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IRS Tax Return Preparer Requirements

Overview of Tax Return Preparer Requirements

The chart below provides an overview of the various categories of individuals who may prepare federal tax returns for compensation.

Category

PTIN

Tax Compliance Check

 Background Check

IRS Test

Continuing Education

Practice Rights

Enrolled Agents*

 Yes

 Yes

Proposals Pending

Yes (Special Enrollment Exam)

72 hours every 3 years

Unlimited

Registered Tax Return Preparers**

 Yes

 Yes

Proposals Pending

Yes (RTRP Test)

15 hours per Year

Limited

CPAs***

 Yes

 Yes

Proposals Pending

No

Varies

Unlimited

Attorneys***

 Yes

 Yes

Proposals Pending

No

Varies

Unlimited

Supervised Preparers

 Yes

 Yes

Proposals Pending

No

No

Limited

Non-1040 Preparers

 Yes

 Yes

Proposals Pending

No

No

Limited

*Enrolled Agents have passed a three-part, comprehensive IRS exam covering individual and business returns. They must adhere to ethical standards and complete 72 hours of continuing education courses every three years. EAs have unlimited practice rights before the IRS, which means they can represent clients for any tax matter.

**RTRPs - On Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia 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 required 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 IRS continues to have confidence in the scope of its authority to administer this program and is working with the Department of Justice to address all options, including a planned appeal.

***CPAs and Attorneys have unlimited practice rights before the IRS.

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