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!

We get questions about what is the total cost of the IRS Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) Record of Completion for Tax Preparers, and also asking "is it worth it?"

Note:  after the video was made, the IRS eliminated the cost of getting or renewing a PTIN.  Currently the only cost of getting the AFSP is the cost of your CPE courses.

Look for answers to these questions in this video:

  1. How much does it cost to be an AFSP?
  2. Are these any hidden or extra costs?
  3. Is there an annual renewal fee to maintain the AFSP each year?
  4. Is there a separate IRS charge to be listed in the IRS database of tax preparers?
  5. Is there free or cheap CPE available to use for the AFSP program?

Watch this short video to get all the cost information, and a quick analysis of the value of the AFSP.

Rather read the transcript than watch the video?

Here is the transcript of the video about "How much do you pay to get the AFSP program certificate?"

-> The question today is "How much does the AFSP cost?" or "How much do I pay to become an AFSP?"

-> Hi, I’m Carolyn Weaver with FunCPE, and this is AFSP tip #2

-> There are 3 parts to the AFSP cost.

  • The cost to obtain the required Preparer Tax ID Number or PTIN. 
  • The cost to join the IRS program and
  • The cost of the continuing professional education or “CPE” courses needed to qualify for the program.

-> Cost # 1-- (Updated) The annual cost of the PTIN is now -0- as of July 2017.  The PTIN is obtained or renewed at the IRS website.

  • You must have a valid PTIN to take your CPE courses. 
  • Then you must renew your PTIN for the following year in order to obtain the record of completion.  This means you must have a PTIN for two years, the year you take your courses, and the following year for tax season.

-> Cost # 2--Surprisingly , there is no cost to obtain the AFSP record of completion. Zero, zip, zilch.

-> Cost # 3 - At FunCPE.com , the courses for exempt preparers total $73 and for nonexempt preparers the cost is $98.

-> Who is exempt versus nonexempt?

If you are exempt, you can skip the 6 hour AFTR course, but must take a 3 hour tax update course.

If you are non-exempt, you must take the 6 hour AFTR course.  

Both exempt and non-exempt preparers must take the 2 hour ethics course and 10 hours of any Federal Tax courses.

We have packages for exempt and non-exempt to make it easy to get the right number of CE hours.

-> Am I exempt?

If you are not sure about your classification, review the list of tax preparer qualifications that make you Exempt.

-> The types of CPE accepted by the IRS are

  1. self-study and online courses,
  2. live webinars and
  3. live seminars.

-> How to find free CPE courses for AFSP requirements

If you are looking for free CPE courses, check the IRS Sponsored Continuing Education Programs website for periodic free live webinars.  The IRS does not provide CPE for their pre-recorded webinars from past presentations, so you must watch a live webinar presentation for credit. 

Also check with tax software companies who often give free live seminars. 

Some companies advertise free tax training, but verify if CPE credit is provided along with the training.

In all cases, the CPE provider must be registered with the IRS and the courses must be pre-approved by the IRS in order for you to receive credit.  You must receive a certificate of completion listing the approved IRS course number.

-> To summarize the cost of getting your AFSP record of completion:

PTIN for two years (free as of July 2017)  $-0-
FunCPE courses--nonexempt preparers  $98.00
Total cost    $98.00


-> The cost of the AFSP CPE alone will be $99.  This is equivalent to the cost of 20 double whoppers with cheese, or about 1.67 whoppers per month.

-> But is getting the AFSP a cost or benefit?

If you get one new customer as a result of having your AFSP credential and being on the IRS website listing, and that customer comes back every year for 10 years, that’s worth $500 or more. 

-> 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!

Many of our students have asked us if it is really necessary to get the IRS Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) Record of Completion.  Questions answered about the AFSP program in this video:

  1. What are the requirements to prepare tax returns? 
  2. Is it mandatory to get the AFSP this year?
  3. Do all tax preparers need to get the AFSP?
  4. What are the advantages or benefits of being in the Annual Filing Season Program?
  5. Does the IRS have other requirements to be a tax preparer?

Would you rather read the transcript of the video than watch it?

Transcript of "Is the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) necessary if you want to prepare taxes."

->The question today is “Is the AFSP designation required in order to prepare taxes?" or phrased another way, "is it mandatory to be an AFSP to be able to do taxes?”

->Hi, I’m Carolyn Weaver with FunCPE, and this is AFSP Tip #1

->The quick answer is no and yes.

->No, the AFSP record of completion is not required to prepare taxes.  You only need a valid PTIN to prepare taxes. So it is not mandatory to participate in the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) record of completion.  You can still prepare tax returns even if you do not get the AFSP.

->There is no continuing education requirement to renew your PTIN. You simply login to the IRS PTIN system

  1. Verify your personal information
  2. Answer a few questions and
  3. pay the annual renewal fee.

->Yes, the AFSP is required in certain situations.  For returns for calendar year 2016 and later, you must have your AFSP record of completion in order to have limited representation rights before the IRS.

Certificate note:  Some people refer to the AFSP record of completion as the "AFSP certificate" or "AFSP Certification." This is not the correct terminology and IRS states that the AFSP is not considered a certificate or a certification. The record of completion provides evidence that the tax preparer completed the continuing education courses and achieved passing grades on all courses.

You do receive a printable record of completion from the IRS suitable for framing.

->Limited representation rights allow you to represent clients whose returns you prepared and signed before

  • revenue agents,
  • customer service representatives,
  • Taxpayer Advocates
  • and similar employees

->The AFSP is not required for certain professionals

Enrolled Agents, CPAs, and attorneys will continue to be the only tax professionals with unlimited representation rights. 

->Unlimited representation rights means these professionals can represent their clients on any matters including audits, payment/collection issues and appeals, as well as prepare and sign tax returns.

->To summarize, many people ask "Am I required to get the AFSP and also to do required CE courses?"

No, you do not need to obtain the AFSP credential in order to prepare taxes, and there is no required CE.  You do need a valid PTIN.

Yes, you will need the AFSP to represent your clients before the IRS starting with 2016 returns.

->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!

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