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Enrolled Agents are responsible for verifying that the CE hours earned have been properly reported to their PTIN account. If you have taken any CE courses during the quarter, you should login to your IRS PTIN account at the end of that quarter to verify that the hours have been correctly posted to your account.

As discussed in the section on Courses Do Not Get Reported to the IRS, there are a number of things that can happen that cause your hours to not get reported. In addition to the problems discussed in that section, courses that were taken for an invalid subject matter will also not be reported because they will not have an IRS course number associated with them.

What if my hours don’t get reported to the IRS?

Let’s say you don’t notice right away that your hours were not reported. You used an email address that you don’t check very often when you took your course and you didn’t read the notice from the CE provider that the hours were rejected. It’s now been two years since you took the course, and it’s past the cut off date when the CE provider could still submit hours to that calendar year.

All is not lost. The IRS still primarily relies on your self reporting of CE hours earned, when you submit your EA license renewal Form 8554. You should, of course, retain all CE records for the required five year period after date of course completion. If you are selected for a CE audit, you will be required to provide copies of your CE certificates. If you took your courses from FunCPE, you have lifetime access to get copies of your CPE certificates.

The IRS just started the required CPE reporting to the PTIN system in 2012, and the system became fully operational in 2013. As we move forward, we expect the IRS to more stringently monitor the CPE reporting to each EAs PTIN account. Any noted deficiency in the hours reported to your PTIN account will possibly trigger an automatic IRS CE audit in the future.

The IRS requires approved CPE providers to report credits earned on a periodic basis to the IRS PTIN reporting system. The reporting schedule required is as follows:

 Credits earned: Should be reported by:
 January 1 - March 31 March 31
 April 1 - June 30 June 30
 July 1 - September 30 September 30
November 1 - December 31 Within 10 days of course completion
Note:  there is a 10-day grace period at the end of each quarter

This reporting schedule insures that courses taken in the last quarter of the year are promptly reported. At the end of each of the first 3 quarters of the year, the 10-day grace period allows the provider to report the courses completed on the last day of the quarter, for example within 10 days.

FunCPE routinely electronically reports all courses completed every Monday for the week just ended the prior Sunday (i.e. the Sunday before that Monday). The IRS takes anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to post the credits reported to your PTIN account.

What can go wrong with the CPE credit reporting?

Quite a few things can go wrong in the process of reporting the courses completed to the IRS PTIN system. When we report your credits, your first name, last name and PTIN number must match what is in the IRS PTIN system exactly. The types of errors we commonly see are:

  1. Typos in the name or PTIN
  2. PTIN entered in the wrong format or not enough digits entered. The must be in the format of the letter “P” followed by eight numbers, for example “P12345678.”
  3. An EA number is entered instead of the PTIN
  4. Name change has occurred, usually due to marriage or divorce, and the name entered in our course system does not match the name and the PTIN system

Fun CPE automatically sends an email to the student using the student’s email address in our course system, if records submitted to the IRS PTIN system are rejected.

Compounding the error, students sometimes use an email address in our course system that is not an email address they check frequently.  We sometimes have a large number of items that are never corrected by the student, and in fact even after repeated attempts to contact the student, we never receive any response.

Reporting corrections

We can report a correction to your reported CPE at any time during the year. Corrections can be reported for either the current year or the immediately prior year.

Here is an example of CPE that was reported, rejected and resubmitted:

  • 06/05/15 course completed
  • 06/08/15 CPE reported
  • 06/08/15 CPE submission is rejected by PTIN system
  • 06/08/15 email notification of rejection sent to student
  • 08/15/15 student sends correction
  • 08/17/15 CPE resubmitted to PTIN system

Deadline for reporting corrections

After 12/31/15 we would be unable to submit CPE earned in 2014.

How can I prevent these reporting errors?

We recommend to every student that after first enrolling, and every time they sign up for a new course or courses, they verify the information in their student profile.  Check the spelling of your first and last name, the PTIN you have entered and your email address.  

When you first enroll in a course, it is a good idea to login to your PTIN account at the IRS website to view the name you have recorded in the PTIN system.  You must enter your name exactly as it is when you create your user profile.  We use only your first and last name, so anything entered in the "middle name" field is ignored for PTIN reporting.  Any suffixes (Jr, Sr etc) should be entered after your last name, with no punctuation.

Read Mistake #6:
EA fails to review PTIN account

 

One way a course might not be accepted for your continuing education requirements for your EA renewal, is if the course you have taken is not considered an acceptable subject area. What is considered acceptable for one type of license or credential might not be acceptable for another.

CPAs for example, can take courses in 23 different subject matter areas. Many CPE providers, including FunCPE offer courses for CPAs, EAs and many other professionals. So you will see courses on the website that are valid for CPAs but not valid for EAs.

The courses on our site are clearly marked which licenses and professions they are valid for, but you do need to be aware of the restrictions.

Enrolled Agent acceptable subject areas

EAs can only take courses for credit that are either federal tax related or ethics. EAs must take two hours of ethics per year, and any ethics hours obtained over two hours are not counted towards the total CPE requirement. So EA’s must take two hours of ethics per year, no more, no less.

In the past the IRS would accept access ethics hours towards the general federal tax requirement. This is no longer the case. Due to the specialized CPE reporting now required by the CPE providers, the IRS system cannot accommodate counting access ethics hours towards the general requirement.  As a result, if you take more than 2 hours of ethics per calendar year, any hours over the 2 hour requirement will not provide any CPE credit to you.

Examples of unacceptable subject areas for EA credit

State tax. EAs cannot take state tax courses for credit; for example an EA cannot take a course covering California state income tax. An IRS FAQ on CE programs states that “a program that covers state tax law issues will not qualify for IRS continuing education credit unless at least 80% of the program material consists of a comparison between federal and state tax laws.” Generally speaking very few, if any, state law courses will qualify for EA CE credit.

Annual Federal Tax Refresher course. Note that an EA cannot receive CPE credit for the Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course offered to tax preparers. This six-hour course is considered too basic for EAs.

Accounting and auditing. We have noticed a common error is for EAs to enroll in accounting and auditing courses, thinking that these courses would be acceptable by the IRS. These courses are not appropriate for EA CPE renewal credit, and although you can take these courses, they do not provide CPE credit for EAs and they are not reported to the IRS.

Read Mistake #3:
Course format is not acceptable

Enrolled agents are required to complete CE hours as follows:

  • 72 hours during their three year renewal cycle
  • 16 hours minimum per year

Excess hours taken in a single year

This means that if you take more than 40 hours during any one year you cannot carry over the excess hours to the next year. Here’s an example of how that would work:

  • 16 hours Year 1
  • 50 hours Year 2
  • 16 hours Year 3

Out of the 50 hours completed in Year 2 only 40 hours will count towards your CPE requirement, because your total hours exceed the 72 hour total required for the three-year period, after you complete the minimum of 16 hours in the other two years.

Hours taken in the wrong calendar year

EA CPE must be completed on a calendar year basis. In other words, Year 1, Year 2 and Year 3 of your CPE cycle are each from January 1 to December 31.

A common mistake is to look at your EA enrollment card, and see that the expiration date is March 31st. An EA may incorrectly conclude that they have until March 31 to complete their courses.

When you review the expiration date of your EA credential, your three-year cycle ends on the December 31 prior to the March 31 expiration date. Your renewal application is due January 31. This gives the IRS two months to process your renewal application and mail you a new card before your current card expires.

Initial enrollment period timing errors

The initial enrollment period is the time right after you get your EA card and before your have completed your first renewal application.  This period can be anywhere from 2 months to 3 years and 2 months long.  

Some new EAs think their renewal period is 3 years from the date the card is issued, but that is not the case.  The initial enrollment period ends on December 31st of a year, and that year is determined by the last digit of your social security number.  Your EA card will have an expiration date of March 31, 201X, and your first enrollment period ends on the December 31st prior to this March 31, 201X date.

The initial enrollment period is somewhat confusing and if you are a new Enrolled Agent, you should review the initial enrollment period CE guidelines here.

Read Mistake #5:
CE Courses are not reported to the IRS


EAs are regulated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on a national basis. In other words EA’s in every state are subject to the same IRS regulations. The IRS requires CPE providers to register annually by December 31st for the following year. IRS CPE providers agree to follow the IRS CPE regulations and to report all valid CPE earned by any PTIN holder to the IRS.

Things to look for:

IRS CE Provider number

Providers are issued an IRS CPE provider number. Additionally, each course is submitted to the IRS and issued an IRS course number. This IRS course number is used for reporting the course completions to the IRS and must be printed on the certificate of completion issued to the student.

IRS Approved CE Provider logo

The IRS provides a logo to approved CPE providers that can be displayed on a website or printed material.  Examples of the logo:

IRS approval of CE provider for EA CE   Approved as an IRS CE provider

 

IRS listing of approved CE Providers

The IRS maintains an online list of approved CE providers here:

http://www.irs.gov/Tax-Professionals/Continuing-Education-for-Tax-Professionals

Can't find the provider you are looking for on the IRS listing?

Keep in mind that the CE Provider's website name can be different from the company name.

To avoid bias, the list of approved CE providers is in random order when you first go to this page on the website.

  • You can click on the headings to sort the list in provider order, for example, to find a particular provider.
  • Or you can use control F on your keyboard to bring up a search box, and enter a provider name there.

What about tax preparer state licensing?

The following states require tax preparers to be licensed by the state:

  • California
  • Maryland
  • Oregon
  • New York

Generally, Enrolled Agents, CPAs and Attorneys are exempt from the state specific tax preparer licensing.

Enrolled agent education is subject to IRS regulation on a nationwide basis. Therefore it doesn’t matter what state your CPE provider is located in or whether or not they are approved providers for a specific state.

Read Mistake # 2:
CE courses are not for an approved subject area

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