Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How many credits do I need to complete each period?Credentialed preparers, such as Enrolled Agents (EAs), Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) and tax attorneys, each have their own requirements:
Enrolled Agents are required to complete 72 hours of continuing education for every enrollment cycle (3 years), which is to include at least 2 hours of ethics or professional conduct per year.
CPAs and tax attorneys must conform to the requirements of the respective professional State boards where they are licensed to practice.
Non-credentialed tax preparers are not required to complete continuing education courses*, although to maintain proficiency with the current tax code, continuing education is highly recommended by the IRS. Tax preparers who are not credentialed and wish to obtain an IRS Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) Record of Completion are required to complete 18 hours of continuing education courses for the 2017 tax year; 2 hours of ethics, 10 hours of federal tax law, and a 6 hour Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) Course and exam (unless exempt). Non-credential tax preparers who are exempt from taking the AFTR course but still wish to obtain the AFSP Record of Completion must complete a minimum of 15 hours of continuing education courses for the 2017 tax year; 2 hours of ethics, 10 hours of federal tax law, and 3 hours of federal tax law updates.
Number of CE Hours Required for the IRS AFSP Record of Completion
Federal Tax Law Updates
Annual Tax Refresher Course
Total CE Hours
Tax Schools of America is designed to let the user select their own courses to satisfy their credit hour requirement. Our course list is separated into categories matching those required by the IRS and CTEC for easy selection of course hours.
*Exceptions are Registered Tax Return Preparers in Oregon, California, Maryland, and New York. These individuals are required to complete continuing education courses on a regimen determined by the State and are exempt from the IRS Annual Tax Refresher Course.
Q: What is the advantage to having an IRS Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) Record of Completion?Preparers that hold an AFSP Record of Completion are included on the IRS website's public directory of tax return preparers who have voluntarily met the continuing education requirements recommended by the IRS for the specified tax year. Effective January 1, 2016, completion of the AFSP also allows non-credentialed preparers to represent clients (whose returns they have prepared and signed) before revenue agents, the Taxpayer Advocate Service, customer service representatives, and similar IRS employees. Non-credentialed preparers without an AFSP Record of Completion cannot represent clients before the IRS for returns they have prepared and signed after December 31, 2015.
Q: Which non-credentialed tax return preparers are exempt from the Annual Tax Refresher (AFTR) Course and exam?Non-credentialed preparers that passed the Registered Tax Return Preparer Test offered by the IRS in 2012 and 2013 are not required to take the AFTR course to receive an IRS AFSP Record of Completion. State-certified preparers are also exempt from the AFTR requirement to complete the AFSP. Preparers who have passed the Special Enrollment Exam, Part 1 within the past two years, VITA volunteers, and those credentialed in the ABA and ATP programs are also exempt from the AFTR requirements. Exempt preparers must complete a minimum of 15 hours of continuing education courses for the 2017 tax year; 2 hours of ethics, 10 hours of federal tax law, and 3 hours of federal tax law updates if they wish to obtain the AFSP Record on Completion.
Q: How do I complete a course for continuing education credit?Tax Schools of America offers all courses online; therefore, an internet connection is required for course completion. The following steps detail how to complete a course:
1) Enroll at Tax Schools of America by completing the account information (name, e-mail address, password, and PTIN and/or CTEC number) through the 'Enroll Now' option located at the bottom of our landing page TaxSchoolsofAmerica.com. Once completed, the program will take you to your account page.
2) View our course selection by clicking the 'Add More Courses' button located at the bottom of your account page.
3) View the course description by clicking on the course name or add a course to your account by clicking the shopping cart located to the right of the course title; this will add the course to your shopping cart and take you to the shopping cart page.
4) To add multiple courses, click the 'Back to Course Listing' option on the shopping cart page and repeat the previous step.
5) Once all the courses you wish to take are in your cart (you can always add more courses later), select the 'Check-Out Now' button to enter your payment information.
6) Once payment is submitted, you will be taken to your account page. To begin a course, click on the 'Start' button located to the right of the course title. You can navigate through the course pages by using the arrow keys on top of the page, using the arrow keys on your keyboard, or selecting a specific page number on the top of the page.
7) To take the course exam, click on the 'Take Exam' button located on the top of the page (below the page numbers). At least 70% of the questions must be answered correctly in order to pass the exam and receive a certificate for completing the course. All exams consist of multiple choice questions; there are no short-answer or writing requirements.
The course content is available until the exam is passed; therefore, it is possible to go back and review the course after unsuccessfully completing an exam. All exams, with the exception of the Annual Federal Tax Refresher Course, can be taken multiple times. Once a score of at least 70% is attained, the course's completion certificate is accessible on the account page and the corresponding continuing education credits will automatically be reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and California Tax Education Council (CTEC) (if applicable) within 7 working days.
Q: What are the record-keeping requirements once I complete a course?The IRS recommends keeping the following information for a minimum of 4 years:
- The name of the CE provider organization.
- Location of the program.
- Title of the program, approval number received for the program, and a copy of the program content.
- Date(s) attended.
- Credit hours claimed.
- Name of the instructor(s), if applicable.
- Certificate of completion and/or signed statement of hours of attendance obtained from the CE provider.
Q: When do you send my course completions to the IRS/California?We submit course completion information to the IRS and California on a weekly basis.
Q: How long does it take for me to see the credit hours in my PTIN/CRTP account?It takes the Internal Revenue Service or California Tax Education Council (CTEC) approximately one to seven days from the day we submit course completion information to validate and populate in the applicable account.
Q: What is the result if I do not pass a course exam?We recommend a thorough review of the course content followed by another attempt at the exam.
Q: How many times can I take a course exam?There is no limit to the amount of times you can take a course exam, with the exception of the Annual Tax Refresher course. There is also no additional charge for retaking a course exam, regardless of the number of attempts. We recommend a thorough review of the course content in the event an exam is not passed. Our program limits the The Annual Tax Refresher course exam to a maximum of 4 attempts (this is not mandated by the IRS). The Annual Tax Refresher course exam is the only exam that is timed (this is mandated by the IRS).
Q: How do I see the credit hours on my PTIN account?Go to the IRS website and click on "Tax Pros;" then, click on "Renew or Sign-up Now" in the PTIN Open Season area. Type in your username and password. If you have forgotten your login information, there are links to help you retrieve this information securely. Once you are logged into your account, click on "View My Continuing Education Credits." If you discover that credit hours are missing from your account that have been successfully completed through Tax Schools of America, you may contact us at 800-298-5211.
Q: Why do I have to take an exam?As part of a self-study course, the Internal Revenue Service requires that the provider has a means for evaluating the successful comprehension and completion of each course. The most effective tool for meeting this requirement is the course exam.
Q: How often are courses updated?All courses are updated to the latest federal and state tax code on an annual basis, typically in the first quarter of the year for federal courses and the second quarter of the year, or later, for state courses, depending on when draft forms become available. Accommodation is also made for significant changes in tax law that occur beyond these time frames.
Q: How do I renew my California Registered Tax Preparer (CRTP) designation?California Registered Tax Preparers (CRTPs) can renew their registration with the California Tax Education Council (CTEC) through the following link: https://www.ctec.org/Preparer/Logon.
Q: Are all your courses offered online?All the courses currently offered by Tax Schools of America are accessed online. In the future, we expect to also offer 1-2 day schools at selected locations across the country. Check our website periodically for announcements regarding these events.
Q: I have a suggestion for a class. How do I get that information to your course writers?We welcome suggestions for course electives that would be helpful to you in your professional service. Please e-mail any comments or suggestions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: What is your refund policy?Refunds are credited back to the source of payment upon request if there is a technical error in the course material. Refunds do not apply once credit is awarded for a course.