On Thursday, two weeks after the end of the government shutdown, the IRS reopened its registration system for renewing preparer tax identification numbers (PTINs) for the 2014 filing season.
When the IRS reopened on Oct. 17, it announced that while the PTIN registration system was available for new PTIN registrations, current PTIN holders would not yet be able to use the system to renew their numbers for 2014.
As the IRS website explains, anyone who prepares or assists in preparing federal tax returns for compensation must have a valid 2014 PTIN before preparing returns. All enrolled agents must also have a PTIN, as must lawyers and CPAs who are compensated for preparing returns or refund claims. (Enrolled agents must have PTINs even if they do not prepare any returns that year.) PTINs must be renewed before each filing season begins. The deadline to apply for PTINs for the 2014 filing season for 2013 returns is Dec. 31, 2013. All current PTINs expire on that date.
Both new and renewal PTINs can be applied for online or on paper (Form W-12). However, the IRS says that paper applications take four to six weeks to process. The IRS also noted several changes to the PTIN website since last year, including a “Manage My Account” tool that allows PTIN holders to correct any of their information online at any time.
When the IRS’s registered tax return preparer program was struck down in Loving, No. 12-385 (D.D.C. 1/18/13), there was some initial uncertainty whether the PTIN program was also invalid; however, the Loving court soon clarified that the IRS can require return preparers to use a PTIN.