Annual Filing Season Program – General Requirements

The Annual Filing Season Program is intended to recognize and encourage unenrolled tax return preparers who voluntarily increase their knowledge and improve their filing season competency through continuing education (CE).

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For Non-Exempt tax preparers:

  • Take 18 hours of continuing education from IRS-Approved CE Providers, including:
    • a 6-hour Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course that covers filing season issues and tax law updates, as well as a knowledge-based comprehension test administered at the end of the course by the CE Provider;
    • 10 hours of other federal tax law topics; and
    • 2 hours of ethics.
  • Have an active preparer tax identification number (PTIN).
  • Consent to adhere to specific practice obligations outlined in Subpart B and section 10.51 of Treasury Department Circular No. 230.

For Exempt tax preparers:


After PTIN renewal season begins in October, a Record of Completion will be generated to you once all requirements have been met, including renewal of your PTIN and consent to the Circular 230 obligations.

If you have an online PTIN account, you will receive an e-mail from with instructions on how to sign the Circular 230 consent and receive your certificate in your online secure mailbox. (Note: The mailbox only sends messages. It does not accept or process messages.)

If you don’t have an online PTIN account, you will receive a letter with instructions for completing the application process and obtaining your certificate.

Yes. 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 are still required to meet other program requirements, including 15 CE credits: 10 federal tax law, three (3) federal tax law updates, and two (2) ethics.

The IRS has provided a chart showing the CE Requirements for the AFSP. The Annual Filing Season Program Participants Continuing Education Requirements are presented in IRS Publication 5646, which can be found on their website: