and an Annual Federal Tax Refresher Course (AFTR)
Tax preparers who are exempt from the AFSP

Tax preparers who are CPAs, attorneys, Enrolled Agents, Enrolled Retirement Plan Agents, or Enrolled Actuaries and are currently licensed and in good standing with their licensing authorities are exempt from the AFSP.  These professionals already maintain continuing education and registration that is of a higher standard than the AFSP.

Tax preparers who can complete the AFSP but are exempt from the AFTR

The IRS recognizes that certain tax preparers have already achieved minimum levels of education that are recognized by independent agencies or government bodies.  Preparers who possess these credentials may obtian an AFSP Record of Completion by renewing their PTIN with IRS and completing minimum continuing education requirements.  Preparers included in this "exempt" group include:

  • Anyone who passed the Registered Tax Return Preparer test administered by the IRS between November 2011 and January 2013. 
  • Established state-based return preparer program participants currently with testing requirements: Return preparers who are active members of the Oregon Board of Tax Practitioners and/or the California Tax Education Council.
  • SEE Part I Test-Passers: Tax practitioners who have passed the Special Enrollment Exam Part I within the past two years as of the first day of the upcoming filing season.
  • 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.

Tax preparers who hold any of these credentials may obtain an AFSP Record of Completion by:

Tax preparers who can complete the AFSP only if they also complete the AFTR
  • Take 11 hours of continuing education from IRS-Approved CE Providers, including:
    • 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;
    • three (3) hours of other federal tax law topics; and
    • two (2) hours of ethics.
  • Have a preparer tax identification number (PTIN) for 2015.
  • Consent to adhere to specific practice obligations outlined in Subpart B and section 10.51 of Treasury Department Circular No. 230.
AFTR Course Content

The IRS requires that all AFTR courses contain the following subject matter:

Domain 1 - New Tax Law/Recent Updates
  1. Annual Inflation Adjustments New filing requirement threshold amounts; new personal exemption amounts; new standard deduction amounts)
  2. Additional Medicare Tax (2013)
  3. Net Investment Income Tax (2014)
  4. Same Gender Marriage Filing Status (Rev. Rul. 2013-17 and FAQs)
  5. Health Insurance Premium Tax Credit (ACA)
  6. Review of due dates, including extensions
Domain 2 - General Review
  1. Determination of filing Status
  2. Best practices to ensure use of correct names and SSNs of taxpayers and dependents
  3. Claiming someone as a dependent
  4. Taxability of wages, salaries, tips and other earnings
  5. Interest income (taxable and non-taxable)
  6. Dividend income
  7. Taxable refunds, credits, or offsets of state and local taxes
  8. Self-employment income (Schedule C-EZ) and expenses
  9. Reporting and taxability of Social Security benefits
  10. Taxable distributions from IRAs, pensions, and annuities
  11. Capital gains and losses (Schedule D and Form 8949)
  12. Adjustments to income (deductible part of Self-employment tax; Student Loan Interest deduction; Tuition and Fees deduction
  13. Claiming the standard deduction
  14. Itemized deductions (Schedule A: State & Local Taxes; Real Estate Taxes; Mortgage Interest; Charitable Contributions)
  15. Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) (e.g. Form 8867 Paid Preparer's Earned Income Credit Checklist)
  16. Child Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit
  17. Child and Dependent Care Credit
  18. Education Credits (American Opportunity Credit and Lifetime Learning Credit)
  19. Payment and refund options
Domain 3 - Ethics, Practices and Procedures
  1. Penalties to be assessed by the IRS against a preparer for negligent or intentional disregard of rules and regulations, and for a willful understatement of liability (e.g. IRC 6694(a), IRC 6694(b))
  2. Prohibition on negotiation of client refund checks. IRC 6695(f)
  3. Due diligence with respect to the earned income credit including appropriate use of Form 8867 Paid Preparer's Earned Income Credit Checklist and related penalty for failure to exercise due diligence (e.g. IRC 6695(g))
  4. Requirement to furnish taxpayer with a copy of a return and related penalty. IRC 6695(a)
  5. Requirement to retain a copy of return or list and related penalty (IRC 6695(d))
  6. Compliance with e-file procedures (e.g. timing of taxpayer signature, time of filing, recordkeeping, prohibited filing with pay stub; roper handling of rejects)
  7. Requirements for signing the return as a return preparer and related penalty for not doing so. (IRC 6695(b))
  8. Requirement to furnish identifying number as return preparer and related penalty for not doing so. IRC 6695(c).
Benefits to preparers who successfully complete the AFSP

Tax preparers who complete the AFSP will possess a recognizable credential that will provide the following benefits:

  1. Beginning with the 2015 filing season, the IRS will promote credentialed tax preparers to the public and encourage tax payers to seek out and use credentialed tax preparers, therefore taxpayers who complete the AFSP have a competitive edge over non-credentialed tax preparers.
  2. Tax return preparers who elect to participate in the program and receive a record of completion from the IRS will be included in a database on that will be available by January 2015 to help taxpayers determine return preparer qualifications.
  3. Beginning in 2016, tax preparers who do not hold the AFSP or a higher credential such as CPA, Enrolled Agent, Oregon LTP/LTC or California RTRP, will not be permitted to represent taxpayers before the IRS in audits or other proceedings.

AFSP Courses Offered by Pacific Northwest Tax School

Pacific Northwest Tax School offers an education program that allows tax preparers to obtain the IRS AFSP.  The courses include:

  • The Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course - which includes 6 hours of CE covering the required topics and the required 100 question final exam.
  • IRS Ethics Rules Governing CPAs, EAs and Other Tax Practitioners (2 hour and 4 hour versions are offered)
  • 2013 Tax Law Update (2014 Tax Law Update will be offered in December 2014)
  • A broad range of 1040 series continuing education courses

IRS Approved

IRS Approved Continuing Education Provider

Notice to Members of the National Association of Enrolled Agents: NAEA requires its members to obtain 30 hours of CPE each year. NAEA further requires the CPE be in compliance with IRS guidelines. As an IRS approved sponsor of CPE, our programs meet CPE standards set forth by NAEA.


Approved National Registry of CPE Sponsor

NASBA Sponsor #109290

Pacific Northwest Tax School is registered with the National Association of the State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) as a sponsor of continuing professional education on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors. State boards of accountancy have final authority on the acceptance of individual courses for CPE credit. Complaints regarding registered sponsors may be addressed to the National Registry of CPE Sponsors through its website:



Pacific Northwest Tax School's courses fulfill continuing education requirements for California CPAs and IRS EAs.

Notice to California CRTPs: We are not currently offering CTEC-approved courses due to recent changes in CTEC's requirements.
Click here for more information.

OR Board of Tax Practitioners

Pacific Northwest Tax School is a licensed vocational school regulated by the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission. Our CPE programs are approved by the Oregon Board of Tax Practitioners.

TX State Board of Public Accountancy

Texas Sponsor #009794

The Texas State Board of Public Accountancy requires CPAs obtain CPE from a Board-approved sponsor. Pacific Northwest Tax School has registered with the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy as a CPE sponsor. This registration does not constitute an endorsement by the Board as to the quality of our CPE programs.

NY State Board of Public Accountancy

Sponsor License #002479

The New York State Board for Public Accountancy requires CPAs obtain CPE from a Board-approved sponsor. Pacific Northwest Tax School has registered with the New York State Board for Public Accountancy as a CPE sponsor.

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