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Starting January 1, 2012, the IRS requires all paid preparers who anticipate preparing and filing 11 or more individual returns during a calendar year to e-file those returns. Members of firms must count returns in the aggregate. A summary of the new requirements appears here.

The measures are intended to help protect taxpayers from incompetent and unethical preparers, promote greater tax law compliance, and increase confidence in the tax system.

Summary of requirements:

Registration and PTIN

All paid tax return preparers are required to register with the IRS and obtain or renew their preparer tax identification number (PTIN).

Obtaining an EFIN

To submit returns electronically as a professional, you must obtain an Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN).  More information on this process is on this page under the "Phase 2" section.

Suitability Check

After you submit your application and related documents, the IRS will conduct a suitability check on the firm and each person listed on your application as either a principal or responsible official. This may include: a credit check; a tax compliance check; a criminal background check; and a check for prior non-compliance with IRS e-file requirements. Once approved, you will get an acceptance letter from the IRS with your Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN). The IRS may take up to 45 days to approve an application.

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