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RTRP CE & Compliance

Important Update: 

As of Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia has enjoined the Internal Revenue Service from enforcing the regulatory requirements for registered tax return preparers. In accordance with this order, tax return preparers covered by this program are not currently required to register with the IRS, to complete competency testing or secure continuing education. The ruling does not affect the regulatory practice requirements for CPAs, attorneys, enrolled agents, enrolled retirement plan agents or enrolled actuaries. Read the court case here.  

What You Need to Know: 

1) The IRS has stopped scheduling and administering all RTRP exams.  If you have already scheduled an exam, you should receive a cancellation notice from the IRS.  You cannot take the exam even on a voluntary basis.
2) The online PTIN system is currently unavailable for both new requests as well as renewals.  We have confirmed with the IRS that the use of a new or old PTIN- or no PTIN – is purely voluntary for the time being.
3) Continuing Education is no longer required for current RTRPs and RTRP candidates, but can be completed voluntarily.
4) The IRS will issue guidance to CE providers shortly.
5) There has been no guidance from the IRS providing that the RTRP designation earned by some preparers cannot be used.  In other words, if you have earned it –use it, until you hear otherwise.

We will update this page frequently as we receive more information. 

I passed the test, now what?

1. Once you receive your certificate (following receiving your passing score and passing the IRS compliance test), you can call yourself a Registered Tax Return Preparer. Make sure you review the IRS regulations for paid advertising using the RTRP designation. 

2. Abide by the IRS Continuing Education Requirements for RTRPs. 

Overview of IRS CE Requirements

RTRP Continuing Professional Education Requirements

        What Should I Do If I Didn't Complete My CE Requirement for 2012? 

        You may make up 2012 CE by taking the outstanding credits in 2013. In addition to the 15 hour requirement for 2013, you must also make up any hours not completed in 2012. Preparers, who answered the continuing education self-certification question upon PTIN renewal indicating that they had not or would not complete their CE by the end of the year, will receive a letter informing them of the 2012 requirement. 

        There is no need to designate the fact that hours earned in 2013 are for 2012. Be sure to keep records of the programs you attend. The IRS may ask for proof of participation for any CE you take, so we recommend keeping the following information in your records for four years:
        •    The name of the CE provider organization;
        •    The location of the program;
        •    The title of the program, approval number received for the program, and copy of the program content;
        •    Written outlines, course syllabi, textbook, and/or electronic materials provided or required for the program;
        •    The date(s) attended;
        •    The credit hours claimed;
        •    The name(s) of the instructor(s), discussion leader(s), or speaker(s), if appropriate; and
        •    The certificate of completion and/or signed statement of the hours of attendance obtained from the continuing education provider.

      • Beginning in calendar year 2012, all Registered Tax Return Preparers and RTRP candidates must obtain 15 hours of continuing education annually. The programs should include two hours of ethics, three hours of federal tax law updates, and ten hours of other federal tax law. Update 1/13: The IRS has now stated that courses in Federal Tax Law Update may be used to satisfy the Federal Tax Law CE requirement if someone is short on Federal Tax Law credits. 
      • An RTRP candidate is any individual who has a provisional PTIN prior to 1/1/12 and who is required to pass the RTRP competency test by December 31, 2013. Even though these individuals have until 2013 to pass the test, the continuing education requirement became effective on January 1, 2012.  
      • Continuing education requirements for individuals who first applied for and received their provisional PTIN after January 31, 2012, will have the CPE requirement prorated for 2012.  These individuals are required to complete two hours of ethics credits and one hour of CE credit regarding federal tax law for each month or portion of a month that the individual is has a provisional PTIN or is a Registered Tax return Preparer.  Please note the proration rules are the same for both RTRP candidates and individuals who become RTRPs during 2012, so long as the individual applied for and received their initial  PTIN after January 31 of this year.  For more details, see IRS Notice 11-80.
      • Preparers must obtain the courses from IRS-approved providers.  To be an IRS-approved CE Provider, an organization must be one of the following:  
        •   An accredited educational institution,
        •   Recognized for continuing education purposes by the licensing body of any state or U.S. territory,
        •   Approved by a qualifying organization as a provider of CE on subject matters designed for registered tax return preparers, enrolled agents, and enrolled retirement plan agents (such qualifying organizations will be known as accrediting organizations), or
        •   Any other professional organization, society or business recognized by the IRS as a provider of CE on subject matters designed for registered tax return preparers, enrolled agents, and enrolled retirement plan agents.
      • Preparers do NOT need to submit their CPE certificates of completion to the IRS. IRS Approved CE Providers are responsible for submitting that information on their behalf. 
      • Even though preparers don’t have to submit their certificates to the IRS, per Circular 230, Registered Tax Return Preparers, Enrolled Agents, and Enrolled Retirement Plan Agents must retain their records of continuing education for four years.

    The IRS will maintain full oversight of approving and reviewing providers

    RTRP Compliance

          • The IRS will conduct tax compliance checks on all tax return preparers to ensure the tax return preparer has filed all required tax returns and is current with their federal tax obligations.
          • The IRS is still considering proposals that would require certain tax return preparers to undergo fingerprinting, or some other type of background check, as part of the suitability check required to obtain a PTIN. PTIN applicants are not required to be fingerprinted at this time, but they must answer the questions concerning prior felony convictions and personal tax compliance on the PTIN application.
          • The IRS has extended Circular 230 ethics standards to all preparers.

    Becoming an IRS Approved Continuing Education Provider

          • Continuing Education organizations must obtain an IRS CE provider number. Organizations are able to apply online and click on the “Apply to become an IRS Approved CE Provider” link.   
          • As part of the process, continuing education providers are required to pay an annual fee. The fee covers costs to maintain a public listing of all approved providers and to collect course completion information from providers, identifying to the IRS, by PTIN, those attendees who have completed a program.
          • Assistance for CE Provider questions is available Monday-Fri, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. EST by calling 855-296-3150 (toll-free) or 202-499-5606.

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