Getting a PTIN


A preparer tax identification number (PTIN) is generally required for anyone who is paid for preparing or helping to prepare all or substantially all a federal tax return, claim for refund, or certain other IRS tax forms. See the FAQs: Do I Need A PTIN? for the list of returns, claims for refund, and other tax forms submitted to the IRS for which you do not need to obtain a PTIN. You must renew your PTIN every year. 

All enrolled agents must get PTINs, as well as attorneys and certified public accountants, if they are paid to prepare or aid in preparing all or substantially all of a federal tax return or claim for refund.  Enrolled retirement plan agents may need a PTIN, depending on the types of forms you prepare for compensation. 

Apply or renew online

The online application process on the IRS's Tax Professional PTIN System takes around 15 minutes. If you don’t have an account, you’ll need to create one.

The application will ask for personal and business information. If you’re renewing your PTIN, it will review answers you provided last year. Please edit as appropriate. 

If you apply online, you’ll generally get your PTIN immediately after you complete the application.

Note:  PTINs are issued for a specific calendar year. A current year PTIN refers to a PTIN for the current calendar year while next year refers to a PTIN for the upcoming calendar year. PTIN applications for the upcoming year can be submitted beginning in mid-October each year.

Apply by mail

Mailed applications take about four to six weeks to process. 

Fill out IRS Form W-12, IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) Application and Renewal.

Note: All PTIN correspondence is delivered through secure online messaging in your PTIN account. Use the most up-to-date email address when obtaining your PTIN to be sure you get all messages.

You need to have your PTIN before you can accept payment from clients to prepare their federal tax returns, claims for refund, and certain other tax forms. Failure to have a current PTIN could result in action from the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility, such as penalties, injunctions, and disciplinary action under Internal Revenue Code section 6695. 

Special Circumstances

  • If you're a foreign person who doesn't have a Social Security number, you must complete and submit an additional form as part of the PTIN application process. :you must submit IRS Form 8946, PTIN Supplemental Application For Foreign Persons Without a Social Security Number, along with original documents to verify the information on your Form 8946. If you prefer not to send your original documents, you may send certified or notarized copies. There are instructions on how to apply in the IRS Form 8946 instructions.
  • If you don't have a Social Security number because you’re a U.S. citizen who is a conscientious religious objector, you'll need to complete and submit IRS Form 8945, PTIN Supplemental Application For U.S. Citizens Without a Social Security Number Due To Conscientious Religious Objection, along with the original documents to verify the information on your Form 8945. If you prefer not to send your original documents, you may send certified or notarized copies. There are instructions on how to apply in the IRS Form 8945 instructions. 
  • If you're renewing without a Social Security number, you don't need to resubmit Form 8945 or Form 8946. You're, however, required to enter your date of birth on line 3 of Form W-12, IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) Application and Renewal.
  • The PTIN application asks if you have had a felony conviction. A past conviction may not necessarily disqualify you from getting a PTIN. 
    • You’ll need to provide all the details of your conviction(s) on the application, so the IRS will know all the facts and circumstances.  The IRS will contact you, if it needs additional information.
    • Providing false or misleading information could lead to prosecution and criminal penalties
    • If you're currently incarcerated for any felony conviction, generally you won’t be permitted to obtain or renew a PTIN. 

Tax Professional PTIN System

Form W-12, IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) Application and Renewal

Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN)

IRS Number for PTIN Questions:

US 877-613-PTIN (7846) TTY/TDD 877-613-3686
INTL 915-342-5655 (non-toll free) 
Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm CST

The Annual Filing Season Program recognizes the efforts of non-credentialed return preparers who want to reach a higher level of professionalism. You can meet the requirements by obtaining 18 hours of continuing education, including a six-hour federal tax law refresher course with a test, and you'll receive an Annual Filing Season Program – Record of Completion from the IRS. For further information, visit IRS.gov’s Annual Filing Season Program page.

Browse common tax issues and situations at Get Help.

If your IRS problem is causing you financial hardship, you've tried repeatedly and aren't receiving a response from the IRS, or you feel your taxpayer rights aren't being respected, consider contacting Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS).

You may be eligible for representation from an attorney, certified public accountant (CPA), or enrolled agent (EA) associated with a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC). LITCs also provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language.

Last modified September 20, 2018