IRS Explains Importance of Participating in AFSP

Post Date: 9/24/14
Last Updated: 9/25/14


Cross References
- IRS Return Preparer Office (RPO) Facebook Post

A Message from Carol A. Campbell, RPO Director
The new Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) is voluntary. While anyone with a PTIN can participate, the AFSP is aimed at encouraging continuing education by non-credentialed return preparers.

Ideally, the IRS continues to hope Congress will authorize the IRS to mandate minimum standards for tax return preparers. In the interim, the IRS has launched this program to promote the importance of education and filing season preparation for return preparers without professional credentials.

Why participate? Many return preparers already take continuing education (CE) courses even though they may not have a professional obligation to do so. So participating in the AFSP won’t require a major adjustment for return preparers, other than to ensure they are taking the correct types of continuing education and that the courses are from IRS-approved CE providers.

By participating in the program and receiving an AFSP Record of Completion, the return preparer will be included in a public directory the IRS plans to launch on the IRS website in January 2015. The "Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications" will contain the name, city, state, and zip code of the following tax return preparers: attorneys, certified public accountants, enrolled agents, enrolled retirement plan agents, enrolled actuaries, and AFSP Record of Completion holders.

Additionally, beginning in 2016, only the categories of preparers listed in the public directory will have the right to represent taxpayers before the IRS. Attorneys, certified public accountants, and enrolled professionals will continue to have full representational rights for all clients before all IRS offices. AFSP Record of Completion holders will have limited representation rights, meaning they can represent clients whose returns they prepared and signed, but only before examination, customer service representatives, and the Taxpayer Advocate Service. Other tax return preparers will not have any representational rights before the IRS.

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