PTIN Tax Preparers -What do you call yourself?

A terminology guide for Registered Tax Preparers

The new IRS rules for Registered Tax Preparers have left professional tax preparers wondering about their official designation. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Regulations Governing Practice Before the Internal Revenue Service states this:

An example of an acceptable description for registered tax return preparers is “designated as a registered tax return preparer with the Internal Revenue Service.” (emphasis added)

From that we can conclude that the appropriate terminology used in reference to PTIN Tax Preparers is Registered Tax Return Preparer. Now you know what to put on your business cards.

Terms that do not accurately reflect the new IRS registered tax return preparer rules include:

  • PTIN Tax Preparer
  • IRS Certified Tax Preparer
  • IRS Tax Preparer

Terminology for Testing

Tax preparers who have registered under the new PTIN system have to take a test, exam, or examination. We looked at the rules to see exactly what the IRS registered tax preparer test is called. The IRS uses both competency exam and competency testing interchangeably like this:

Eligibility to Become a Registered Tax Return Preparer
An individual must pass a minimum competency examination and possess a current or otherwise valid PTIN or other prescribed identifying number to become a registered tax return preparer. The examination will be administered by, or administered under the oversight of, the IRS, similar to the special enrollment examinations for enrolled agents and enrolled retirement plan agents. After completing competency testing, tax return preparers will be subject to suitability checks to determine whether the tax return preparer has engaged in disreputable conduct…

The IRS uses the term competency exam most often. We’ve noticed the use of the terms PTIN Test and PTIN Exam online. These terms may be destined to become acceptable slang terms for the IRS exam just as PTIN Preparer may become acceptable slang for IRS Registered Tax Return Preparer. Once reason for the use of PTIN Preparer is that technically the designation as IRS Registered Tax Return Preparer is not effective until the preparer passes the competency exam.

Two IRS Registered Tax Return Preparer Examinations

When the IRS competency exam rules are fully implemented, there will be two IRS tax examinations for Registered Tax Return Preparers.

  1. The Wage and Non-business Income Form 1040 Series Examination
  2. The Wage and Small Business Income Form 1040 Series Examination

There hasn’t been a date set for implementation of either IRS Tax Exam, although the IRS has suggested that the Wage and Non-business test will be given in mid year 2011. The Wage and Small Business test will be implemented in later years.

You’re welcome to take our 20 question practice exam for PTIN Preparers.


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