What You Need to Know About the IRS Registered Tax Return Preparer Competency Test

The Dreaded RTRP Test Is Here!


We know that it seems like there have been more news releases for this test than for Lindsay Lohan’s arrests aired on TMZ.  However, please keep in mind we are just the messengers folks, just the messengers.  Now that the test is available to take, we thought it prudent to give an update as to the most recent details.  Let’s start at the top, so to speak, and work our way down to test day.

  • You must have a PTIN in order to register and take the test.  For those without one, CLICK HERE.
  • The cost of annually renewing your PTIN is $63 and the cost of applying for a new one is $64.25.
  • For those with a provisional PTIN, you have until Dec. 31st, 2013 to pass the IRS RTRP Competency Test.
  • For those without a provisional PTIN, you have until April 17th, 2012 to get one without having to first pass the IRS RTRP Competency Test (as it currently stands).
  • Who has to pass the RTRP Competency Test?  All individuals who prepare tax returns for compensation EXCEPT attorneys, enrolled agents, CPAs, supervised preparers, and those who do not prepare Form 1040 series returns (click here for a more detailed description)
  • Only certain tax return preparers will have to pass a background check (IRS will contact those individuals in the future and have not released any further details about it)
  • To register for the RTRP Competency Test, go to your online PTIN account on the IRS website.
  • The cost of the test is $116.
  • The test may be taken as many times as needed and at any time of the year except during the annual blackout period (April 1st- April 15th).
  • You have 2.5 hours to complete the test.
  • The test will cover the Form 1040 series & Ethics (click here for a more detailed breakdown), which is thoroughly covered in our Study Guide
  • The test is 120 questions long containing both multiple choice and true/false questions.
  • Only 100 of the 120 questions will be scored by the IRS.  The other 20 questions are “experimental” and will be identified as such.  These “experimental” questions will not count against your final score in any way.
  • The questions will cover content from the 2010 tax code through 03/31/2012.  After the annual blackout period (April 16th, 2012), the content on the test will switch over to the 2011 tax code.
  • Printed test results will be mailed to you within 60 days after your test date.
  • If you pass, you will only be notified that you passed and not given a score.
  • If you fail, you will be shown your score that is below the scaled passing score.  You will also receive diagnostic information to help in future test preparation.
  • During the test, you will have electronic access to IRS Publication 17, Form 1040, & Form 1040 Instructions.
  • No reference materials are allowed to be brought into the testing center.
  • Free alcoholic beverages will be provided at the testing center (just kidding!)

So what’cha waiting for, Christmas?  We hate to tell you but that has already come and gone!  lol  Buy our study guide now and start prepping yourself to pass the IRS RTRP Competency Test the first time!


Wondering what to expect on test day at Prometric? Check out this 6 minute video for the low-down on all the nitty gritty details.