That sigh you just heard? It’s the sound of tax professionals everywhere finally breathing after the IRS issued final regulations requiring paid tax return preparers to register with the IRS to obtain a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). The move to PTINs (and associated regs) has been making news for some time now as IRS has been busy trying to figure out the best way to implement a number of new rules related to tax professionals.

The new regulations require paid tax preparers to register online with IRS and obtain a PTIN. Preparers can do this through the IRS website. According to the IRS, those preparers who already have a PTIN will need to reapply under the new system but (shaking head) generally will be reassigned the same number. No, I don’t understand that logic either… unless it’s to collect that $64.25 fee. A portion of that fee ($50) will be used by the IRS to “pay for technology, compliance and outreach efforts associated with the new program.” The remainder goes to a third party vendor.

For more information or tech support, contact the IRS at 1-877-613-PTIN (7846).

If you insist on completing a paper application, you can send in a form W-12 (downloads as a pdf). Expect to wait four to six weeks for a reply.

And please, oh please, let me know how it goes. I have a feeling the IRS will sit tightly on this one.

There’s no word yet on how compliance with the other regulations related to Circular 230 (specifically, continuing education requirements for tax preparers) will shake out. Apparently the IRS is considering broadening the categories of preparers who might be exempt from additional requirements. I’ll let you know as soon as I hear something more concrete – the IRS is promising by year end. This is going to make for an awfully interesting tax prep season…

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Kelly Erb is a tax attorney, tax writer and podcaster.


  1. They released the Form W-12 and then a few hours later removed it.
    I started the registration process 13 hours ago…still waiting for them to email me my password.
    I have a feeling that this is not going to go well for anyone.

  2. Anita Adams Reply

    Thanks so much for the info! I’ve been waiting for the news on the go-ahead for the PTIN’s, considering the changes of which you spoke. I went through the process and unlike JOhnBob above, the experience was fairly painless. However, there was a glitch upon submission of my application. The error notice at the top of the page said that my app had been submitted, but the system could not calculate the fee…as we all know, if you don’t pay, then you really didn’t do anything! I called the specified help # repeatedly, only to get a recording that told me to call back later–no option to be put on hold. As a last resort, I began the application process once again. To my surprise, the info that I had previously input was still there, so I just clicked “Next” throughout. No error this time! Yay! I paid the fee, printed out all the confirmation pages as well as my receipt and was reissued the same PTIN which was assigned to me in October 2008.

    Thanks so much for keeping us informed!

  3. It’s still giving me an error message:

    “The address that you have entered is either incorrect or has been entered in an incorrect format.Please go back and update this information.”

    Guess I’ll have to try the phone support line… >8[


  4. Still no email from them. I tried to the “Forgot Password” option, it asks for my secret question and then says it will email me the password. Still nothing.
    Guess I too will have to call.

  5. While I did get my password e-mailed to me, I haven’t passed the verification process. Tried it yesterday and today and managed to lock myself out, both times. The hold time for help from the IRS is a bit ridiculous. Ah, I think I’ll just wait a while and then try it again. I, for one, am not shocked that there are kinks that need to be worked out.

  6. I registered yesterday, thought everything was good, went to check my status to see it was provisional. Check FAQ and it said there are three reasons for this. None of which applies to me. Called the hot line was after a long wait was told this is a status given to all applications until the IRS decides what test we need if any. When that decision is made, my status will change. Has this happened to anyone else?

  7. Well, it has been a week and still nothing. However, I am getting to read all the spam that I normally ignore. (Just in case the email went to the spam folder.)

  8. Yep, applied, waited for the email for the password nothing. Tried the forgot my password, said it was being emailed, nothing. Guess I will have to try and call and sit on hold for who knows how long, just to get my PTIN back that I have had for over 5 years!

  9. Woo Hoo! It finally worked. I did the “Forgot my password” thing again and this time it was emailed. BUT…it went straight to my SPAM folder.

    A little humor, there is a part that asks for your personal tax info. The instructions inform you that “The tax year is the year at the top of your tax return.”

    Wow, if you don’t know that you should not be applying for a PTIN in the first place!

  10. Denise,

    Mine still says provisional. Per the IRS rep, that will remain provisional until we pass their testing. Actually I finally determined that was Item 1 of their three reasons.

    What I have NOT received is their “Welcome Letter” – Has anyone received that??????

  11. Anita Adams Reply

    Denise and Lynn,

    My PTIN is also provisional and no, I’ve received nothing in the mail from the IRS thus far.

    JOhn BoB,

    Isn’t it wonderful that the IRS makes NO presumptions as to it’s users intelligence?!! Lol!!!!

  12. Hi! All:

    I tried to use the online to apply for the PTIN and put in exactly my tax return information (even with space, period, hyphen). However, it said it didn’t match. Do anyone know why? I copied exactly information from my tax return. Also did anyone use the from W-12 to apply? Thank you. Mei

  13. Surprisingly enough everything went smooth with my online application, got my welcoming letter via email today, but there is something strange, my PTIN number is missing. The space after the whole We’ve accepted your application for a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN)
    Your assigned PTIN is BLANK
    No PTIN
    anyone knows if this might be that i was assigned the same number ?

  14. i applied for my ptin paid the fees, the status of ptin says provisional. but here is the thing it has my ptin number and the expiration of 12/2011. what is going on here, somebody help

  15. T,

    PTIN# is going to have to be renewed every year (for an additional fee). This is your number for 2011 and it may or may not change in 2012.

  16. well thanks guys, after paying for my ptin i got the same number though it said provisional. I waited anxiously for the welcome letter from IRS and i got it within hours.
    thanks again

  17. I got my PTIN# and this is my first time to apply. My number starts with letter P and then along with the number. Does your PTIN number start with letter P also?



  18. yes mine starts with a P as well, did it say provisional tho and how about the welcome letter did you get that.

  19. On the PTIN applicaiton confirmation, it shows that the status is active and it expires on 12/31/11. However, I don’t recall I receive any welcome letter and additional guidance from IRS.

  20. I’ve been trying to register my PTIN, but I continued to get an error. Yesterday, I called the help line and the Tax Pract. Line. After one hour of being bounced around, I was told that the system is having issues and that I should try again another day. I tried again today with similar problems. I was trying every possible combination of my name and address. You won’t believe the solution! I entered “III” (the third) after my last name. It didn’t work when I entered it in the suffix box – only when I entered it after my last name. It worked!!!! My husband is the third; so I guess the “III” is associated with my name also. I told the PTIN representative that I didn’t want the “III” being registered as my name, but she said to call in 24 hours, and they’ll get it corrected! HA! If you have trouble, try every possible combination of your name and your spouse’s name! GOOD LUCK! After authentication, the process was smooth, and I received my old PTIN.

  21. What a nightmare…I have been trying for over a week to complete this application, kept getting an error message. Called the help line and was bounced around for 3 hours. My husband called to speak with a supervisor and the problem was his fault. He is a Jr and therefore I have to put Jr after my name, problem solved in 5 minutes. Good Luck…

  22. I applied and paid for my PTIN on 12/23. It gave me my number and a 12/11 expression but still shows provisional status and no welcome email yet. Any advice? I start working in the tax office Monday and of course you can only call IRS m-f.

  23. I just applied, never got my PTIN instantly or anything, not welcome letter, nothing. But when i got back on the irs website I did discover this when checking the status.

    You will be asked to submit additional documentation prior to receiving your PTIN, which will be explained during your application process. By completing this application online, you will receive your PTIN in 2-4 weeks.
    If you need any assistance throughout the process, call the IRS Tax Professional PTIN Line.
    If you wish to end at any time, press “Cancel.”

  24. Hi,
    I applied for PTIN and I received it. The status of PTIN is provisional. Expiration date is January 2012.
    I have read that if status of your PTIN is provisional it means that maybe some test from IRS will be required. What test? How do I know when I need to pass this IRS test?
    Does someone know how to renew your PTIN? What is going to happen after January 2012 when my PTIN is expired?
    Thank you

  25. I just submitted and paid for my ptin I checked my application twice to make sure I was applying for next year but it processed and says that my ptin expires on 12/31/2012. Any advice. Please Help???

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