How to Obtain and Renew Your PTIN

As a professional tax preparer, you must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) from the IRS to perform paid tax preparation, filing, claim, and refund paperwork for clients. Here is a quick guide to the steps, requirements, and costs associated with how to get a PTIN and how to renew it once you have one. 

What is a PTIN? 

So, what does PTIN stand for? A Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) is a unique number issued by the IRS to professional tax preparers. The IRS requires paid tax preparers to obtain a PTIN and stay on top of PTIN renewal. As a paid tax preparer, you must renew your PTIN every year before starting the new tax filing season.  

Who needs a PTIN? 

The IRS requires anyone who professionally prepares federal tax returns to get a PTIN. Reporting agents who provide tax advice and enrolled agents must also obtain PTINs.  

However, different types of professionals may provide tax guidance and advice who are not required to obtain a PTIN:  

  • Attorneys, certified public accountants, and enrolled retirement plan agents do not usually need a PTIN unless clients compensate them for preparing all or substantially all of a federal tax return. 
  • VITA site preparers do not need a PTIN. 

Remember, you must use your PTIN as the identifying number on the returns you prepare. Failure to obtain and use a valid PTIN or renew your PTIN may result in section 6695 penalties and/or disciplinary action from the Office of Professional Responsibility. 

How to apply for a PTIN 

If you’re wondering how to get a PTIN, your first step should be gathering necessary documentation for the application process, which will include the following:  

  • Your personal information (name, mailing address) 
  • Your business information (name, mailing address) 
  • Explanations for any felony convictions if you have them 
  • Explanations for any problems with your U.S. individual or business tax obligations 
  • Certification information for any applicable U.S.-based professional services you offer, including as a CPA, attorney, enrolled agent, enrolled retirement plan agent, enrolled actuary, or certified acceptance agent as well as any state licensure you hold. Be sure to include your certification number, jurisdiction of issuance, and expiration date when you apply to get a PTIN.  

Begin your initial PTIN application or PTIN renewal with the IRS Tax Professional PTIN System by selecting “Renew or Register.” You’ll receive a prompt to help you set up an account with a user ID and temporary password that you will change when logging in for the first time. You can sign up using your Social Security number (SSN). If you do not have an SSN, see the FAQs to determine your eligibility and documentation requirements for obtaining a PTIN

How to renew a PTIN 

If you need a PTIN renewal, it takes about 15 minutes to renew your PTIN online. If you can’t remember your login credentials, use the “Forgot User ID” or “Forgot Password” links on the PTIN system login page. You must enter the email address associated with your PTIN account and the answer to your secret question. 

If you prefer to apply for a PTIN or PTIN renewal by mail, you can complete and submit a paper Form W-12 IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number Application and Renewal. The IRS usually processes this form in four to six weeks. 

How much does it cost to renew a PTIN? 

The cost for PTIN renewal or to apply for a new PTIN is $19.75. This fee is non-refundable. 

How long does it take to get a PTIN?  

You can submit your PTIN application as early as mid-October each year. If you apply for your PTIN online, you may be able to obtain it within 15 minutes, but it will take about four to six weeks for the IRS to process an application submitted by mail. If you want to check the status of your initial PTIN or PTIN renewal application, you can manage your account by logging in to the IRS Tax Professional PTIN System

When should you apply for your PTIN? 

The IRS makes applications available mid-October for applying for an initial PTIN or PTIN renewal for that calendar year’s taxes. So if you successfully apply for a PTIN or PTIN renewal in October 2024, you’ll be eligible to prepare taxes for clients for the 2024 tax year.  

How long is a PTIN valid? 

Once you receive your PTIN or PTIN renewal, it will be valid for one year. That means it will expire December 31st of the tax year for which you applied. You will need to renew your PTIN each year for $19.75.  

Becoming a paid tax preparer allows you to work independently in your own small business. If you’d like to learn more about how to become a paid tax preparer and what steps you need to take to get a PTIN, check out TaxSlayer Pro’s online tax preparer demo

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