As of Friday, January 18, 2013, the United States District Court has enjoined the IRS from enforcing the regulatory requirements for Registered Tax Return Preparers. The IRS, working with the Department of Justice, continues to have confidence in the scope of its authority to administer this program. For now, the program requirements are voluntary. This may change if the IRS succeeds in its planned appeal or with the passage of new legislation.
The IRS introduced the new rules in Treasury Department Circular No. 230 (Rev. 8-2011). Under these rules, all Registered Tax Return Preparers were required to complete 15 hours of annual continuing education (CE), including 3 hours of federal tax law updates, 2 hours of ethics, and 10 hours of other federal tax law. The continuing education requirements for Registered Tax Return Preparers do not apply to attorneys, certified public accountants, and enrolled individuals, certain supervised preparers, and individuals who do not prepare Form 1040 series returns. The continuing education programs are currently voluntary for individuals who are Registered Tax Return Preparers, and those who have provisional PTINs.
Preparers must retain the following records for four years following the date of renewal:
The name of the CE Provider organization;
The location of the program;
The title of the program, approval number received for the program, and copy of the program content;
Written outlines, course syllabi, textbook, and/or electronic materials provided or required for the program;
The date(s) attended;
The credit hours claimed;
The name(s) of the instructor(s), discussion leader(s), or speaker(s), if appropriate; and
The certificate of completion and/or signed statement of the hours of attendance obtained from the continuing education provider.
In addition, records must be maintained by the CE Provider to verify the participants who attended and completed the program for a period of four years following completion of the program. Tax professionals taking CE courses should expect the provider to request their first and last name, as well as their PTIN number in order to comply with reporting requirements.