The IRS designed this program to allow tax preparers to voluntarily take this program which will give them knowledge and skills that will be valuable to their clients. This will prove to taxpayers that you took the time to broaden your knowledge to meet their needs. You will also be eligible to be listed in the official IRS database of acknowledged preparers which will also include CPAs, EAs and attorneys. According to the IRS this database will be live on the IRS website in January 2015. There are several requirements for continuing education (CE) that need to be met prior to obtaining a record of completion from the IRS.
2015 Requirements for AFSP Record of Completion include a total of 11 hours DE from IRS approved providers. The 11 hours entails the following:
- Six hour Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course
- Two hour Tax Ethics CE Course
- Three hour Tax Law CE Course
- Have a valid 2015 PTIN
These requirements are prorated for 2015 and can take up to four weeks following completion of all requirements to receive a Record of Completion and be placed on the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparer. The deadline to complete AFSP for the 2015 tax season is December 31, 2014. The AFSP certificate will be valid for one year and moving forward will need to be completed each year after by the December 31st of the prior year. The cost of the program is not set and varies based on the continuing education provider.
Additional benefits of completing the AFSP Program include
- Beginning in 2016 you will have select IRS representation rights for their clients when they complete and sign their returns
- You will be able to advertise your qualifications, such as adding “AFSP Record of Completion” on your business cards, website and literature
Overall, we think there needs to be a program in place. Is this the right program or does the IRS have the authority to create these programs? Well that’s not up to us. At UTS we believe that all preparers should be knowledgeable and have a great annual educational system. The more you know about taxes the better your clients will appreciate you.