History and Background of the IRS Preparer Regulation (PTIN) Program 

    In Sept., 2009, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) began rolling out a comprehensive program to regulate the tax preparation industry and ensure that certain standards of professional conduct are met. Starting in 2014, any individual who is paid to prepare federal income tax returns must have a preparer tax identification number (PTIN) issued by the IRS and, unless exempt, must pass a competency exam and suitability check to be considered a Paid Tax Return Preparer (PTRP).

    CPAs and other tax professionals (enrolled agents, attorneys) are exempt from the exam and continuing education requirements but must undergo a portion of the suitability check.

    The AICPA has participated actively in the development of the regulations to implement this program - intended to elevate compliance for paid preparers - to minimize its impact on members who are already subject to state and federal regulation.

    The Fundamentals

    Tax Executive Committee Chair Pat Thompson testifies at a hearing.


    The AICPA has testified and provided several written comments on various components of the program, including fingerprinting, the competency exam, and continuing education providers.

    AICPA Resources

    • Overview of regulations In-depth article in The Tax Adviser that provides background on the launch of the IRS' Return Preparer Review initiative in April 2009
    • Tax Practitioners' Toolkit – a one-stop shop for materials to help you communicate with current and potential clients and reinforce your value as a CPA. The toolkit includes:
      • brochures and presentations on 2011 tax provisions affecting individuals and small businesses
      • a presentation that outlines the differences between CPAs and other preparers
      • print advertisements, and
      • messages to add to your website or newsletter that showcase your value

    News and Articles

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