Annual Filing Season Program Overview

As we approach and work through another tax season, there are a few changes in the tax laws and changes based on inflation that tax preparers need to know to have a successful season and provide exceptional service to their clients.

The Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course is a 6-hour course followed by a 3-hour, 100 question exam. The IRS began requiring this course in 2015 as part of the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP), which is intended to recognize tax return preparers who would like to increase their knowledge and improve their competency through continuing education.


The AFTR course is required for non-exempt tax return preparers who wish to participate in the Annual Filing Season Program. In order for participants to receive the Annual Filing Season Program - Record of Completion, non-exempt preparers must complete this course along with, 2 hours of Ethics and 10 hours of Federal Tax Law courses. All AFSP requirements must be completed prior to midnight on December 31st of each year. In order to see if you are exempt from this course, visit the IRS Publication 5646 - Annual Filing Season Program Participants Continuing Education Requirements.


By completing the AFTR course and earning the AFSP Record of Completion, non-exempt preparers gain limited representation rights for clients whose returns they prepared during an examination by the IRS, as long as they are also a current AFSP participant at the time. Visit: IRS AFSP - Record of Completion requirements to learn more.


The 2024 AFTR course consists of 3 domains:

Domain 1 - New Tax Law/Recent Updates

Domain 2 - General Review

Domain 3 - Practices, Procedures, and Professional Responsibility


Course completion Examination Information:

  • 100 question, multiple-choice examination
  • 3 hour duration
  • Open book
  • Four chances to pass the exam with a score of 70% or higher.
  • Must be completed by December 31, 202. 

Upon completion of these requirements, the preparer will be required to sign consent to adhere to the provisions of Circular 230 before receiving the Annual Filing Season Program – Record of Completion from the IRS.

Annual Filing Season Program participants are included in a public database of return preparers on the IRS website. The Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications includes the name, city, state, ZIP Code, and credentials of all attorneys, CPAs, enrolled agents, enrolled retirement plan agents and enrolled actuaries with a valid PTIN, as well as all Annual Filing Season Program – Record of Completion holders.

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