By Andy Frye
“I pay you to do my taxes because I know that you’ll have my back if the IRS ever hassles me.”
This is the thought that drives many millions of taxpayers to choose to pay their hard-earned money to hire a professional tax preparer, rather than doing their own taxes online.
I mean, isn’t that what most clients think they’re paying for, when they pay for tax prep?
And yet the sad fact is, due to widely-misunderstood and even-more-widely-ignored IRS tax preparer regulation program, up to 87% of tax preparers are powerless to represent their clients if and when those clients need their tax pro most: in the event of an unpleasant IRS event, such as an IRS letter, refund delay, or IRS audit.
If you’re a professional tax preparer, do you KNOW FOR A FACT that you’d be able to assist your client with an unpleasant IRS event, or are you making an assumption that you have some rights in this area that you no longer have?
If you’re concerned about this issue, you’ll definitely want to read this blog post…
The Problem, by the Numbers
According to IRS statistics, nearly 90% of unenrolled tax professionals have lost their rights to speak to the IRS on behalf of your clients.
Here are the statistics right from the IRS itself and here is the “round number” summary of what you need to know:
- 735,000 people have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) in the USA.
- Of those 735,000 PTIN-holders, approximately 417,000 are “unenrolled” tax preparers. Compare this to 217,000 CPAs and 55,000 EAs and you’ll see that the majority of tax professionals are unenrolled preparers.
- Of the approximately 417,000 unenrolled tax preparers, only 54,485 claimed their “Annual Filing Season Program” (AFSP) credential for calendar year 2017.
The IRS started the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) back in 2014.
It’s now 2017, and they still only have a 13% participation rate?
Clearly, many tax preparers don’t see the value in “bothering with” getting the AFSP credential. After all, some of us tax preparers think to ourselves,It’s not mandatory, and I already deal with enough paperwork hassle. Why add another credential that I don’t even understand what it means or why it benefits me and my clients?
Well, I’m about to tell you why those mysterious, “voluntary” AFSP letters are a lot more important than you might think, if you care deeply about protecting your clients.
The Humiliation of a Tax Preparer
Tax preparers, we’re generally pretty “hardened” people, once we’ve been in the field for a while. After all, we get hit from all sides:
- Clients constantly on our case to do the job better, faster, and cheaper
- The online do-it-yourself-online software companies portray us as irrelevant and outdated, according their portrayal we are just out during tax season hustling unsuspecting taxpayers trying to make a buck and then when it’s not tax season we go back to working as part-time plumbers (and that’s even more insulting to plumbers, LOL)
- President Trump wants simplify the tax code and tell us, “You’re fired!”
And the list goes on…people say it’s easy to be a tax pro…we think not.
Even tax preparers, though, despite our toughness and resiliency, we have a certain line that, once you cross it, we start to take stuff personally.
For example, one time one of our Pronto Tax School Members, a lady who had been doing taxes for over 20 years, called our Tax Education Hotline (310) 422 – 1283 and was just irate.
She proceeded to tell me about how she had contacted IRS to find out why her client’s tax refund was delayed…and the IRS wouldn’t provide her any information!
Some “low level CSR” at the IRS told her that she was no longer allowed to talk to the IRS about her client’s situation, because she wasn’t a participant in the IRS Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP).
She was calling us because she wanted to know what the heck this AFSP even was!?!?
For a tax professional in the game for more than 20 years, having to go back to the client and say “I can’t contact the IRS, you need to call them yourself” was the most a painful humiliation, as you might imagine.
If you can relate to this tax professional’s righteous anger, and you don’t want to end up in the same situation yourself, keep reading this blog post so that you can find out how to prevent yourself from being part of the 87% of tax pros who can’t contact IRS in your client’s time of need.
The New Rules Are Not the Same As the Old Rules
Before the IRS AFSP credential, an unenrolled preparer could contact the IRS regarding a tax return that you both prepared and signed.
After the IRS AFSP credential, as of January 1, 2016, unenrolled preparers have absolutely zero rights to represent clients with the IRS at any level, for any client, no matter if you prepared and signed the return or not.
Many tax preparers say they are confused about the AFSP, and that’s why they don’t bother getting it. And yes the rules of how to go about getting this obscure credential can be confusing, but the bottom line is very simple and clear: you only can contact IRS on behalf of your clients if you have this credential, period, no exceptions.
The Solution to AFSP Problem Is Super Easy and Super Cheap
Now for some good news! 🙂
You can regain and/or maintain your rights to contact IRS if and when your clients need help by completing a simple online tax course called the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP).
And–you knew I would get to this part sooner or later!–we have a great little Annual Filing Season Program course for you right here at Pronto Tax School.
The Pronto Tax School AFSP course is:
- Fully compliant with IRS guidelines
- The price is only $65
- It’s not incredibly boring like most tax courses
- It gets you all the tax update information you need before tax season
- We report your hours to IRS faster than any other education provider (often within 10 minutes of course completion), and
- We provide exact, detailed instructions about how to get your AFSP credential from IRS after you complete our course.
We take all the confusion out of the AFSP process to give you a valuable, fast, and easy way to maintain your right to represent your clients as a tax professional.
What’s the catch, you say?
Well, the only “catch” is that if you don’t complete your course by December 31, you will not have the AFSP credential for 2018.
This is a hard deadline that IRS strictly enforces, so you need get started on your course now, if you’re serious about maintaining your rights as a tax professional for 2018.
With December 31 coming up fast, there is no time to waste.
Or, if you have any further questions, feel free to reach our customer support team firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 422-1283.