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2018 AFSP Program Requirements

New IRS program started for tax preparers

This new IRS Annual Filing Season (AFSP) program for tax preparers aims to recognize the efforts of non-credentialed return preparers who aspire to a higher level of professionalism. Meet the requirements by obtaining 18 hours of continuing education, including a six hour federal tax law refresher course with test, and you will receive an Annual Filing Season Program – Record of Completion from the IRS.

AFSP participants will also be included in a public database of return preparers. The Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications will include the name, city, state, zip code, and credentials of all attorneys, CPAs, enrolled agents, enrolled retirement plan agents and enrolled actuaries with a valid PTIN, as well as all AFSP – Record of Completion holders.

Complete Information at the IRS - For complete information select this link

How to obtain an AFSP - Record of Completion for the Filing Season 2018

  • Take 18 hours of continuing education from IRS-Approved CE Providers, (these hours must be completed by December 31, 2017 or they will NOT be accepted by the IRS) 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;
    • ten (10) hours of other federal tax law topics; and
    • two (2) hours of ethics.


Summary of Program Requirements

Annual Filing Season Program Exemption Status Filing Season Annual Federal Tax Refresher Course and Test CE Credits Tax Law Update CE Credits Federal Tax Law CE Credits Ethics CE Credits Total CE Credits
Non-Exempt 2016 and beyond 6 0 10 2 18
Exempt 2016 and beyond 0 3 10 2 15


***Note that for Non-Exempt preparers, beginning with the 2016 Tax Season 18 hours of continuing education will be required to receive an Annual Filing Season Program – Record of Completion from the IRS.

AFSP IRS Sponsor Information

BestCPE is an Approved Continuing Education Sponsor for the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) Preparers

View IRS Approved Continuing Education Provider agreement

  • BestCPE is registered with the IRS under the name of our parent company:  CPE Publications, Inc.
  • AFSP IRS Approved CE Provider number is J9K6Q.
  • BestCPE has been in business since 1996 and has offered a wide variety of courses for IRS tax preparers, including EAs, RTRPs and now AFSPs (also called Other Tax Return Preparers (OTRPs)
  • Each tax and ethics course has an approved IRS program number which prints on your certificate

Look for the IRS Approved CE provider logo

As an approved CE provider, we can display the IRS logo on our website.  We also include the logo on your CE certificate, so you can feel confident your courses have been approved by the IRS.

BestCPE Certificates of Completion meet the IRS standards for CE

Written confirmation of course completed includes:
  • Your name and address
  • CE program name
  • IRS issued program number
  • Date completed
  • Length of CE program indicating CPE credit hours 
  • Signature of a sponsor representative
  • IRS approved provider number
  • CE Provider name and address
When you pass the final exam of a course, you automatically receive a CPE certificate of completion by email from BestCPE.
  • You can also view and reprint your certificates at any time by logging into the course system.
  • Although courses must be completed within one year, your login never expires
  • All BestCPE certificates include the required information

BestCPE Reports CE courses completed to the IRS 

In accordance with IRS CE Provider requirements, BestCPE reports your courses completed and CE hours earned to the IRS directly.  CE is reported to the IRS electronically, and the IRS system checks what we submit against the PTIN information you provided to the IRS.  We are required to report all CE courses completed on a quarterly basis for the first three quarters of each year and every 10 days during the final quarter of the year.  The IRS then posts the CE courses to your PTIN account nightly.

How to make sure your CE gets reported to the IRS

We ask for your PTIN number when you enroll in a course, as required by the CE reporting requirements.  The PTIN you enter in our registration must match the first and last name you provided to the IRS with your PTIN registration.  The IRS matches the PTIN to your first and last name only, the middle name or middle initial is not considered.  

We recommend that you login to your IRS PTIN account to verify the name you have on record with the IRS and the PTIN, and then use the exact name when registering for courses.  Do not include any punctuation in your name such as hypens, commas or periods, as these will cause the CE to be rejected when we submit it.  Also, the PTIN is the letter "P" followed by 8 numbers.  Do not use the letter "O" --only use zeros in your PTIN when you enter it in our course system.

PTIN CE hours reported are viewable in your IRS account

You can log into your PTIN account on the IRS web site and view hours reported.  This will allow you to verify that all courses taken have been properly credited to your account.  We anticipate some mis-reported CE due to typos when the PTIN is entered. 

We do automatically send you an email if you have entered an invalid PTIN in your account setup, and when we submit your courses, the hours are rejected by the IRS. Definitely contact us if you don't see the courses posted to your account.

RTRP Program Discontinued



RTRP Program Overview

The IRS started the Registered Tax Return Preparer (RTRP) program in 2012 with two main goals:

  1. Require all tax preparers to pass a basic competency test
  2. Require all tax preparers to complete 15 hours of continuing education (CE) each year, prior to renewing the Preparer Tax ID Number (PTIN)

The RTRP program ended in January 2013 after a few tax preparers sued the IRS, on the basis that the IRS did not have the authority to mandate these requirements. The lawsuit was settled in favor of the tax preparers, and the IRS discontinued the RTRP program and related testing and CPE requirements.

The IRS issued the following announcement:

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.

The Internal Revenue Service, working with the Department of Justice, continues to have confidence in the scope of its authority to administer this program. On Wednesday, Jan. 24, the IRS and Justice Department asked for the injunction to be lifted. Regardless of the outcome of that request, an appeal is planned within the next 30 days.

The IRS is continuing to evaluate the scope of the court's order in determining consistent next steps. 

Is the RTRP credential still recognized?

The IRS only recognizes the RTRP credential for purposes of exempting RTRPs from the new Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course which is a component of the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP).  Currently, RTRPs are classifed as "Exempt" from the AFTR course, and as a result can take fewer CE hours to achieve the AFSP Record of Completion. 

BestCPE is an Approved Continuing Education Sponsor for Tax Preparers, including RTRPs

  • View IRS Approved Continuing Education Provider agreement
  • IRS Approved CE Provider number is J9K6Q
  • Valid in all states for Tax Return PreparersAn approved IRS CPE sponsor for over 10 years
  • CE valid for all PTIN holders, including Enrolled Agents

Continuing professional education for RTRPs

There are no CPE requirements for RTRPs.  You can renew your PTIN without completing any CPE courses.  You can participate in the voluntary Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) if desired.  Review the details of the AFSP here.

If you have taken and passed the RTRP competency exam, you are considered "Exempt" from the Annural Federal Tax Refresher course. Review the "Exempt" versus "Non-exempt" requirements here.

CPA Information

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