With the 2014 filing season officially coming to a close there is a new season in town. Actually there are two seasons you should be aware of. 

PTIN renewal open season is tentatively scheduled to open on October 16th. This really is the beginning of the 2015 filing season. What also is important for the 2015 filing season is that this is the first year of the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) 

PTIN renewal season most tax preparers are aware of. There are however lots of questions regarding the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP). By definition the AFSP is an IRS effort recognize non-credentialed preparers to aspire to a higher degree of professionalism. Which is great but most preparers want to know what the benefits are. The main benefit is to distinguish yourself from other tax preparers which will allow you to gain and retain more customers... and provide them the most current information on the 2015 filing season. The key benefits are listed below. The main caveat is that you must complete the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) coursework by December 31st, 2014 to participate.

Some of the benefits of the Annual Filing Season Program Are: 

  • A record of completion directly from the IRS - this will be great to display in your place of business to show clients and potential clients that you are current and up to date for the 2015 filing season. 
  • Being listed in the “Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications” – this can be a great source for potential customers to find your services and also serve as a free medium of advertising.
  • Being sure that you receive all the critical updates for the 2015 filing season – many preparers already complete continuing education or professional development courses so by participating in the AFSP you will get all the benefits of the new updates plus tangible benefits of having the AFSP designation.
  • Limited representation rights, beginning in 2016, only the categories of preparers listed in the pubic directory will have the right to represent taxpayers before the IRS. (Attorneys and CPA’s and EA’s will continue to have unlimited representation rights.)
  • A designation that sets you apart from other tax preparers. You can use the AFSP designation on email signatures, letter head and other marketing materials. This can really help you stand out from other tax return prepares as you advertise and market yourself ad a professional tax return preparer.