AFSP stands for Annual Filing Season Program which is a program offered by IRS in the United States. This program has aim to encourage tax return preparers who are not enrolled agents, attorneys, or certified public accountants to participate in continuing education courses and to stay up-to-date with the latest changes in tax laws and regulations.

What is the Annual Filing Season Program?

The Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) is a voluntary program offered by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the United States. It is designed to encourage or admire tax return preparers who have not enrolled agents, attorneys, or certified public accountants to participate in continuing education courses. They will be able to stay up-to-date with the latest changes in tax laws and regulations.

Is AFSP participation mandatory?

Participation in the AFSP is not mandatory, but it is recommended for tax return preparers who do not hold professional credentials and wish to improve their skills and knowledge. The program consists of a set of continuing education courses and a tax compliance check, which includes a background check and a tax return preparer database search.

What is AFSP certification?

You must know AFSP certification, you will be certified after completing the program. Tax return preparers can obtain an Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion, which is a way to show their clients and potential clients that they have voluntarily taken steps to enhance their tax knowledge and expertise. However, it is important to note that the AFSP does not constitute an official credential or professional designation.

What are the requirements for IRS AFSP?

As you know, The Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) is a voluntary program offered by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to recognize and promote the ongoing tax education of non-credentialed tax preparers.

To obtain an AFSP Record of Completion, a tax preparer must meet the following requirements:

  1. Obtain an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN).
  2. Complete at least 18 hours of continuing education (CE) each year from IRS-approved providers. The CE must include six hours of federal tax law updates, two hours of ethics, and ten hours of other federal tax law topics.
  3. Pass a test covering the federal tax laws and regulations related to Form 1040 preparation. This test is the Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course, and it covers tax law updates and other tax law topics.
  4. Renew your AFSP Record of Completion annually by meeting the CE requirements and passing the AFTR course.
  5. It’s important to note that the AFSP Record of Completion does not constitute any type of IRS credential or authority to practice before the IRS. It is simply a voluntary program that recognizes tax preparers who have completed certain education and testing requirements.

Can I participate in the AFSP?

If you are tax preparers who are not attorneys, Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), or Enrolled Agents (EAs) can participate in the AFSP program. This includes, for example, tax preparers who work for tax preparation firms or who are self-employed.

However, there are some eligibility requirements that must be met in order to participate in the AFSP program. Specifically, the tax preparer must:

  1. Obtain an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN).
  2. Complete at least 18 hours of continuing education (CE) each year from IRS-approved providers. The CE must include six hours of federal tax law updates, two hours of ethics, and ten hours of other federal tax law topics.
  3. Pass a test covering the federal tax laws and regulations related to Form 1040 preparation. This test is the Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course, and it covers tax law updates and other tax law topics.

When did the IRS establish the Annual Filing Season Program?

The Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) was established by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in 2014. The program was created in response to a court ruling that struck down the IRS’s authority to regulate tax return preparers.

YearAnnual Filing Season Program
2014Established by the IRS
2015Second year of the program
2016Third year of the program
2017Fourth year of the program
2018Fifth year of the program
2019Sixth year of the program
2020Seventh year of the program
2021Eighth year of the program
2022Ninth year of the program
2023Tenth year of the program

As you can see from the table, the IRS established the Annual Filing Season Program in 2014, and the program has continued to operate every year since then.

What is the difference between AFSP and PTIN?

These are the differences between the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) and Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN):

BasisAFSP PTIN
Full formAnnual Filing Season ProgramPreparer Tax Identification Number
What is it?A voluntary IRS program that recognizes tax preparers who meet certain education and testing requirements.A number issued by the IRS to tax preparers for identification purposes.
EligibilityMost tax preparers who are not attorneys or CPAs are eligible to participate in the AFSP program.All paid tax preparers who prepare tax returns for clients are required to have a PTIN.
RequirementsTax preparers must complete 18 hours of continuing education each year, including a six-hour Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course and 10 hours of other federal tax law topics. They must also pass an exam on the AFTR course material.Tax preparers are required to obtain a PTIN by registering with the IRS and providing personal information and credentials. No education or testing is required.
BenefitsCompleting the AFSP program can help demonstrate a tax preparer’s competency and professionalism to clients and potential clients. It can also help tax preparers stay up to date on important tax law changes and updates.Having a PTIN is required for all paid tax preparers who prepare tax returns for clients. It allows the IRS to track who is preparing tax returns and to communicate with tax preparers.
ValidityAFSP certification is valid for one year. Tax preparers must complete the continuing education requirements each year to maintain their certification.A PTIN is valid indefinitely as long as the tax preparer continues to meet the registration requirements and updates their information as needed.

What are the best annual filing season program courses?

Here are IRS-approved AFSP course providers that are highly regarded in the industry:

  1. Lambers-It has expanded its tools to help students succeed. Today, Lambers is used worldwide for a wide range of test preparer’s needs.
  2. The Income Tax School – The Income Tax School offers a variety of AFSP courses that are designed to help tax preparers meet the requirements for the program. Their courses cover a range of topics, from tax law updates to specialized tax issues for different types of clients. They offer both online and in-person courses.
  3. Fast Forward Academy – Fast Forward Academy offers a comprehensive AFSP course that covers all of the required topics and provides plenty of practice opportunities. Their course is available online and includes video lectures, interactive quizzes, and study guides.
  4. Western CPE – Western CPE offers a variety of AFSP courses that are designed for tax preparers who need to meet the program’s requirements. Their courses cover a range of topics, including ethics, tax law updates, and specialized tax issues. They offer both online and in-person courses.
  5. Surgent CPE – Surgent CPE offers a comprehensive AFSP course that covers all of the required topics and provides plenty of practice opportunities. Their course is available online and includes video lectures, interactive quizzes, and study guides.
  6. The Tax College – The Tax College offers a variety of AFSP courses that are designed to help tax preparers meet the requirements for the program. Their courses cover a range of topics, from tax law updates to specialized tax issues for different types of clients. They offer both online and in-person courses.

What is the validity of the AFSP certificate?

The AFSP program certification is valid for one year. Tax preparers must complete the continuing education requirements each year to maintain their certification.

How do I find IRS-approved AFSP courses??

The IRS maintains a list of approved providers and courses on their website. Tax preparers can search for courses by topic, location, or provider to find courses that meet the AFSP requirements.

What is the cost of the AFSP program?

You must know the cost of the AFSP program varies depending on the provider and the courses you choose to take. Some courses are free, while others may cost several hundred dollars. However, the cost of participating in the AFSP program may be tax-deductible as a business expense

How do I register for the Annual Filing Season Program?

You must first have a valid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Once you have a PTIN, you can search for IRS-approved providers and courses on the IRS website and register for the courses that meet the AFSP requirements to participate in the AFSP program,

Faqs on AFSP

1. Is AFSP free?

Each IRS-approved CE provider will determine the course participant fee for all CE courses. However, the IRS does not charge any fee for participating in the program.

2. What is true regarding the IRS Annual Filing Season Program?

The Annual Filing Season Program aims to recognize the efforts of non-credentialed return preparers who aspire to a higher level of professionalism. Those who choose to participate can meet the requirements by obtaining 18 hours of continuing education, including a six-hour federal tax law refresher course with a test.

3. What is AFSP certified?

Tax return preparers can obtain an Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion certificate. After completing and getting certification, They will be able to call AFSP Certified.

4. Who is exempt from AFSP?

Some unenrolled preparers are exempt from the AFTR course requirement because of their completion of other recognized state or national competency tests.
These exempt groups still need to meet other program requirements, including 15 CE credits (10 Federal Tax Laws, 3 Federal Tax Law Updates, and 2 Ethics).

5. What is the Asfp for IRS?

The Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) is a voluntary program by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to recognize and promote the ongoing tax education of non-credentialed tax preparers.

6. Is IRS AFSP compulsory?

No, It is voluntary.

7. How do I know if a course is approved by the IRS for the AFSP program?

The IRS maintains a list of approved providers and courses on their website. Before enrolling in a course, you should verify the course approval by checking the IRS website or contacting the course provider.

By larry Brown

A senior accountant, and banking & finance expert, with five years long experience in banking, finance, Investment, and money management.

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