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 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 and certified public accountants, if they are paid to prepare or aid in preparing all or substantially all 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 needs a PTIN, visit IRS.gov’s FAQ: Do I Need A PTIN

Apply or renew online

The online application process 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.

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. 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 doesn't have a Social Security number, you must complete an additional form as part of the PTIN application process: IRS Form 8946, PTIN Supplemental Application For Foreign Persons Without a Social Security Number.
  • If you don't 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 8945, PTIN 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'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: 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 IRS.gov’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 aren't 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 December 21, 2017