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AFSP CE Requirements

What is the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP)?

The IRS started the Annual Filing Season Program in July 2014. The purpose of the program is to encourage all non-credentialed (not EA/CPA/Attorney) tax preparers to take continuing education (CE) courses so that they are better prepared to work in the tax preparation industry. The AFSP is voluntary, but there are certain benefits to participating, as well as restrictions if you do not participate.

In 2012, the IRS created the Registered Tax Return Preparer Program (RTRP) in an effort to accomplish similar goals of requiring education for all tax preparers. The RTRP program was discontinued in January 2013.  If you took and passed the RTRP exam before it was discontinued, you are recognized for your advanced tax knowledge and receive the benefit of being considered exempt from the Annual Tax Refresher Course (AFTR).  View the types of tax preparers who are "exempt" here.

The IRS is trying to get legislation passed to allow competency testing and required CE for all tax preparers, and the AFSP program is seen as an interim measure to encourage tax education for all tax preparers.

CE Credit Hours Required for calendar years 2018 and beyond


Status Annual Federal
Tax Refresher
Tax Law

Tax Law



Non-Exempt 6 0 10 2 18
Exempt 0 3 10 2 15


Non-Exempt (need 18 hours) - FunCPE Tax Package #6

  • 6 CE hours - Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) Course
  • 2 CE hours - Ethics
  • 10 CE hours - Federal tax law (any other Federal tax course besides AFTR course and Ethics course)

Exempt (need 15 hours) - FunCPE Tax Package #5

  • 3 CE hours - Tax law update
  • 2 CE hours - Ethics
  • 10 CE hours - Federal tax law updates (any other Federal tax course besides update course and Ethics course)

Are you exempt or non-exempt?  

Find out which category you are in here.  The only difference in CE requirements is the non-exempt tax preparers have to take the 6 hour AFTR course, while the exempt tax preparers take the 3 hour tax update course.  The AFTR course is a timed 3 hour exam with 100 randomly selected questions, in accordance with IRS regulations.

When should I take my CPE courses for the AFSP Record of Completion credential?

The IRS requirement for CPE sponsors is to only offer the AFTR course in the second half of the year.  As a result, our AFTR course is available on our site from June 1st to December 31st

All other CPE courses besides the AFTR course can be taken at any time during the year, but must be completed by December 31st. 

How can I be sure these are the right courses to take?

The IRS recognizes four categories of courses

Tax Law Update CE credits: this is a specific category of tax courses in the IRS system. The course should be labelled "Tax Update" or "Federal Tax Law Update."

Ethics CE credits: this is also a specific category in the IRS reporting system. The course is described as in the "Ethics" category.

Annual Federal Tax Refresher Course: This is a single courses that covers a specific outline of topics prescribed by the IRS. This course has very well-defined testing requirements as well as material.  This course is not accepted for credit for Enrolled Agents, as they are required to take more advanced courses.

Federal Tax Law CE credits: This is a general category for the IRS classification, that includes any Federal Tax law CE course, other than a Tax Update or the Annual Federal Tax Refresher Course.  You can select any of the courses from our Tax Courses sections for your Federal Tax Law CE credits, except the Annual Federal Tax Refresher Course.

question about CE courses required

Questions?  Feel free to call or email us if you are not sure which courses to take.

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.