A Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) is a unique number issued by the IRS. As a paid preparer, you are required to have a PTIN, and it must be renewed every year prior to the start of the tax season. Here is a quick guide to the steps, requirements, and costs associated with applying for and renewing your PTIN.
Who needs a PTIN?
A PTIN is required for anyone who prepares federal tax returns. It is also required for reporting agents who give tax advice and Enrolled Agents.
A PTIN is not required for:
- Attorneys, certified public accountants, and Enrolled Retirement plan Agents do not usually need to obtain a PTIN unless they are compensated to prepare all or substantially all of a federal tax return or claim for refund.
- VITA site preparers
Remember that the PTIN must be used as the identifying number on returns prepared. Failure to obtain and use a valid PTIN to file returns may result in section 6695 penalties and/or disciplinary action from the Office of Professional Responsibility.
How do I apply for the first time?
Prepare to begin your PTIN application by gathering the following information:
- Personal information (name, mailing address)
- Business information (name, mailing address)
- Explanations for any felony convictions
- Explanations for any problems with your U.S. individual or business tax obligations
- Any applicable U.S.-based professional certification information (CPA, attorney, enrolled agent, enrolled retirement plan agent, enrolled actuary, certified acceptance agent, or state license) including certification number, jurisdiction of issuance, and expiration date
Get started at IRS Tax Professional PTIN System by clicking on New User. The prompting will 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 with your SSN. If you do not have a Social Security number, see the FAQ to determine your eligibility and documentation requirements.
How do I renew my PTIN?
It usually takes about 15 minutes to apply for or 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 will be asked to enter the email address associated with your account and the answer to your secret question.
For those who prefer the hard copy approach, there is still the option to complete and submit a paper Form W-12 IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number Application and Renewal. It usually takes four to six weeks to process this form.
How much does it cost to renew a PTIN?
The IRS charges a fee for renewing your PTIN. The cost to renew or apply for a new PTIN is $21, plus an additional $14.95 fee for processing and related services ($35.95 total).
How do I check the status of my PTIN?
You will receive most correspondence through the secure messaging portal in your PTIN account. Use an email address that you check frequently when obtaining your PTIN to ensure that you receive your messages.
For questions regarding the status of your PTIN or to manage your account, log in to the IRS Tax Professional PTIN System.
This article is up to date for tax year 2021.