Thursday, November 11, 2010

Paid tax preparers must sign up for new ID number, IRS says

People who charge others to prepare their income-tax returns must sign up with the IRS to get a new federal preparer identification number before doing any returns for tax year 2010, the federal agency says.
The new ID number is part of the IRS move to begin regulation of those who make it a business to prepare returns for others.

Later, they will also be required to take an IRS competency test and complete continuing-education courses to be eligible to charge for tax-preparation services, said David R. Williams, the IRS official in charge of the new regulatory program.

“All must have a preparer ID number as a first step in identifying who is preparing tax returns,” Williams said today in a conference call with reporters.

“We are trying to get the message out” to people whose business it is to prepare returns, he said, “and get a broader message to consumers that we are taking steps” to make sure that tax preparers are qualified.

Tax-preparers may apply for the ID number online at, The process takes about 15 minutes, and has to be completed by everyone who prepares returns for a fee, even those who already had an IRS tax-preparer number in the past, Williams said.

The ID number is officially known as the Preparer Tax Identification Number, or PTIN, the IRS said.

Sixty percent of taxpayers use tax-return preparation services, the IRS said, and an additional 30 percent use tax-preparation software programs.

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