The system no longer charges a user fee, although on FAQs posted to its website, the IRS says it "can make no determinations with respect to" whether it will impose the fees again in the future. While the district court in Steele held that the IRS cannot charge a fee, it did affirm that the IRS can require tax return preparers to obtain a PTIN, based on the authority granted to Treasury under Sec. 6109(d).
Prior to the Steele decision, the IRS had been charging $50 (including a third-party vendor fee) for PTIN applications and renewals. The court also ordered the IRS to refund previously paid PTIN fees. The IRS has not announced when that will happen and says in its FAQs that it is working with the Justice Department to determine how to proceed.