Fast Forward Academy Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) Course

Master Tax Reform and complete your AFSP requirement with our industry-leading AFTR course.

Top Rated Top Rated IRS Approved CE Provider

About the AFTR Course and Exam

The Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course is a 6-hour course accompanied by a 3-hour, 100 question, comprehension exam. It was first introduced by the IRS in 2015 as part of the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP), which is intended to recognize tax return preparers who voluntarily enhance their knowledge and improve their competency through continuing education.

The AFTR course is required for non-exempt tax return preparers who wish to participate in the Annual Filing Season Program. Along with the AFTR, non-exempt preparers must complete 2 hours of Ethics and 10 hours of Federal Tax Law courses to earn the AFSP Record of Completion. All AFSP requirements must be completed prior to midnight on December 31st of each year. By completing the AFTR course and earning the AFSP Record of Completion, non-exempt preparers gain the ability to represent clients whose returns they prepared during an examination by the IRS.

The 2023 AFTR course consists of 3 domains:

  • Domain 1 - New Tax Law/Recent Updates
  • Domain 2 - General Review
  • Domain 3 - Practices, Procedures, and Professional Responsibility

Ready to earn your AFSP Record of Completion?

Course Details

AFTR Exam Information

  • 100 question, multiple-choice examination
  • 3 hour duration
  • Open book
  • Must be completed by December 31st

Who should take the AFTR course?

Generally, return preparers who are not attorneys, CPAs, or Enrolled Agents, and wish to earn the AFSP Record of Completion should complete the AFTR. View the list below to see other types of return preparers who are exempt.

Who is exempt from the AFTR course and exam?

  • Enrolled Agents (EA)
  • Certified Public Accountants (CPA)
  • Attorneys
  • Former IRS Registered Tax Return Preparers (RTRP) (Learn more about RTRP)
  • Enrolled Retirement Plan Agents (ERPA)
  • Preparers who have passed Part 1 of the Special Enrollment Exam (SEE) within the past 3 calendar years
  • Preparers currently registered with California Tax Education Council (CTEC)
  • IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) volunteers
  • Preparers who are currently registered with Oregon Board of Tax Practitioners
  • Preparers who have passed the Maryland examination and/or are currently registered with Maryland

AFTR Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I choose Fast Forward Academy for my AFTR course?

With multiple exam retakes at no additional cost, up to six attempts, and the ability to take your exam open book, no one makes it easier to complete the AFTR requirement than Fast Forward Academy.

  • Open book, searchable
  • Multiple exam retakes with no additional cost
  • Automatic reporting to the IRS

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

No. The exam will be administered online by us at Fast Forward Academy, an IRS-approved continuing education provider. All courses and exams must follow an outline and parameters set forth by the IRS.

What is the AFTR course/exam duration and format?

The AFTR course is a 6-hour course. The AFTR course must include a test which will consist of a minimum of 100 multiple choice questions. The test has a 3 hour time limit.

What if I take the AFTR exam but do not pass?

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. Remember, with Fast Forward Academy, you have multiple exam attempts to earn a passing score.

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 AFTR course?

No, you can begin your course right away. However, you must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number in order for your course completion to be reported to the IRS.

Can I just take the exam or do I have to complete the AFTR 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.

If I pass the AFTR exam this year, do I need to take it again next year?

Yes, unless you qualify for an exemption, you will need to pass the AFTR each year and complete 2 hours of ethics and 10 hours of other tax law courses to qualify for your Annual Filing Season—Record of Completion.

Where can I learn more about the AFTR course and if I am an exempt preparer?

To learn more or to find out if you are exempt from the AFTR course, please visit:

If I am an EA or CPA, will the 6-hour IRS Annual Federal Tax Refresher Course count towards my CE?

No, CPAs and Enrolled Agents are not eligible to receive credit for the IRS Annual Federal Tax Refresher course.

Can an EA or CPA participate in the AFSP program?

Those with credentials who wish to earn the AFSP Record of Completion from the IRS may do so by taking a 3-hr Federal tax update in place of this course (6-hour AFTR). If you are an enrolled agent this course is not for you, it will not count towards IRS requirements. If you are an Enrolled Agent and wish to receive a record of completion you should take the 3-hour tax update course instead of the AFTR.