Big Changes in Tax CPE for Enrolled Agents and Tax Preparers

Effective January 1, 2012, only continuing education offered by approved IRS providers will be acceptable education for meeting the continuing education requirements of Enrolled Agents, tax return preparers and RTRPs (tax return preparers who have passed the IRS examination).

In addition, the IRS has added some stringent new requirements for course structure. The most notable being:

  • IRS publications can no longer be used as the course material for an IRS approved course. A number of continuing education providers, including ClientWhys, have courses that utilize Publication 17. Even though ClientWhys substantially subsidizes the material for our Krusemark Pub 17 course, we are discontinuing that course effective 12/31/2011. In place of that course we are now offering custom CPE Krusemark packages that meet the requirements for EAs, RTRPs and a special package for CA tax preparers that meets the IRS requirements and the CTEC requirements so that one course will satisfy both the IRS and CTEC requirements. CAUTION: Some providers may not be aware of the new ban on IRS publications as course material. Make sure you don't take a course that utilizes an IRS publication after 12/31/11.

  • All correspondence courses must be interactive. This has long been a requirement for CPA courses and the IRS has now also adopted that standard. Interactive courses provide review questions with feedback to incorrect answers prior to administering the exam questions. ClientWhys is an approved NASBA (for CPAs) provider and all of our courses have and will continue to be interactive.

The following are the IRS CPE requirements for the various categories of tax practitioners (CPAs and attorneys are exempt from these requirements and instead must meet the education requirements of their state licensing authority).

Registered Tax Return Preparers (RTRPs) and Federal Tax Preparers (have not yet passed the competency test) - The following IRS-approved CPEs must be successfully completed during the 2012 calendar in order to renew your PTIN for 2013.

  • 2 hours of ethics
  • 3 hours of federal tax law updates
  • 10 hours of federal tax law subjects

Enrolled Agents - The following are the IRS requirements for EAs, which must all be in federal tax subjects. Note: NAEA members must have 30 hours a year. However, the extra hours over and above the IRS requirement may include state taxation and practice management subjects.

  • 72 hours every three years (which includes 2 hours of ethics each year)
  • A minimum of 16 hours, of which 2 hours must be in ethics each year

California Registered Preparers - Tax preparers other than CPAs, EAs and attorneys must register each year with the California Tax Education Council (CTEC) in order to prepare tax returns within the state of California. In order to register, the tax preparer must have completed 20 hours of CTEC mandated tax CPE which includes:

  • The 15-hour federal RTRP requirements from a CTEC approved provider, which consist of:
    • 2 hours of ethics
    • 3 hours of federal tax law updates
    • 10 hours of federal tax law subjects
  • 5 Hours of CA Tax CE from a CTEC-approved provider

The IRS will maintain a public listing of all approved providers that will be available at after the first of the year.

The IRS will be tracking the CPE hours of each Enrolled Agent and Tax Preparer. Tax preparers who obtain CE from an approved provider will need to give their PTIN to the provider. Providers must report following information to the IRS for each course completed by a tax preparer or Enrolled Agent:

  • The PTIN of the attendee
  • The course number assigned by the IRS
  • The course completion date
  • The type of CE completed (ethics, update, other federal tax law)

Frequently Asked Questions

Is ClientWhys an approved IRS provider under the new program for tax preparers and Enrolled Agents?

Yes, ClientWhys immediately applied when the IRS approval site became available and was one of the first providers approved. Our IRS provider number is: VP8T3

When will ClientWhys have the IRS-approved Krusemark packaged courses available?

The packaged courses will be available immediately after the first of the year.

Why do I need to take continuing education courses?

The new IRS tax preparer program requires all tax preparers (except EAs, CPAs and attorneys) to complete the annual mandated CPE before they can register their PTIN each year. The CPE requirements did not take effect until 2012; so, prior to this, registration or reregistration did not include a CPE requirement. However, for 2012, it does.

How do I know if a course is IRS-approved?

The IRS assigns a number to each approved course. For instance, ClientWhys has an approved ethics correspondence course to which IRS assigned the number VP8T3-E-00002-12-S. The leading five digits is ClientWhys’ provider number, the E is for ethics and the 12 indicates it is an approved course for 2012. The course number will appear on your CPE certificate.

How are the course numbers handled for packaged courses like the Krusemark courses?

If you are taking a course that provides CPE credit in all three categories - ethics, update and other Federal tax studies - then three course numbers will appear on your CPE certificate (one for each category of study).

I am a California registered tax preparer. Will CPE hours from a Krusemark CPE package satisfy both the IRS and the CTEC requirements?

Yes, for 2012 and future years, CTEC requires you to take the same IRS education required and approved by the IRS plus 5 hours of CA tax law. These courses must be taken from a provider that is also approved by CTEC. ClientWhys will report the completion of the packaged course to both the IRS and CTEC.

I have not yet taken the RTRP course. Do you have a suggestion as when I should take that examination?

Personally I would suggest you wait until after April 15. At that point, you have the tax season under your belt and are probably the sharpest you will be for taking the test. With that said, the test is also open book (you will be provided a Pub 17 and the 1040 instructions to use while taking the course) and only 120 questions in the 2-hour allotted time. The test should be a piece of cake for any experienced tax preparer.

Click here to order the 2012 IRS Registered Tax Preparer 15 Hour Bundle CPE Course.  

Click here to order the 2012 CTEC Tax Preparer 20 Hour Bundle CPE Course.  

Click here to order the 2012 Enrolled Agent 24 Hour Bundle CPE Course.  

  • Lee Reams Sr.

  • Lee T. Reams is the Chief Technical Officer of ClientWhys. He is also an Enrolled Agent having managed a 600-plus client tax practice. Educated as an engineer, with a Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering, Lee left his engineering career in 1975 to expand his part-time tax practice into a full-time career.

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