Getting a PTIN

A preparer tax identification number (PTIN) is a requirement for anyone who is paid for preparing or helping to prepare all or substantially all of a federal tax return, claim for refund, or certain other IRS tax forms. You must renew your PTIN every year. 

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

For more information on who does and doesn’t need a PTIN, visit’s FAQ: Do I Need A PTIN

Apply or Renew Online

The online application on the IRS 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. You’ll also need to provide a credit or debit card number to pay the user fee. 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 and pay the user fee.

The IRS has a video series on the application process.

Apply By Mail

Mailed applications take about 4-6 weeks to process. 

Fill out IRS Form W-12, IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number . Be sure to include your user fee. 

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 charge 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 are a foreign person who does not have a Social Security number, you must complete an additional form as part of the PTIN application process: IRS Form 8946PTIN Supplemental Application For Foreign Persons Without a Social Security Number.
  • If you do not have a Social Security number because you’re a U.S. citizen who is a conscientious religious objector, you will need to complete and submit IRS Form 8945PTIN Supplemental Application For U.S. Citizens Without a Social Security Number Due To Conscientious Religious Objection
  • 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.
    • Providing false or misleading information could lead to prosecution and criminal penalties
    • If you are currently incarcerated for any felony conviction, generally you won’t be permitted to obtain or renew a PTIN. 

Tax Professional PTIN System – for applications and renewals

Form W-12, IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number – PTIN

IRS Number for PTIN Questions: 1-877-613-PTIN (7846)

The Annual Filing Season Program aims to recognize 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 will receive an Annual Filing Season Program – Record of Completion from the IRS. For further information, visit’s Annual Filing Season Program page.

Have a different tax issue?  Browse common issues and situations at Get Help.

Is your tax problem more complex?  If your issue is causing you financial hardship, you have tried repeatedly and are not receiving a response from the IRS, or you feel your taxpayer rights are being violated, consider contacting Taxpayer Advocate Service TAS.

Do you feel that you need help from a tax professional but can’t afford one? You may be eligible for representation from an attorney, certified public accountant CPA, or enrolled agent associated with a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic.

Last modified July 5, 2016