AFSP Annual Filing Season Program

Don't lose the ability to talk to the IRS during an examination of your client's tax return. With over 40 courses available you can choose the topics that interest you.

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2018 AFSP Online Course

EAs, CPAs, and few others are exempt from the 6-Hour AFTR course. An exempt preparer needs 15 hours of continuing education to earn a Record of Completion. All other preparers need to complete 18 hours (and pass the 6-Hour AFTR course). See if you qualify.

2018 AFSP Exempt
$79 $79.00

For certain preparers (EAs, CPAs, etc.) that do not need the 6-hour AFTR Course. See if you qualify

  • 3 hours of Federal Tax Law Updates
  • 2 hours of IRS Tax Ethics
  • 10 hours of Federal Tax Law Topics
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2018 AFSP
$99 $99.00

For most unenrolled preparers who are not exempt from the 6-Hour AFTR requirement. See if you qualify

  • 6 hour IRS Annual Federal Tax Refresher Course
  • 2 hours of IRS Tax Ethics
  • 10 hours of Federal Tax Law Topics
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2018 AFTR
$59 $59.00

This course is for unenrolled preparers who already have 2-hours of ethics and 10-hours of federal tax law.

  • 6 hour IRS Annual Federal Tax Refresher Course
  • Not for EAs, CPAs, and other exempt preparers.
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Reasons to Participate in the IRS Annual Filing Season Program

The Annual Filing Season Program is a voluntary continuing education program for tax return preparers. Preparers who complete the program receive an Annual Filing Season Program — Record of Completion. The IRS permits anyone with a preparer tax id number (PTIN) to prepare tax returns for compensation, but will not allow all unenrolled PTIN holders to represent clients before the IRS. An unenrolled tax return preparer must complete the 6-hour IRS Annual Federal Tax Refresher Course (AFTR), along with additional continuing education to receive an AFSP record of completion.

With an AFSP record of completion you have limited representation rights, meaning you can represent clients during an examination of a return that you sign or prepare.

AFSP participants are included in the directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications.

Demonstrate your professionalism. The AFSP differentiates you in the marketplace from other unenrolled preparers.

Are You Exempt From The 2018 Annual Federal Tax Refresher Course?

What is an Exempt Preparer?

There are certain preparers who are exempt from the AFTR course requirement because they have already completed other recognized state or national competency tests. Members of the exempt group can still earn the AFSP Record of Completion. The main difference is that these preparers take a 3-hour tax update course instead of the AFTR course.

Who is exempt from taking the AFTR course?
Tax Preparer Categories
Description
Enrolled Agent
Exempt as long as preparer holds current EA credential.
Certified Public Accountant
Exempt as long as preparer holds current CPA credential.
Attorney
Exempt as long as preparer holds current credential.
Former IRS Registered Tax Return Preparers
Return preparers who passed the Registered Tax Return Preparer test administered by the IRS at Prometric Testing centers before January 2013.
Passed IRS Special Enrollment Exam (SEE) Part 1
Preparers who passed Part 1 of the Special Enrollment Exam ("the Enrolled Agent Exam") within the past two calendar years. For the 2018 filing season, return preparers must have passed in 2015 or 2016.
California Tax Education Council (CTEC)
Return preparers who are currently registered with CTEC view your status.
Enrolled Retirement Plan Agent (ERPA)
Exempt as long as preparer holds current ERPA credential.
Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation (ACAT)
Return preparers who hold either an ATP (Accredited Tax Preparer) or ABA (Accredited Business Accountant/Advisor) credential.
IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) volunteer
VITA quality reviewers, instructors and preparers who pass the basic and/or advanced VITA examination with active PTINs.
Oregon Board of Tax Practitioners
Return preparers who are currently registered with Oregon view your status.
Maryland State Board of Individual Tax Preparers
Return preparers who have passed the Maryland examination and/or are currently registered with Maryland view your status.
How does an exempt preparer earn the Annual Filing Season Program — Record of Completion without passing the AFTR?

Exempt preparers can obtain the AFSP - Record of Completion by completing 15 hours of IRS-approved CE, consenting to Circular 230 practice requirements, and obtaining or renewing a valid PTIN for the filing season.

The 15 hours must consist of:
  • 3 hours of tax law updates
  • 10 hours of federal tax law topics
  • 2 hours of ethics

Course Library 40+ Courses Available

Tax Return Preparer Ethical Issues
2 hours
EA SEE Test Prep Part 3 Representation Practices and Procedures
2 hours
Disciplinary Actions for Circular 230 Violations
2 hours
Ethics for Tax Practitioners
2 hours
2017 Federal Tax Updates
3 hours
EA SEE Test Prep Part 1 Individuals
5 hours
EA SEE Test Prep Part 2 Businesses
5 hours
Estate Tax Planning
3 hours
Healthcare Reform: Tax Provisions of the Affordable Care Act
4 hours
Retirement Plans, Pensions and Annuities
2 hours
Tax Treatment of Individual Retirement Arrangements
2 hours
Tax Treatment of Life Insurance Proceeds
2 hours
Determining the Deductibility of Business Expenses and Hobby Losses
2 hours
1099 Dos and Don'ts
2 hours
Accuracy & Continuity on Tax Returns
2 hours
Education Tax Benefits
4 hours
Estate Planning Overview
3 hours
Fundamentals of Entity Selection
3 hours
Marital Status and the Adoption Credit, Moving Expenses, and Gain on Sale of Main Home
2 hours
Offers-in-Compromise: Navigating the Process
2 hours
Passive Activity Loss Limitations
2 hours
Preparing Returns with Multiple Income Sources
2 hours
Reporting Foreign Income, Accounts, and Assets
2 hours
Representing Taxpayers Before the IRS
2 hours
Self-Employment, Education Credits and Estimating Tax
2 hours
Single With Dependents
2 hours
Something Old, Something New, Some Divorce Tax Issues for You
2 hours
Tax Issues Related to Small Construction Contractors
2 hours
Tax Rules Related to Ministers and Clergy
2 hours
Tax Treatment of Sickness and Injury Plans
2 hours
Taxation of Daycare Providers
2 hours
Taxation of Lawsuits, Awards, and Settlements
2 hours
Earned Income Tax Credit and Preparer Responsibilities
2 hours
Whose Deduction is it Anyway? Tax Issues for Divorced and Separated Parents
2 hours
Qualified Small Business Stock Sales
2 hours
Debt Cancellation
2 hours
The Correct Approach to Deducting Travel and Lodging Expenses
2 hours
Applying the New Tangible Property Regulations
2 hours
Charitable Contribution Compliance
2 hours
Taxpayer Penalties and Interest
2 hours
Substantiation of Business Expenses
2 hours
Primer on Retirement Plans for Small Business
2 hours
2018 Annual Federal Tax Refresher
6 hours
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Frequently Asked Questions

  • AFSP FAQ
  • AFTR and Exam
  • Course Outline
Is Fast Forward Academy authorized by the IRS to offer Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) training?

Yes. Fast Forward Academy is an IRS authorized continuing education provider. The AFSP courses we offer are eligible for credit under the Annual Filing Season Program. Preparers who complete the AFSP will be listed in a public database which will be added to IRS.gov by January 2018. This database will be available for taxpayers to use in searching for qualified tax return preparers. The Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications will only include attorneys, certified public accountants (CPAs), enrolled agents, enrolled retirement plan agents (ERPAs), enrolled actuaries, and individuals who have received an Annual Filing Season Program — Record of Completion.

Who is an eligible return preparer?

The AFSP is geared towards unenrolled tax return preparers. The AFSP is not intended for credentialed preparers such as enrolled agents, enrolled retirement plan agents, attorneys, CPAs, or enrolled actuaries.

How do I earn an Annual Filing Season Program — Record of Completion?

Successful completion of 18 hours of continuing education from an IRS-approved provider is required to earn the AFSP Record of Completion.

The courses must consist of:

  • 6 credit hour Annual Federal Tax Refresher course (AFTR) covering tax law updates and a review of common tax return issues
  • 10 hours of federal tax law topics
  • 2 hours of ethics
Do I have to take a test to earn the Annual Filing Season Program — Record of Completion?

Yes. Successful completion of the 6 hour AFTR course includes passing a 100 question exam. The questions may be multiple choice and true/false. Passing score is 70%.

Is there a fee to obtain an Annual Filing Season Program — Record of Completion?

The IRS does not charge a fee to obtain the AFSP - Record of Completion. However, the CE courses must be obtained from an IRS-approved CE provider.

Do I have to report my course completion to the IRS?

No. Your CE provider will report your hours to the IRS.

Will I have any other requirements to obtain the AFSP - Record of Completion?

Yes. You will be required to consent to adhere to the practice obligations in Subpart B and section 10.51 of the Treasury Dept. Circular No. 230.

How do I get my Record of Completion from the IRS?

The AFSP - Record of Completion will not be available immediately upon completion of the required coursework. Access to the certificate will be provided during the PTIN Registration/Renewal Process.

Tax return preparers with online PTIN accounts will receive an email from TaxPro_PTIN@irs.gov with instructions on how to complete the application process and receive their certificates in their online secure mailbox. This process may take up to four weeks after completion of all requirements.

Tax return preparers without an online PTIN account will receive a letter with instructions for completing the application process and obtaining their certificates.

Are Enrolled Agents, CPAs, attorneys and other credentialed preparers allowed to earn the AFSP - Record of Completion?

Yes. Although the program is not intended for credentialed preparers because they already possess a higher level of qualification, they may still opt to participate in the program and will be subject to the same requirements as exempt preparers.

Will I still be able to represent clients before the IRS if I don't participate in the Annual Filing Season Program?

As a PTIN holder you will continue to have limited representation rights before limited offices of the IRS with respect to clients whose return you prepared and signed for calendar year 2015. Beginning in 2016, however, only AFSP participants who obtain a Record of Completion will have those limited representation rights before the IRS for clients whose returns they prepared and signed. PTIN holders without an AFSP - Record of Completion or without other professional credentials will not be able to represent clients before the IRS in any matters.

Attorneys, CPAs, and enrolled agents will continue to have unlimited representation rights and can represent clients before any office of the IRS.

Do return preparers have to participate in the Annual Filing Season Program?

No. The AFSP is a voluntary program. Those who opt not to complete the AFSP courses may still prepare and file returns; although, continuing education is highly recommended for all preparers.

Is the AFSP Record of Completion a one-time program?

No. This is an annual program. Each Record of Completion will indicate the filing season for which it is valid. Tax preparers will be expected to complete the program each year to obtain a valid Record of Completion for the next filing season.

If I participate, will I be subject to Circular 230?

Yes. To obtain your Record of Completion, unenrolled preparers must agree to adhere to the practice requirements for tax practitioners outlined in Subpart B and section 10.51 of Treasury Department Circular No. 230.

About the AFTR Course and Exam

Do I have to go to a testing center to take the test for the Annual Federal Tax Refresher Course?

No. The 6-hour AFTR course is considered complete when a tax preparer passes the 100 question exam offered as part of the course. The exam will be administered by IRS-approved CE providers who offer the Annual Filing Season Program. All courses and exams must follow an outline and parameters set forth by the IRS.

What does the AFTR course cover?

The AFTR course is a 6-hour course that covers topics divided into three domains:

  • New and updated tax laws
  • General federal tax topics
  • Ethics, practice and procedures

The course outlines will be updated annually by the IRS. Course providers must make sure to cover all topics listed in the outline in their courses each year.

What is the course/exam duration and format?

The AFTR course is a 6-hour course. The course must include a test which will consist of a minimum of 100 questions. The questions should be mostly multiple choice but can include true/false questions as well. The test has a 3 hour time limit.

What if I take the course but do not pass the test?

A participant may attempt an identical test two times, as long as no feedback is provided between attempts. If the participant is unsuccessful on both attempts, they may try again but only with a test that is substantially different from the first version.

When must I have the AFTR course completed to earn the Record of Completion for the next filing season?

Preparers are able to take the AFTR course as early as June 1 each year. The course must be completed no later than December 31 each year in order to earn the Record of Completion for the next filing season. Records of Completion will be issued in accordance with the PTIN renewal process.

Do I need a PTIN before I take the course?

You must have a PTIN in order for your course results to be reported to the IRS.

May I just take the test or do I have to complete the course as well?

No. You are required to complete a 6-hour course and cannot forego the course content to skip straight to the test.

Understanding IRS Representation

31 U.S.C. § 330 authorizes the IRS to "regulate the practice of representatives of persons before the Department of the Treasury." Practice entails communicating with the IRS for a taxpayer regarding the taxpayer's rights, privileges, or liabilities under laws and regulations administered by the IRS. Only select professionals receive practice rights.

NO REPRESENTATION RIGHTS — Return preparers who have not received the IRS Annual Filing Season Program — Record of Completion.

UNLIMITED REPRESENTATION RIGHTS — The following professionals may represent their clients on any matters including audits, payment/collection issues, and appeals.

LIMITED REPRESENTATION RIGHTS — Return preparers that receive an IRS Annual Filing Season Program — Record of Completion. They may only represent clients whose returns they prepared and signed, but only before revenue agents, customer service representatives, and similar IRS employees, including the Taxpayer Advocate Service.

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