Annual Filing Season Program
The Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) is an optional IRS program that provides you with the certification that shows your clients that you are a true and reliable professional tax preparer.
The AFSP certification provides you with continued training on the ever changing tax law, the right to represent your clients in certain matters before the IRS, and a listing on the IRS website as a certified tax preparer.
Anyone participating in the IRS's Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) is required to obtain continuing education to maintain their Record of Completion. We are an IRS Approved Continuing Education Provider and we are here to help you complete this requirement.
We will report your PTIN to the IRS within 5 business days of your course completion.
10 Hour Tax Law Package
This package includes all 10 hours of Tax Law needed for your renewal, and is made up of the following:
- Self Employed Taxes and Dependent Exemptions (3 Hours)
- Gross Income, Capital Exchanges, and Property Basis (7 Hours)
Retirement Plans & Retirement Funds
This 4-hour class provides 4 credit hours of Tax Updates, and goes over IRA dollar amount updates as well as updates to the maximum age for contributions. We also cover the CARES Act, taxation of distributions, and taxation of payments. The course concludes with a discussion of beneficiaries and relevant topics related to Coronavirus and Qualified Disaster Relief.
Gross Income, Capital Exchanges, and Property Basis
This class provides 7 hours of Tax Law, and hits on the topics of
- recording and reporting tip income,
- investment income,
- the sale and exchange of capital assets,
- taxable and nontaxable exchanges, and
- reporting the sale of a home.
Federal Filing Status
This class provides 3 hours of Tax Law, and in it we will be examining the critical topic of filing status. The filing status that is chosen for a tax return has numerous effects on the return including altering the amount a taxpayer owes and the amount of standard deduction a taxpayer can claim. It is very important that correct filing status be selected when a return is prepared.
Inflation Adjustments 2021 and the Basics of Filing
This course provides 3 hours of Tax Updates content, and teaches on the topics of
- important federal tax updates for 2021,
- update of inflation adjustments for 2021,
- standard deductions and tax rates,
- explanation of filing information,
- refunds, amounts owed, and recordkeeping.
Supplemental Gains and Losses
This course provides 3 hours of Tax Law, and will cover information on business income, expenses, and tax credits that will help you maximize your proficiency in preparing income tax returns for a large segment of your clientele.
Other Taxes and Payments
This course provides 3 hours of Tax Updates, and will cover information on the Alternative Minimum Tax, Form 6251, minor children and dependents, estimated tax, and FICA.
Line by Line Instructions for Form 1040
This 2-hour course on Tax Updates provides 2 credit hours, and goes over changes and updates made to IRS Form 1040 and 1040-SR. We go through the forms line by line, offering advice on how to avoid mistakes and provide the best service to clients.
Basis of Assets and Depreciation
This 3-hour course on Tax Law provides 3 credit hours of training, and goes over the integral role of "basis" in property. We also cover client capital assets, and explain complicated concepts related to assets and depreciation. The course conculdes with methods for determining basis in different types of property, as well as methods that can be used for depreciation.
Ethics for Tax Advisers; Review of Circular 230
This course will satisfy the required 2 hours of Ethics for Tax Preparers and will cover the basic concepts of ethics for professional tax preparers.
This course provides 2 hours on Tax Law, and in it we give a quick refresher on the how and why of using Amended returns and then launch into how to use Amended returns for your clients.
In order to help clarify some of the more complicated concepts, a variety of IRS examples are used, supplemented with the necessary links to the various forms vital to filing an amended return, including walking your client through Form 1040-X, and correcting previously filed forms. Lastly, we will address the IRS collection process, starting with other methods for paying taxes, clients who cannot pay, and payment timelines.
This 1-hour class on Tax Law covers other forms of income. Forms of income include bartering, canceled debts, proceeds from life insurance, repayments, royalties, public assistance benefits, and more. This course represents a thorough, though not exhaustive, resource for various types of income a taxpayer may need to report.
Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) Continuing Education Requirements
If you're a tax preparer, you rely on your client's trust. Fortunately, you have an excellent way to show them you're worthy of that trust. It's the IRS's Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP), which is designed specifically for non-credentialed tax preparers.
If you want to learn more about getting and keeping your AFSP certification - including taking the right annual filing season program online courses - use this guide.
What is the Annual Filing Season Program?
With the IRS's Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP), you have a way to show that you take steps to stay up-to-date on current tax law. You get listed on the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications, too.
Basically, AFSP certification helps to legitimize you as a professional. It does require some work to get and maintain the AFSP certification, but it's worth it. And it's getting easier all the time thanks to things like annual filing season program online courses.
What are the AFSP Certification requirements?
First up, let's look at how to get AFSP certification in the first place. Really, you just need to do three things:
- Get and maintain an active preparer tax identification number (PTIN).
- Review and agree to abide by section 10.51 and Subpart B of the Treasury Department Circular No. 230. Basically, this is just saying you'll do your work diligently, legally, and ethically.
- Complete the required continuing education (which can be done easily in the form of annual filing season program online courses).
Let's dig more into that last step. To get your AFSP certification, you need to complete 18 hours of continuing education each year. But it's more than just heading to a classroom and sitting in for a few days.
When you're looking for annual filing season program online courses, you need to choose ones that meet AFSP requirements. That means the hours need to break down as follows:
- 6 hours of the Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course
- Enrolled agents are unable to receive credit from the AFTR course
- 10 hours on federal tax law
- 2 hours on ethics
Complete these 18 hours of annual filing season program online courses each year and you'll be able to get and maintain your AFSP certification.
What should I do if I already passed the Registered Tax Return Preparer exam?
If you've taken and passed the Registered Tax Return Preparer exam, you're classified as an exempt individual. That means you don't need to take the 6-hour AFTR course that non-exempt tax preparers have to complete for AFSP certification.
You do still need to take continuing education, but you'll have to finish fewer hours. As an exempt individual, you need to complete 15 hours of continuing education from an IRS-approved education provider each year. Those hours need to be distributed as follows:
Fortunately, you can take the 15 hours you need each year through annual filing season program online courses, giving you the flexibility to knock out your hours at your convenience.
If you do that, maintain your PTIN, and abide by section 10.51 and Subpart B of the Treasury Department Circular No. 230, you'll be able to get and keep your AFSP certification.
How do I get my Record of Completion?
Of course, if you're completing the steps to get AFSP certification, you'll want to have a Record of Completion to show for it. Fortunately, receiving your record is easy.
When you complete IRS-approved continuing education hours, your education provider reports those hours to the IRS with your PTIN.
Then, once the PTIN renewal season starts each October, the IRS reviews your information. Assuming you've completed the required continuing education and kept your PTIN active, the IRS generates an AFSP Record of Completion for you.
Each year, you should get an email from TaxPros@ptin.irs.gov telling you how to consent to the Circular 230 requirements we mentioned above. That email should also give you details on how to get your Record of Completion.
But that process only works if you have an online PTIN account. If you don't, you'll get a letter with this info.
What can I do with a Record of Completion for the AFSP?
As we've mentioned before, getting your AFSP certification adds you to the IRS's Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications. But that's not the only benefit you reap.
Since 2015, the IRS has made a concerted effort to encourage people to work with a credentialed, qualified tax professional for their returns. With the AFSP seal, you can show people that you're a good option for them.
Additionally, with this certification, you gain limited representation rights, helping you better serve your clients because you can represent them before the IRS. If you don't have the AFSP seal, you can still prepare tax returns, but you can't represent your clients at all. This can be a problem for client retention. If you don't want to limit yourself in your ability to help people whose returns you prepared so they'll come back to you next year, you'll need AFSP certification.
Ultimately, joining the IRS's annual filing season program gives you a way to legitimize yourself as a trustworthy, knowledgeable tax professional. And since all you need to do is comply with regulation, keep the PTIN you probably already have, and take continuing education (which you can do online), the hassle is small for a big payoff. If you haven't already secured your ASFP certification, there's no time like the present.