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

April 10 — Employees who work for tips
If you received $20 or more in tips during March, report them to your employer. You can use Form 4070.

April 10 — Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the first 15 days of March.

April 14 — Regular method taxes
Deposit the tax for the last 16 days of March.

April 18 — Individuals
File a 2016 income tax return (Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ) and pay any tax due. If you want an automatic 6 month extension of time to file the return, file Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. For more information, see Form 4868. Then, file Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ by October 16.

April 18 — Corporations
File a 2016 calendar year income tax return (Form 1120) and pay any tax due. Details

April 18 — Individuals
If you are not paying your 2017 income tax through withholding (or will not pay in enough tax during the year that way), pay the first installment of your 2017 estimated tax. Use Form 1040ES.

April 18 — Household Employers
f you paid cash wages of $1,800 or more in 2016 to a household employee, you must file Schedule H Details

April 18 — Corporations
Deposit the first installment of estimated income tax for 2017 Details

April 18 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in March.

April 18 — Nonpayroll withholding
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in March.

April 18 — Household employers
If you paid cash wages of $1,900 or more in 2016 to a household employee, you must file Schedule H (Form 1040). If you are required to file a federal income tax return (Form 1040), file Schedule H (Form 1040) with the return and report any household employment taxes. Report any federal unemployment (FUTA) tax on Schedule H (Form 1040) if you paid total cash wages of $1,000 or more in any calendar quarter of 2015 or 2016 to household employees. Also, report any income tax you withheld for your household employees.

April 27 — Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the last 16 days of March.

April 29 — Regular method taxes
Deposit the tax for the first 15 days of April.

View More Tax Dates