The Tax Preparer’s Guide to Continuing Education Credits

A group of professional tax preparers attend a forum

Continuing education credits are vital for renewing your tax certifications and staying up to date on the latest tax laws. In this guide, we’re answering the most frequently asked questions about continuing education for tax professionals.

Do all tax preparers need continuing education credits?

Most credentialed tax preparers need some form of continuing education to keep their certification current. 

  • Enrolled Agents need 72 hours of continuing education credits (CECs) every three years, with a minimum of 16 hours earned each year.
  • Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) participants need 18 hours of CECs every year
  • CPAs need specialized credits called Continuing Professional Education (CPE). Exact requirements vary by state. While some CECs for tax professionals fulfill CPE requirements, others will not. According to the IRS, “CPAs, attorneys and others licensed by state boards/organizations should check with their respective boards/organizations to determine if credit applies toward their continuing education requirements.”
  • PTIN holders with no other credentials are not required to earn CECs but can still improve their tax knowledge and grow their business with continuing education.

For more details on continuing education requirements for Enrolled Agents and AFSP participants, read Tax Preparer Continuing Education.

Where can I get tax preparer CECs?

Tax preparers can obtain CECs from any IRS-approved continuing education provider, many of which hold annual conferences or online classes. To find one near you, sort the list by state.

Some of our most trusted providers of tax preparation courses and resources include:

Can I obtain tax preparer CECs online?

There are plenty of opportunities to earn CECs online, especially in 2020. Due to COVID-19, many tax professional organizations have canceled their in-person conferences in favor of online seminars. Both the IRS Nationwide Tax Forums and TaxSlayer Pro’s Annual Seminar will be held virtually this year.  

The IRS Nationwide Tax Forums Online is another trusted resource for online CECs. This IRS-sponsored CE provider creates online tax courses based on lectures from previous IRS Nationwide Tax Forums. 

What types of CECs should I take?

CECs cover a host of topics from new tax laws to retirement plans to helping your clients avoid scammers. Generally, you should take whatever credits interest you most and are most relevant to your business and clients. 

Enrolled Agents and AFSP participants are required to take at least two hours of ethics-related CE each year. AFSP participants are also required to take a 6 hour Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course each year between June 1 and December 31.

How do I report my CECs to the IRS?

Simply provide your name and PTIN (Preparer Tax Identification Number) to the continuing education provider. Upon completion of the credit, the provider must report your credits to the IRS. When you login to your PTIN account, you’ll be able to see any reported credits.