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Fuller Professional Education, LLC is dedicated to educating individuals and professionals regarding tax matters. Fuller provides training, continuing education, exam preparation, and general information to tax professionals. We serve the general public by raising awareness with our tax blog and our products include continuing education courses specifically designed for tax professionals.

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How to Obtain the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) Credential
A Guide for Tax Professionals

Tax preparers who are interested in obtaining (and maintaining) their Annual Filing Season Program (“AFSP”) credential may do by completing the requirements using an IRS Approved Continuing Education Provider (“IRS CE Provider”), especially those who provide the appropriate continuing education courses and Annual Federal Tax Filing Season Refresher Course (“AFTR Course”).[1] Although any IRS CE Provider may qualify to provide an AFTR Course, the IRS indicates that not all will choose to provide the course. Fuller Professional Education provides all services needed for obtaining the Annual Filing Season Program credential each year. In this article, we’ll first provide a checklist and summary of the requirements for obtaining the AFSP credential, and then a deeper discussion of the requirements will follow. Do you have questions about the Annual Filing Season Program? E-mail us with your questions at support@fulleredu.com.




Checklist for Obtaining the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) credential

"Non-Exempt Preparer" Tax Professional

"Exempt Preparer" Tax Professional

  • Have an Active PTIN Registration
  • Complete 18.0 credit hours of CE (6.0 credit hour AFTR Course, 10.0 credit hours of Federal Tax Law continuing education, and 2.0 credit hours of Ethics continuing education)*
  • Sign an agreement to follow Subpart B of Circular 230 through PTIN holder online account
  • Download/Print AFSP Record of Completion from PTIN holder online account
  • Have an Active PTIN Registration
  • Complete 15.0 credit hours of CE (3.0 credit hours of Tax Law Updates continuing education, 10.0 credit hours of Federal Tax Law continuing education, and 2.0 credit hours of Ethics continuing education)*
  • Sign an agreement to follow Subpart B of Circular 230 through PTIN holder online account (“unenrolled preparers” only)[2]
  • Download/Print AFSP Record of Completion from PTIN holder online account

* All continuing education and AFTR courses must be taken from an IRS Approved Provider to be valid.


Summary of Requirements for Obtaining the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) Credential

In addition to the annual CE requirements discussed below, you must maintain an active PTIN registration with the IRS in order to obtain your Annual Filing Season Program each year. If you maintain your PTIN and complete the CE requirements each year, you will be able to download and print your AFSP Record of Completion from your PTIN holder online account after you agree to follow Subpart (b) of Circular 230 as a tax professional. There will be no additional costs to you for downloading or printing your Record of Completion. Once you’ve completed these steps, you will officially be an AFSP credentialed tax professional.

CE Requirements for 2015 – Beginning in 2015 (and for all years thereafter), the standard continuing education requirements for obtaining/maintaining an Annual Filing Season Program credential applies. Non-exempt tax professionals must complete 18.0 credit hours of IRS Approved Continuing Education annually, which consists of a 6.0 credit Annual Federal Tax Filing Season Refresher Course, 10.0 credits of Federal Tax Law continuing education, and 2.0 credits of Ethics continuing education. Exempt tax professionals must complete 15.0 credit hours of IRS Approved Continuing Education annually, which consists of 3.0 credit hours of Federal Tax Updates continuing education, 10.0 credits of Federal Tax Law continuing education, and 2.0 credit hours of Ethics continuing education.

CE Requirements in 2014 – For the inaugural year of the AFSP program only (the program begins July 1, 2014), the IRS eased the requirements for obtaining an AFSP credential. Non-exempt tax professionals (see below) were able to obtain the AFSP credential for the 2015 filing season by completing 11.0 total credit hours of IRS Approved Continuing Education consisting of a 6.0 credit hour Annual Federal Tax Filing Season Refresher Course, 3.0 credit hours of Federal Tax Law continuing education, and 2.0 credit hours of Ethics continuing education. Exempt tax professionals (also see below) were able to obtain the AFSP credential for the 2015 filing season by completing 8.0 total credit hours of IRS Approved Continuing Education consisting of 3.0 credit hours of Tax Law Updates continuing education, 3.0 credit hours of Federal Tax Law continuing education, and 2.0 credit hours of Ethics continuing education.

The requirements you to obtain your AFSP designation obviously differ depending on whether you are an exempt tax preparer or a non-exempt tax preparer. Although the Annual Filing Season Program is primarily designed for tax preparers who are not certified or accredited through other programs, any tax professional may obtain an Annual Filing Season Program credential. The biggest difference between the requirements for exempt and non-exempt tax professionals is that exempt tax professionals are not required to take a 6.0 credit hour AFTR course each year. Rather, they are required to take 3.0 credits of Tax Law Updates continuing education and an overall credit hour requirement that is 3.0 credit hours less than is required of non-exempt professionals.




Exempt Tax Professionals vs. Non-Exempt Tax Professionals

A majority of tax professionals are non-credentialed: of the approximately 686,000 tax professionals who may legally prepare U.S. tax returns,[3] only 42% have a professional designation that would make them an exempt tax professional.[4] If, however, you meet any of the following requirements, you are considered an "exempt" tax professional for purposes of obtaining the AFSP designation:

  • You are an active Enrolled Agent (EA), a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), or Licensed Attorney
  • You completed the Registered Tax Return Preparer exam while it was offered
  • You have completed testing programs for Oregon, California, or another state based return preparer program. For example, you are a California Registered Tax Return Preparer (CRTP).
  • You have completed the Accredited Tax Preparer examination[5]
  • You have completed Part 1 of the Special Enrollment Exam (SEE) within the last two years[6]
  • You have successfully reached the level of a program reviewer or instructor within the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program

If you meet any one of the above requirements, you’re considered an Exempt Tax Professional for purposes of the Annual Filing Season Program. Otherwise, you are considered a Non-Exempt Tax Professional.




Notes for this Article

[1] - This new type of continuing education-style course was introduced as part of the new Annual Filing Season Program and is handled by IRS-approved CE providers. Fuller Professional Education is an IRS-approved CE provider and provides AFTR courses to all interested tax professionals.

[2] - Unenrolled preparers are basically any tax professional who is not an Attorney, Certified Public Accountant (CPA), or Enrolled Agent (EA). Registered Tax Return Preparers (RTRPs), in this case, are still Unenrolled Preparers.

[3] - i.e. professionals who have active PTIN registrations with the IRS.

[4] - See IRS Article, Return Preparer Office Federal Tax Return Preparer Statistics (updated: Jun. 2, 2014), Link .

[5] - This test is offered by the Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation. For more information regarding this accreditation, see Link .

[6] - This is based on the two-year eligibility window within which aspiring Enrolled Agents may pass the three sections of the Special Enrollment Exam.

Why Choose Fuller for Continuing Education?

There are several reasons why you should go with Fuller Professional Education when completing your continuing education. How about we name a few?


Trusted Provider

Thousands of customers have counted on Fuller Professional Education to deliver quality online CE.

Save Time

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Best Value

You won't find better value for the quality CE you'll receive with Fuller Professional Education. Why waste your money elsewhere?

Multimedia-Rich Content

Our multimedia courses greatly enhance your learning while keeping you engaged. Just sit back and enjoy!

Fully Accredited Courses

Fuller Professional Education is a continuing education provider fully accredited by the Internal Revenue Service and the California Tax Education Council.

In-Depth Coverage

Our courses aren't just carbon copies of IRS Publications - we take you in-depth and give you a real understanding of key tax concepts in every course. We promise you'll learn something new every time.

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