The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) season is open. Tax pros who expect to prepare tax returns for compensation in 2020 can now renew their PTINs. All current PTINs will expire on December 31, 2019.

“Last year we issued more than 813,000 PTIN’s and are asking tax preparers to renew now to avoid a last-minute rush,” said IRS Return Preparer Office Director Carol Campbell. “Having this essential element done now will make the transition to tax season much easier.”

It’s simple – and free – to renew your PTIN online. Click over to and select “renew or register.” Enter your user ID and password, and follow the prompts. If you have a licensed credential, the IRS will ask about it, so be sure to have that info – including the expiration date – handy. Once you’ve clicked through the form, you’ll receive a confirmation of your PTIN renewal.

(First-time PTIN applicants can also apply for a PTIN online. The process is largely the same as above.)

If you’d rather renew or apply by paper, you’ll need to complete form W-12 (downloads as a PDF). Expect four to six weeks to process.

If you don’t have your PTIN for the 2020 tax season, you may not prepare tax returns for compensation. If you don’t have a valid PTIN, you may be subject to penalties.

For more on the history of PTINs (and the legal challenges to them), click here.

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

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