The Ultimate Guide to the 2024 Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP)

By WebCE
Jun 19, 2024

The 2024 AFSP Renewal Season Has Arrived

The 2024 Annual Filing Season Program Renewal Season is here, and WebCE’s Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course is now available!

WebCE’s guide to the IRS’ Annual Filing Season Program covers everything you need to know, including top benefits, all requirements, and how to start earning this credential today!

What is the IRS Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP)?

The IRS created the voluntary Annual Filing Season Program and its Record of Completion certificate for non-credentialed tax return preparers to sharpen expertise and better compete for clients.

In short, the program aims to encourage and recognize uncredentialed tax preparers who aspire to a higher level of professionalism by completing continuing education (CE). The program is not required and, in fact, was created as a professional development path for ambitious tax professionals looking to gain a competitive edge in the industry.

Once the program is completed, the IRS awards an Annual Filing Season Program – Record of Completion (ASFP – RoC).

Plus, the IRS includes all program participants in their public database, the IRS Federal Tax Return Preparers Database. This database only includes attorneys, certified public accountants (CPAs), enrolled agents (EAs), enrolled retirement plan agents (ERPAs), enrolled actuaries, and preparers with an ASFP – RoC Earning this credential and being included in the IRS database are two powerful tools to build credibility and grow business.

Top 3 Benefits of an AFSP – Record of Completion in 2024

Earning an AFSP – Record of Completion offers several benefits, including:

Competitive Edge

The AFSP was designed to increase a preparer’s competency and expertise. Think of it as a professional development opportunity for preparers looking to differentiate themselves from their competition. As a potential client decides which preparer to work with, industry credentials are one of the best ways to stand out.

The program keeps preparers sharp through annually required continuing education (CE). Continuing education is a common and effective way for industries to develop industry skills and knowledge while updating professionals on the latest best practices and regulations. While CE stands for continuing education, it could just as easily stand for “competitive edge.”

Participants in the ASFP must renew the credential each year. This helps professionals stay updated and informed on the latest in the industry.

Click here to view the complete ASFP requirements.

Representation Rights

Tax preparers with a PTIN that do not have the AFSP – RoC or an additional IRS-recognized credential are limited to only preparing tax returns or representing returns prepared before December 31, 2015.

Why this date? On January 1, 2016, the IRS changed representations rights. Today, preparers without an AFSP – RoC cannot represent clients in front of the IRS. This means clients facing an IRS review of their tax returns are left to turn elsewhere or defend themselves.

Preparers that earn an AFSP – RoC have limited representation rights. Specifically, they can represent clients whose returns they prepared and signed. That said, they are limited to representing clients before revenue agents, customer service representatives, the Taxpayer Advocate Service, and other similar IRS employees. Only attorneys, CPAs, and enrolled agents (EAs) have unlimited representation rights before the IRS.

IRS Endorsement

An ASFP – Record of Completion is an IRS certification of knowledge and skills, something that can offer professional credibility and client peace of mind. Staying sharp by participating in the AFSP gives confidence to both clients and preparers.

Not only will the ASFP – RoC look great on your wall or website, the IRS offers free marketing on the IRS Federal Tax Return Preparers Database. The IRS promotes the directory as a way for taxpayers to find preparers with proven industry credentials.

Taxpayers can search the database by ZIP code to find credentialed professionals near them, amounting to free marketing for program participants.

These IRS endorsements help promote the expertise of all program participants, helping them stand out from the crowd and grow their careers.

2024 IRS Annual Filing Season Program Requirements

Earning an IRS Annual Filing Season – Record of Completion has three steps:

1. Complete all Required CE by 11:59 pm, December 31st

Earning an ASFP – Record of Completion requires non-exempt participants to complete 18 hours of continuing education (CE) from an IRS-approved AFSP CE provider like WebCE. CE hours must be completed by December 31 to earn an AFSP – ROC for the following year.

The AFSP requires non-exempt participants to complete the following CE Course hours:

  • 2024 Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course (6 hours) - Per IRS regulations, this course is only available June 1 - December 31
  • Federal Tax Law Courses (10 hours)
  • Ethics (2 hours) - Excess ethics credits will not be applied to cover any other subject areas

The 2024 Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course has different rules than the other sections because it is not available until June 1. The due date for all CE hours, including the AFTR course, is December 31.

In other words, to earn this credential for 2025, all CE must be completed by December 31, 2024.

2. Renew Your PTIN (Preparer Tax Identification Number)

Tax preparers who prepare taxes for profit must renew their PTIN between October 16 – December 31 each year.

Click here to login to your PTIN account. Once logged in, select “Renew my PTIN” and follow the prompts.

Preparers without an online PTIN account can create one on the PTIN login page by clicking “Create An Account.”

Linking a new online account to an existing PTIN requires an activation code. These codes are often automatically sent out during open season. Preparers can also contact the PTIN helpline to get an activation code.

3. Consent to the Obligation in Circular 230 Through Your Online PTIN Account

After completing all required CE and renewing your PTIN for the following year, the IRS will email instructions (from the email address [email protected]) on how to consent to the Circular 230 requirements. Preparers must consent to adhere to certain practice obligations outlined in Treasury Department Circular No. 230.

An AFSP – ROC will not be given until this consent is received.

Once each of these requirements has been met, the IRS will notify the preparer when the ROC is available in their PTIN mailbox. Preparers without an online PTIN account will receive a letter from the IRS with instructions for completing the application process for obtaining their certificate.

Who is Exempt from the AFSP Requirements?

Certain preparers are exempt from the AFTR course requirement since their competency is already recognized with other credentials they hold. Examples of qualified exempt preparers include attorneys, CPAs, and EAs.

In total, exempt participants must complete 15 hours of CE by December 31. This includes:

  • Federal Tax Law Updates (3 hours) - Excess Law Updates credits will be applied to cover the Tax Topics Subject area
  • Federal Tax Topics (10 hours) Ethics (2 hours) - Excess
  • Ethics credits will not be applied to cover any other subject areas

For exempt participants, the 6-hour AFTR course is replaced with a 3-hour Federal Tax Law Updates course. They must still complete 10 hours in Federal Tax Topics along with 2 hours of ethics. All of which are due by December 31 of each year.

Here is a full breakdown of all qualified exempt preparers:

2024 IRS Refund Payment Calendar

More than 90% of tax refunds are delivered less than 21 days after tax returns are processed. The tax refund payment calendar below offers a rough estimate of when to expect a tax refund by direct deposit (approximately 14 days) and paper check by mail (approximately 21 days).

Refunds may be delayed if filed in mid-March through April due to the high volume of filings the IRS receives around this time.

Tax Preparer

Examination Requirement


Exempt with current credential.

Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

Exempt with current CPA credential.

Enrolled Agent (EA)

Exempt with current EA credential.

Former IRS RTRP (Registered Tax Return Preparers)

Exempt if the RTRP test was passed before January 2013.

Passed IRS Special Enrollment Exam (SEE) Part 1

Exempt if passed within past 3 calendar years.

California Tax Education Council (CTEC)

Exempt if currently registered with CTEC. Find out here.

Enrolled Retirement Plan Agent (ERPA)

Exempt with current ERPA credential.

Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation (ACAT)

Exempt with current ATP (Accredited Tax Preparer) or ABA (Accredited Business Accountant/Advisor) credential.

IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistant (VITA)

Exempt if passed basic or advanced VITA exam with active PTIN.

Oregon Board of Tax Practitioners

Exempt if currently registered with Oregon. Find out here.

Maryland State Board of Individual Tax Preparers

Exempt if passed Maryland exam or currently registered. Find out here.


See the IRS’ Annual Filing Season CE Chart for more information.

Where to Take AFSP Continuing Education Online

AFSP CE may only be completed with an IRS-approved CE provider, like WebCE.

WebCE offers a comprehensive catalog of online tax preparer CE and CPE courses to help you meet all ASFP CE requirements—including the newly updated 2024 Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course. As a reminder, the 2024 AFTR course is only available from June 1 – December 31.

To start earning your AFSP – Record of Completion, visit our ASFP CE catalog or call our award-winning Support Services at 877-488-9308 today!