PITTSBURGH — The Internal Revenue Service is reminding Pennsylvania’s 27,000 federal tax return preparers that they must renew their Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTINs) for 2014. All current PTINs will expire on Dec. 31, 2013.
Anyone who, for compensation, prepares or helps prepare any federal return or claim for refund must have a valid PTIN from the IRS. The PTIN must be used as the identifying number on returns prepared.
“We ask that you renew your PTIN as soon as possible to avoid a last-minute rush. It’s easy to let this slip as the holiday season approaches,” said Carol A. Campbell, Director, IRS Return Preparer Office.
The PTIN system is ready to accept applications for 2014. The U.S. has about 690,000 federal tax return preparers who need to annually renew their PTINs.
For those who already have a 2013 PTIN, the renewal process can be completed online and only takes a few moments. The renewal fee is $63. Online tools are available for those who have forgotten their user ID and password. Preparers can get started at www.irs.gov/ptin.
For those who are registering for the first time, the PTIN application fee is $64.25 and the process may also be completed online.
Form W-12, IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number Application and Renewal, is available for paper applications and renewals, but takes four to six weeks to process. Failure to have and use a valid PTIN may result in penalties. All enrolled agents, regardless of whether they prepare returns, must have a PTIN in order to maintain their status.
A number of enhancements have been made to the online PTIN system since last year. They include:
· Preparers can self-correct almost any field at any time (including professional credentials) using the fully functional "Manage My Account" tool. Previously, most changes had to be made during renewal. A phone call was required for users to make changes during the rest of the year. However, for security reasons, name changes still require written documentation.
· Preparers can now view completed continuing education programs reported by IRS-approved providers beginning with 2013 courses. Providers report completed CE programs to the IRS based on your PTIN number. Enrolled agents must have a minimum of 16 CE hours annually and a total of 72 hours every three years. Others can also view voluntary programs completed. If something is missing, contact your provider directly as we only display what providers send to us.
· Certain preparers who plan to take a full year off from work can voluntarily inactivate their PTINs, then reactivate the same number when they return to work. Those who are paid to prepare tax returns during any part of a year must have a valid PTIN. Note: Enrolled agents must maintain a valid PTIN each year in order to maintain their EA credential and therefore are not eligible to inactivate their PTIN.
The IRS recently upgraded the PTIN system’s capacity. “This should result in improved performance for tax professionals seeking to renew their PTINs,” said Jennifer Jenkins, IRS spokesperson for west and west central Pennsylvania. “If you can, avoid accessing the system during the peak hours of 1-4 p.m. EST. If the system is slow, try a little later, but not so much later that you’re running up against the deadline.”
For more information about requirements for federal tax professionals and access to the online PTIN system, go to www.irs.gov/for-Tax-Pros.