WASHINGTON —The Internal Revenue Service today reminded the nation's more than 715,000 federal tax return preparers that they must renew their Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTINs) for 2016. All current PTINs will expire Dec. 31, 2015.

Anyone who prepares, or assists in preparing, substantially all of a federal tax return or claim for refund for compensation must have a valid PTIN from the IRS. The PTIN must be used as the identifying number on these prepared returns.

“We ask that you renew your PTIN as soon as possible to avoid a last-minute rush,” said Carol A. Campbell, Director of the IRS Return Preparer Office. “It's easy to let this slip as the holiday season approaches.”

Many tax professionals have already shown they see the value in renewing early. The online system has been processing 2016 renewals since Nov. 1. During the first 10 days of availability, more than 136,000 preparers have renewed their PTINs and over 4,000 have obtained new PTINs for the upcoming 2016 tax season.

Whether applying for a first-time PTIN or renewing a 2015 PTIN, the action can be completed online and only takes a few minutes. The annual fee is $50. If you already have a PTIN and cannot remember your user ID and password, there are online tools to assist you. Tax return preparers can get started at www.irs.gov/ptin.

Form W-12, IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number Application and Renewal, is available for paper applications and renewals, but takes four to six weeks to process. Failure to have and use a valid PTIN when preparing returns may result in penalties for paid tax return preparers. All enrolled agents, regardless of whether they prepare returns, must have a PTIN in order to maintain their status.

Annual Filing Season Program Participation Kicks Off

With the opening of the 2016 PTIN renewal season, the IRS will also begin issuing Annual Filing Season Program Records of Completion for 2016.

The IRS Annual Filing Season Program is intended to encourage non-credentialed tax return preparers to voluntarily take continuing education (CE) courses to increase their knowledge and improve their filing season readiness. Participation generally requires 18 hours of CE, including a course in basic tax filing issues and updates, ethics, as well as other federal tax law courses. More information on the types and amounts of CE required for the program is available at www.irs.gov/Tax-Professionals/Annual-Filing-Season-Program.

In addition to continuing education, to participate in the Annual Filing Season Program, PTIN holders must have a valid PTIN for 2016 and must also consent to adhere to specific practice requirements in Treasury Department Circular No. 230 in order to receive an Annual Filing Season Program - Record of Completion.

The IRS has created a new video to demonstrate how to sign the Circular 230 consent and print the Record of Completion.

Tax return preparers who participate in the program are included in the Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications created to help taxpayers make wise decisions when choosing tax return preparers.

The directory also contains information on attorneys, certified public accountants (CPAs), enrolled agents, enrolled retirement plan agents (ERPAs) and enrolled actuaries who are registered with the IRS.

Guidance on the different types of tax return preparers is available at https://www.irs.gov/Tax-Professionals/Understanding-Tax-Return-Preparer-Credentials-and-Qualifications

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Upcoming Tax Dates

February 10 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
File Form 941 for the fourth quarter of 2017. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the quarter timely, properly, and in full.

February 10 — Certain small employers
File Form 944 to report social security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2017. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full.

February 10 — Farm employers
File Form 943 to report social security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2017. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full.

February 10 — Federal unemployment tax
File Form 940 for 2017. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full.

February 10 — Employees who work for tips
If you received $20 or more in tips during January, report them to your employer Details

February 15 — All businesses
Give annual information statements to recipients of certain payments you made during 2017 Details

February 15 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in January.

February 15 — All employers
Begin withholding income tax from the pay of any employee who claimed exemption from withholding in 2017, but did not give you Form W4 to continue the exemption this year.

February 15 — Individuals
If you claimed exemption from income tax withholding last year on the Form W-4, you must file a new Form W-04 by this date to continue your exemption for another year Details

February 19 — Everyone
Federal Holiday (Washington's Birthday) Details

February 28 — All businesses
File information returns (for example, Forms 1099) for certain payments you made during 2017.

February 28 — Payers of gambling winnings.
File Form 1096 along with Copy A of all the Forms W2G you issued for 2017. If you file Forms W2G electronically, your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to 03-31. The due date for giving the recipient these forms remains 01-31.

February 28 — All employers
File Form W3, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements, along with Copy A of all the Forms W2 you issued for 2017. If you file Forms W2 electronically, your due date for filing them with the SSA will be extended to 03-31. The due date for giving the recipient these forms remains 01-31.

February 28 — Large food and beverage establishment employers
File Form 8027, Employer's Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips. Use Form 8027T, Transmittal of Employer's Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips, to summarize and transmit Forms 8027 if you have more than one establishment. If you file Forms 8027 electronically, your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to 03-31.

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