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What is an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN)?

Updated for Tax Year 2020 / June 15, 2021 09:02 PM


OVERVIEW

An IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) is a number issued by the IRS to a professional tax preparer, such as Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) and Enrolled Agents (EAs). A PTIN is only required for professional tax preparers that accept payment to prepare tax returns. Individual taxpayers, including TurboTax customers, do not need a PTIN to file their own taxes.


Man in glasses smiling in an office setting.

An IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) is a number issued by the IRS to professional tax preparers, such as Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) and Enrolled Agents (EAs), who are paid for federal tax preparation services. Paid tax preparers must include this ID number on all federal tax returns they file with the IRS.

Do I need a PTIN?

Individual taxpayers are not required to have a PTIN to file taxes. In general, you need a PTIN if you:

  • Prepare or help prepare a federal tax return for someone else, AND
  • Receive payment for your tax preparation services

Unless you’re being paid for your services, you do not need a PTIN to prepare and file or e-file:

  • Your own tax return
  • A joint tax return for you and your spouse
  • Tax returns for friends and relatives
  • Any tax return while volunteering through an organization

If you're not being paid for tax preparation services, you are not required to have a PTIN, even if someone pays you to file or e-file their return.

Does an employee need a PTIN to prepare company taxes?

Sometimes an employee will be asked to help gather information or prepare a tax return for their company as part of their normal duties. Even though employees are compensated for their time, they are not required to have a PTIN. This is because the employee is not:

  • Paid specifically for tax preparation services
  • Required to sign the tax return as a paid preparer. Instead, an authorized officer of the company, such as a treasurer, will sign the return.

How do I find a tax preparer with a PTIN?

The IRS makes its directory of PTIN holders available for public search online. You can use the directory to find professional, credentialed tax preparers in your area.

The search result will give you the names, credentials, addresses, and distances of all PTIN holders in your area.

The directory does not list all tax return preparers with PTINs; it contains only tax preparers who,

  • Have a PTIN, AND
  • Hold a professional credential or have obtained an "Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion" from the IRS.

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