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#3 What is the AFSP program?

Wondering what the term "AFSP" means? Watch the video to get a quick overview describing what the IRS Annual Federal Filing Season Program or "AFSP" is.

This video answers the typical questions about the IRS AFSP program:

  1. What is the AFSP?
  2. Why did the IRS create the Annual Filing Season Program?
  3. Is the AFSP a replacement for the discontinued Registered Tax Return Preparer (RTRP) program?
  4. When did the AFSP start?
  5. Will I get a certificate if I complete the AFSP requirements?
  6. Is the AFSP voluntary or required?
  7. What are the deadlines for the AFSP CE courses?
  8. What are the CE course requirements for getting the AFSP Record of Completion?


-> The question today is what is the Annual Filing Season Program or “AFSP.”

-> Hi, I’m Carolyn Weaver with FunCPE, and this is AFSP tip #3

-> The AFSP was established by the IRS in 2014. The program is intended to provide recognition to tax preparers who keep up with tax law changes through continuing education.

This new program essentially replaced the Registered Tax Return Preparer (RTRP) program that the IRS announced in November 2011 and suspended in January 2013.  The main difference between the two programs is 

  • AFSP is voluntary, not required
    • AFSP is completely voluntary, although you do receive additional rights and recognition
    • RTRP was required to prepare taxes
  • AFSP does not have a test at an independent testing center
    • AFSP does not have a comprehensive test, although it does have required continuing education or CE
    • RTRP required exams were administered at an independent testing facility
  • AFSP is not a certificate program
    • AFSP completion earns you an IRS Record of Completion, but it is not called a certificate and you cannot use the term "certified"
    • RTRP completion you did receive a Registered Tax Return Preparer certificate

-> The AFSP program is voluntary, but it does provide some advantages to participants.

If you complete the AFSP requirements you will:
• be listed on the IRS website as a tax preparer with credentials
• have some additional representation rights

-> Requirement #1: you must have a valid PTIN or preparer tax ID number prior to starting your CE. CE or CPE means continuing professional education.

-> Requirement #2: all CE must be completed by December 31st.

-> Requirement #3: CE courses must be taken from an IRS approved provider. Most approved CE providers will display the IRS approved continuing education provider logo, which makes it easy to verify.

-> The required courses for nonexempt preparers are:

1. An annual federal tax refresher or AFTR course-six hours
2. Ethics course-two hours
3. Other federal tax courses totaling 10 hours. These other federal tax courses can be on any subject under the federal tax law umbrella.

-> If you are an exempt preparer you don’t have to take the six hour AFTR course but instead you have to take a three-hour tax update course. So the required courses are:

1. Tax update-three hours
2. Ethics-two hours
3. Other federal tax courses totaling 10 hours

-> FunCPE submits your completed courses automatically to the IRS.

-> As soon as you have completed all your required courses, the IRS starts a three-step process.

-> Step 1: you receive an email from the IRS asking you if you would like to participate in the program.

-> Step 2: you reply to the email, agreeing to follow the Circular 230 rules.

-> Step 3: the IRS send you an email telling you that you can now download and print your AFSP Record of Completion.

-> Would YOU like to get your AFSP?

We’d love to see you on our website at funcpe.com.
And we take the low stress approach:

• Easy course system
• Unlimited free retakes and
• Live telephone support

So,— preview our courses-and put some FUN in your CPE!

Yes we report your CE hours to the IRS We do report your CE hours earned to the IRS electronically.  We are an approved IRS CPE provider for Enrolled Agents and Tax Preparers.

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Which courses should I take for AFSP CPE?

As per the rules outlined by the IRS, qualifying Annual Filing Season Program CPE must be in the areas of:

  • Federal Tax Law (all AFSP)
  • Ethics (all AFSP)
  • Tax Law Update (exempt)
  • Annual Federal Tax Refresher/AFTR (non-exempt) This course only available June 1 to December 31 each year.

All FunCPE  tax courses qualify for AFSP Federal Tax Law CPE. Our ethics courses qualify for all required AFSP ethics CE.  *BUT* there are specific tax course requirements depending on whether you are Exempt or Non-Exempt.

You can:

Sign up for a tax package which includes ethics:

~ or ~

Select your individual courses using the Exempt or Non-Exempt requirements:

FunCPE exams are available online 24/7 to help you meet your CPE requirements on time. 

The Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) 6 hour course is only available June 1 to December 31 of each year, in accordance with IRS requirements.  All courses must be completed by December 31st in order to receive the AFSP designation.