AFSP Tax Law Update Course Requirements

 

Tax preparers who are classified as "Exempt" are exempt from taking the Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course as part of obtaining the IRS Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) credential.  See Am I Exempt or Non-Exempt? for further clarification.  Instead of taking the AFTR course, however, they are required to take a Tax Law Update course.

Who can take tax law update courses for credit

Exempt tax preparers

Although you are exempt from taking the 6 hour AFTR course, Exempt preparers must complete a 3 hour Federal tax law update course, in addition to completing 10 hours of any Federal tax law subject courses and a 2 hour tax ethics course.

Enrolled Agents

Enrolled Agents (EA) can take any amount of tax update courses for credit, and it will apply towards their annual minimum CPE requirements.

Non-exempt tax preparers

Non-exempt preparers should not take tax update courses.  These courses duplicate some of the content in the 6 hour AFTR course.

How the Federal tax law update course is reported

CPE providers are required to obtain a course number from the IRS for any IRS CE course offered. The course number should be printed on your certificate of completion.

IRS course numbers look like this:

FAE6R-U-00122-16-S 

The components to the course number are:

FAE6R CE Provider number (for FunCPE)
U Update
00122 Course number
16 First year course offered
S Self-study

 When you login to your IRS PTIN account to check your reported CE hours, the Tax Update courses are reported separately.

 

Problems with taking more than 3 hours of Tax Update courses

The IRS states in an FAQ that any excess tax law update hours will count towards your general Federal Tax law course hours:

"11. What if a preparer has more federal tax update credits than is required for the federal tax law update category in any one calendar year?
The excess federal tax update credit will count toward their federal tax law requirement for that particular calendar year. The PTIN system will automatically apply the excess credit hours to the federal tax law category, although the excess will still show in the PTIN holder’s Federal Tax Update category in the preparer’s online account."

 But students have reported that after taking 4-5 hour tax update courses from other CPE providers:

Our recommendation

Our recommendation is that you not expect any extra hours to count towards your total.  Play it safe and take extra general Federal Tax hours to make sure you meet the 10 hour general tax law hours requirement for exempt preparers. 

You should monitor your PTIN account to make sure hours get reported and your get the AFSP notice.  Normally you should get the AFSP notice within 7-10 days of completing all your required CPE.