Nationwide, more than 310,000 tax return preparers still need to pass the test before December 31, 2013.
The RTRP test has been available since November 2011 and is being administered at 260 testing sites nationwide. However, if too many preparers delay, available seats will be scarce.
Tax professionals who are Enrolled Agents, Certified Public Accountants, and attorneys are exempt from the test, as are certain non-signing preparers and those who do not prepare the Form 1040 series.
To learn more about the test or to begin the scheduling process, preparers should go to www.irs.gov/taxpros/tests.
The test is one phase of a multi-year effort by the IRS to increase oversight of the tax professional industry and help ensure minimal competency levels among those who are paid tax return preparers. More than 60 percent of taxpayers use a tax preparer.
Under the new rules, all professional tax return preparers must register with the IRS, obtain a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN), and adhere to ethical standards. Starting January 1, 2014, only Registered Tax Return Preparers, Enrolled Agents, CPAs and attorneys will be authorized to prepare and sign individual tax returns.
There are 10,910 return preparers from Alabama who have obtained PTINS from the IRS. Of those, 5,965 must still pass a competency test. For most of these the appropriate test will be the RTRP test. More than 260 Alabama preparers already have taken the RTRP test and have become Registered Tax Return Preparers.
Certain preparers must also pass the new test and complete 15 hours of continuing education each year. For these preparers the IRS created a new credential: Registered Tax Return Preparer.