CTEC Tax Pros: Please Relax

By Andy Frye

Our tax education hotline has continued to ring off the hook and we feel blessed by the fact that so many CTEC tax preparers rely on us for trustworthy, actionable information.  Nevertheless, some of the calls we have been getting this week have been a bit disturbing.  We have tax preparers calling us literally at all hours of the day and night absolutely freaking out because they think when the clock strikes midnight on December 31st, if they don’t do XYZ thing, they’re not going to be able to work this tax season.

Now listen, I’m not judging you one single bit if this describes how you feel today!  Matter of fact, I’m right there with you, I only renewed my own PTIN today (last day) and completed my EA continuing education hours today (last day).  I could barely sleep last night because of fear I wouldn’t finish my hours in time and then the IRS would take my EA license from me.

Getting stuff done ahead of time is for suckers, right??!!  We are tax preparers, we eat deadlines for breakfast!!!  LOL.

My CTEC Tax Preparer friends, I’m here to give you some RELIEF from the anxiety you may be feeling today.  There is one and only one reason you need to “freak out” today and I’ll tell you what that reason is right in front of this article, and even that falls into the category of “not that big of a deal.”  Everything else you’re feeling anxiety about today, you can feel free to to chill out a little bit and enjoy the last day of 2016…because today’s “deadlines” are completely overhyped.

December 31 Deadline for AFSP Course Completion

The one and only reason you, as a CTEC tax preparer, should be at all anxious today is because if you don’t complete your AFSP course by today, you won’t be able to have the AFSP credential for 2017.

Want a solution to that problem?

Start your course now, finish your course today, and we will get your hours reported with December 31 as the completion date.

NOTE: you do not need to call us or email us about reporting your hours.  IRS has given us a full 10 days to report the hours so don’t even trip.  The one and only thing you need to do is start and complete your course today, that’s it, you leave the rest up to us.

If you don’t get your AFSP, you can’t represent any taxpayers with the IRS, and you won’t be listed in that database the IRS is making showing which tax preparers completed which education requirements.

Remember that the AFSP is completely optional.

If you don’t get it, you can still do taxes this tax season, yes we recommend you grab this AFSP credential but if you don’t have it, really, it’s not like clients are going to ask you, “Do you have your AFSP credential?  Becuase if you don’t, I can’t have you do my taxes.  I need to work with a tax professional who is AFSP-compliant.”

Meme Credit: http://ci.memecdn.com/8734528.jpg

Your Hours Aren’t Showing Up in Your PTIN Account???  Join the Club!

Freaking out because your continuing education hours aren’t showing up in your PTIN account? 

Don’t freak out about that, please.  You can still renew your PTIN just fine, having hours or not having hours has nothing to do with being able to renew your PTIN, yes you can renew your PTIN without any CE hours in your PTIN account.  If we had a nickel for every time we told someone that, we’d be…actually, I don’t want to do math today…let’s just say we’d have a lot of nickels!

The IRS is using a new system for reporting hours and you know how it goes with implementing new systems: EXPECT DELAYS.  The IRS itself has told all education providers, as well as all tax professionals, that we should expect delays in hours appearing in your PTIN account.  See, look here, it’s not all our fault as you may have suspected, this is right from the IRS PTIN website:

Renew your PTIN and then come back later to grab the AFSP credential, once your hours show up in your account.

Haven’t Registered for AFSP by December 31 Deadline?

Don’t freak about this, either.  The IRS is giving you until April 17, 2017 to go back into your PTIN account, sign off on the Circular 230 stuff, and get your hands on that AFSP credential. 

You need to complete your course by December 31 but you can come back later to your PTIN account and actually get the AFSP in place.

Did Not Renew Your PTIN by December 31?

Yes, 2016 PTINs will be expired as of January 1, 2017.  However, it’s not like you can’t go back into the PTIN renewal system and get a 2017 PTIN once the clock strikes midnight of December 31. 

For example, let’s say you don’t renew your PTIN today.  Go back into your PTIN account on January 10th and renew your PTIN.  Just means you can’t do tax returns from January 1 – January 9…which you probably were not going to do anyways.

So, again, relax; seriously, it’s not an issue.

What’s the Deadline for the 60 Hour CTEC Course?

And then we have the aspiring new tax preparers who are racing to finish their 60 hour CTEC course.

Sorry to kill the drama, Newbies, but there is no deadline for completing the 60 hour CTEC course.

You can complete it anytime of the year.

The Real Deadline CTEC Tax Preparers Need to Be Worried About

I hope this blog doesn’t come off as judgy.  Like I said, I’m 3rd Generation in the tax business, so I know exactly how it goes with tax preparers thriving on the adrenaline of being “under the gun” and somehow wrenching victory from the jaws of defeat.  Like I said, I just barely got my own stuff handled today, so we’re all in the same boat on that one.

My goal here is to just hopefully help you relax and not spend today in needless anxiety.

It’s the last day of the year and you deserve to have a nice day.

January 15th is the real deadline you need to worry about.  If you don’t do your 20 hour CTEC course by January 15th, your CTEC registration expires.  And if the Franchise Tax Board catches you doing tax returns in California without active CTEC registration, which you might be surprised how good they are at catching you, they’ll pound you for a $2,500-$5,000 penalty.

Get your CTEC course done by January 15th unless you want to do the 60 hour CTEC course all over again.

For the meantime, you have our permission and our encouragement to take a deep breath and relax!

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Let's Make Sure We Direct You to the Right
Training for Your Needs!

Please click the button below for your primary tax credential.

Not sure which credential applies to your situation?  Click here to reach our support team and we'll help you decide.