Instructions for IRS Form W-12 "IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number (Ptin) Application and Renewal"

This document contains official instructions for IRS Form W-12, IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number (Ptin) Application and Renewal - a tax form released and collected by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a subdivision of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. An up-to-date fillable IRS Form W-12 is available for download through this link.

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Instructions for Form W-12
(Revised May 2021)
IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) Application and Renewal
Section references are to the Internal Revenue Code unless
General Instructions
otherwise noted.
Purpose Of Form
Future Developments
Use this form to apply for or renew a PTIN.
For the latest information about developments related to Form
W-12 and its separate instructions, such as legislation enacted
Use and Availability of Information on
after they were published, go to IRS.gov/FormW12.
This Form
What's New
The Freedom of Information Act requires that certain information
from this application be made available to the general public. This
New mailing address. The address for submitting your
includes, but may not be limited to, the following information.
application by mail has changed. See How To File, later.
● Name.
Fee Required. A fee is now required to apply for or renew a
PTIN. See the instructions for Line 13, later.
● Business Name.
● Business Address.
Reminders
● Business Phone Number.
SSN question. If you did not have an SSN when you initially
obtained a PTIN, you must now provide information on whether
● Business Website Address.
you have received an SSN. See the instructions for Line 3, later.
● Professional Credentials.
Voluntary Inactivating/Reactivating PTIN. An individual who no
longer prepares any federal tax returns for compensation may
Who Must File
request his or her PTIN be placed in inactive status at any time.
Anyone who is a paid tax return preparer must apply for and
For more information on voluntarily inactivating or reactivating
receive a PTIN. EAs also must obtain a PTIN. The PTIN must be
your PTIN, see Voluntarily Inactivate PTIN, later, or review
renewed annually. For purposes of determining who must obtain
information available at IRS.gov/PTIN.
a PTIN, a tax return preparer is any individual who is
Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials
compensated for preparing, or assisting in the preparation of, all
and Select Qualifications. The IRS has a public listing on the
or substantially all of a tax return or claim for refund of tax.
IRS website of PTIN holders who are attorneys, CPAs, EAs,
How To File
enrolled retirement plan agents, and enrolled actuaries, as well as
individuals who successfully completed the requirements to
Online. Go to the webpage
IRS.gov/PTIN
for information. Follow
participate in the Annual Filing Season Program. The searchable
the instructions to submit Form W-12. If you submit your
listing includes the individual's name, city, state, and zip code.
application and payment online, your PTIN generally will be
The city and state of the business address you enter on line 5a of
provided to you immediately after you complete the application.
this form will be the address reflected in the online Directory of
By mail. Complete Form W-12. Send the form and payment to:
Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select
IRS Tax Professional PTIN Processing Center
Qualifications if you meet the qualifications for inclusion. If you
PO Box 380638
have more than one business location, enter your primary
San Antonio, TX 78268
business location address. See the Line 12 instructions for the
Note. Allow 4 to 6 weeks for processing of PTIN applications.
definitions of professional credentials and select qualifications,
later.
Specific Instructions
Telephone help. If you have questions about completing this
It is important to follow these instructions. If your application is
form or the status of your application or renewal, you may call the
incomplete, the IRS will request that you supply the missing
following phone numbers. If calling from the United States, call
information within a specified time. The IRS will be unable to
1-877-613-PTIN (7846). For TTY/TDD assistance, call
process your application if you do not provide the missing
1-877-613-3686. If calling internationally, call +1 915-342-5655
information.
(not a toll-free number). Telephone help generally is available
Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Central time.
Line 1. Enter your legal name. This entry should reflect your
name as it appears on your tax return and as it will be entered on
Photographs of Missing Children
tax returns that you are paid to prepare. If you are renewing your
PTIN, enter the PTIN you received after you first filed Form W-12.
The IRS is a proud partner with the National Center for Missing
and Exploited Children. Photographs of missing children selected
Voluntarily Inactivate PTIN. An individual who does not expect
by the Center may appear in instructions on pages that would
to prepare federal tax returns for compensation for a
otherwise be blank. You can help bring these children home by
full calendar year may request to be placed in an inactive status.
looking at the photographs and calling 1-800-THE-LOST
You can inactivate your PTIN by accessing your online PTIN
(1-800-843-5678) if you recognize a child.
account at
IRS.gov/PTIN
and selecting the Inactivate
PTIN function under the Manage My PTIN Account section. You
can reactivate your PTIN within 3 years by selecting the
Reactivate PTIN function in your online PTIN account.
Catalog Number 59933W
Instructions for Form W-12
(Revised May 2021)
IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) Application and Renewal
Section references are to the Internal Revenue Code unless
General Instructions
otherwise noted.
Purpose Of Form
Future Developments
Use this form to apply for or renew a PTIN.
For the latest information about developments related to Form
W-12 and its separate instructions, such as legislation enacted
Use and Availability of Information on
after they were published, go to IRS.gov/FormW12.
This Form
What's New
The Freedom of Information Act requires that certain information
from this application be made available to the general public. This
New mailing address. The address for submitting your
includes, but may not be limited to, the following information.
application by mail has changed. See How To File, later.
● Name.
Fee Required. A fee is now required to apply for or renew a
PTIN. See the instructions for Line 13, later.
● Business Name.
● Business Address.
Reminders
● Business Phone Number.
SSN question. If you did not have an SSN when you initially
obtained a PTIN, you must now provide information on whether
● Business Website Address.
you have received an SSN. See the instructions for Line 3, later.
● Professional Credentials.
Voluntary Inactivating/Reactivating PTIN. An individual who no
longer prepares any federal tax returns for compensation may
Who Must File
request his or her PTIN be placed in inactive status at any time.
Anyone who is a paid tax return preparer must apply for and
For more information on voluntarily inactivating or reactivating
receive a PTIN. EAs also must obtain a PTIN. The PTIN must be
your PTIN, see Voluntarily Inactivate PTIN, later, or review
renewed annually. For purposes of determining who must obtain
information available at IRS.gov/PTIN.
a PTIN, a tax return preparer is any individual who is
Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials
compensated for preparing, or assisting in the preparation of, all
and Select Qualifications. The IRS has a public listing on the
or substantially all of a tax return or claim for refund of tax.
IRS website of PTIN holders who are attorneys, CPAs, EAs,
How To File
enrolled retirement plan agents, and enrolled actuaries, as well as
individuals who successfully completed the requirements to
Online. Go to the webpage
IRS.gov/PTIN
for information. Follow
participate in the Annual Filing Season Program. The searchable
the instructions to submit Form W-12. If you submit your
listing includes the individual's name, city, state, and zip code.
application and payment online, your PTIN generally will be
The city and state of the business address you enter on line 5a of
provided to you immediately after you complete the application.
this form will be the address reflected in the online Directory of
By mail. Complete Form W-12. Send the form and payment to:
Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select
IRS Tax Professional PTIN Processing Center
Qualifications if you meet the qualifications for inclusion. If you
PO Box 380638
have more than one business location, enter your primary
San Antonio, TX 78268
business location address. See the Line 12 instructions for the
Note. Allow 4 to 6 weeks for processing of PTIN applications.
definitions of professional credentials and select qualifications,
later.
Specific Instructions
Telephone help. If you have questions about completing this
It is important to follow these instructions. If your application is
form or the status of your application or renewal, you may call the
incomplete, the IRS will request that you supply the missing
following phone numbers. If calling from the United States, call
information within a specified time. The IRS will be unable to
1-877-613-PTIN (7846). For TTY/TDD assistance, call
process your application if you do not provide the missing
1-877-613-3686. If calling internationally, call +1 915-342-5655
information.
(not a toll-free number). Telephone help generally is available
Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Central time.
Line 1. Enter your legal name. This entry should reflect your
name as it appears on your tax return and as it will be entered on
Photographs of Missing Children
tax returns that you are paid to prepare. If you are renewing your
PTIN, enter the PTIN you received after you first filed Form W-12.
The IRS is a proud partner with the National Center for Missing
and Exploited Children. Photographs of missing children selected
Voluntarily Inactivate PTIN. An individual who does not expect
by the Center may appear in instructions on pages that would
to prepare federal tax returns for compensation for a
otherwise be blank. You can help bring these children home by
full calendar year may request to be placed in an inactive status.
looking at the photographs and calling 1-800-THE-LOST
You can inactivate your PTIN by accessing your online PTIN
(1-800-843-5678) if you recognize a child.
account at
IRS.gov/PTIN
and selecting the Inactivate
PTIN function under the Manage My PTIN Account section. You
can reactivate your PTIN within 3 years by selecting the
Reactivate PTIN function in your online PTIN account.
Catalog Number 59933W
If you do not have an online account, you may call the number
Line 2 of Form 8946 must contain a non-U.S. physical
!
address. This address cannot be a P.O. box. If a P.O. box is
listed under the Telephone help, earlier, for additional assistance.
listed on line 2a of the Form 8946, your application will be
EAs must maintain a current PTIN in order to maintain their
CAUTION
rejected and returned to you.
TIP
EA credential and should not inactivate their PTIN unless they
You must also enter your SSN if you have been assigned one
retire.
since obtaining your PTIN. If you still do not have an SSN, check
the box.
Line 2. If you are applying for a new PTIN after October 1, you
Line 4. Enter your complete personal mailing address and phone
must indicate whether you want your PTIN to be valid for
the current calendar year or the next calendar year. If you select
number.
the current calendar year, your PTIN is valid until
If you obtained your PTIN using Form 8946 and you still do not
December 31 of the current year. If you select the next calendar
have a SSN, your address must be outside the U.S.
year, your PTIN will not be valid until January 1 of the next
If the U.S. Postal Service will not deliver mail to your physical
calendar year.
TIP
location, enter the U.S. Postal Service post office box number
Note. If you do not select a calendar year, then your PTIN
for your mailing address. Contact your local U.S. Post Office
application will be processed for the current calendar year.
for more information. Do not use a post office box owned by
a private firm or company. Most PTIN correspondence will be sent to your
Prior-Year Renewals. If you checked the “Renewal
email address. However, any paper PTIN correspondence will be sent to
application” box in line 1 and need to renew for a prior calendar
the personal mailing address listed on line 4.
year, you must indicate this by entering the year (YYYY format) in
Line 5a. Enter your business address if it is different from the
the “Prior year” box and listing each prior calendar year in the
address entered on line 4. Entering the business phone number is
space(s) provided. Complete a single Form W-12 for multiple
optional.
calendar years, for which you are applying for a prior-year PTIN.
If you obtained your PTIN using Form 8946 and you still do not
If your PTIN has been in an expired status for more than 1 full
have a SSN, your address must be outside the U.S.
calendar year, you must renew for each previously expired year
unless you were inactive during any one of those calendar years.
Note. The business address listed on line 5a will be reflected in
the online Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with
If you were inactive during any one of those prior calendar
Credentials and Select Qualifications if you meet the
years but did not place your PTIN into voluntary inactive status,
qualifications for inclusion. If you have more than one business
you can retroactively do so by following the instructions under
location, enter your primary business location address.
Voluntarily Inactivate PTIN, earlier.
Line 5b. If you are self-employed or an owner, partner, or officer
If your PTIN has been inactive or expired for more than 3
!
of a tax return preparation business, enter your applicable
consecutive years, you must submit a new registration
identification numbers. Make sure to enter any letters that are part
application to obtain an active PTIN.
CAUTION
of your Centralized Authorization File (CAF) number. If you have
multiple Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) or Electronic
Line 3. Enter your social security number (SSN) and date of birth.
Filer Identification Numbers (EFINs), enter the number that is
Applicants must be at least 18 years of age to apply.
used most frequently on returns you prepare. Entering the
Applying without an SSN. If you do not have an SSN
business website address is optional.
because you are either a U.S. citizen who is a conscientious
Line 6. Enter the email address we should use if we need to
religious objector or a foreign individual, you will need to complete
contact you about matters regarding this form.
and submit additional information either online or by mail in order
to obtain a PTIN.
We will also send PTIN related emails with general information,
reminders, and requirements. Any valid email address that you
U.S. citizen who is a conscientious religious objector. If
check regularly for PTIN communications is acceptable.
you are a U.S. citizen who does not have an SSN because you
have a conscientious religious objection to having an SSN, you
Line 7. You must check Yes or No. You are required to fully
must complete an additional form as part of the PTIN application
disclose any information concerning prior felony convictions. A
process. The form you must complete is Form 8945, PTIN
felony conviction may not necessarily disqualify you from having a
Supplemental Application For U.S. Citizens Without a Social
PTIN. However, generally, an individual who is currently
Security Number Due To Conscientious Religious Objection. On
incarcerated for any felony conviction will not be permitted to
Form 8945, you will verify information about your identity,
obtain or renew a PTIN.
citizenship, and conscientious religious objection. See Form 8945
Use the space in line 7 to provide details of your prior felony
for instructions on completing and submitting the form and the
conviction(s). All facts and circumstances will be considered. You
required documents.
will be contacted if additional information is needed.
Foreign persons. If you are a foreign person who does not
have an SSN, you must provide additional identity proofing
Providing false or misleading information on this form is a
!
criminal offense that may result in prosecution and criminal
documents as part of the PTIN application process. A foreign
penalties.
person is an individual who does not have and is not eligible to
CAUTION
obtain an SSN and is neither a citizen of the United States nor a
resident alien of the United States as defined in section 7701(b)
Line 8. If you have an SSN and are requesting a PTIN but have
(1)(A). You can apply online or complete Form 8946, PTIN
never filed a U.S. income tax return, see below for additional
Supplemental Application For Foreign Persons Without a Social
requirements.
Security Number. On Form 8946, you will verify information about
Never filed a U.S. tax return. If you have an SSN and are
your foreign status and identity. See Form 8946 for instructions
applying for a PTIN and any of the statements below apply to
on completing and submitting the form and the required
your current U.S. situation, then you must submit a paper PTIN
documents.
application along with two identity verification documents. See
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Required Supporting ID Documentation below. When submitting
Line 9. If you filed your most recent individual income tax return
supporting ID documentation, you can either submit online or by
more than 4 years ago, see the line 8 instructions above for
mail. You must submit an original, certified, or notarized copy of
information on how to submit Form W-12 and the supporting
your social security card along with an original, certified, or
identification documents that must accompany your submission.
notarized copy of one other government-issued document that
Line 10. You must check Yes or No. Taxpayers are required to
contains a current photo ID.
be in full compliance with federal tax laws, including filing all
1. You have never filed a U.S. income tax return.
returns and paying all taxes, or making payment arrangements
acceptable to the IRS. The filing of a tax return and the payment
2. You have not filed a U.S. income tax return in the past 4 years.
of the tax liability associated with that return are two separate and
3. You do not have a U.S. income tax filing requirement (such as
distinct requirements under the Internal Revenue Code, which
certain individuals from Puerto Rico).
must be satisfied within the periods specified for each taxable
period in which you have a legal obligation to file.
Required Supporting ID Documentation. You can either
submit supporting ID documentation online or by mail.
Use this space in line 10 to provide the details of any
noncompliance, including the steps you have taken to resolve the
Online uploads. To submit supporting ID documents online,
issue. Providing false or misleading information on this form is a
follow the online prompts to upload certified or notarized copies of
criminal offense that may result in prosecution and criminal
acceptable documentation.
penalties. In addition, providing false or misleading information is
Submitting paper Form W-12 and supporting documents.
a separate ground to deny your application for a PTIN or
Documents must be original, certified, or notarized. One
terminate it after it has been assigned. All the facts and
document must be government-issued and contain a current
circumstances as related in your explanation will be considered.
photo ID. Examples of acceptable supporting documents are
You will be contacted if additional information is needed.
listed below. All documents must be current (not expired), and
If you have never filed a U.S. individual income tax return
must verify your name. If you submit copies of documents that
because you were not required to do so, check the “Yes” box.
display information on both sides, copies of both the front and
back of the document(s) must be submitted either online or by
Line 11. Check the box to confirm awareness of your
mail.
responsibility to protect taxpayer information.
Examples of acceptable supporting documents.
Additional Resources:
● Passport/Passport Card.
● Pub. 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data
● Driver's License.
● Pub. 5417, Basic Security Plan
● U.S. State ID Card.
IRS.gov/IdentityTheft
● Military ID Card.
● IRS.gov, keyword: Protect Your Clients Protect Yourself
● National ID Card.
Note. Enrolled Agents who do not prepare returns may skip
line 11.
To avoid any loss of your original documents, it is suggested
TIP
you do not submit the original documents.
Line 12. Check the appropriate boxes to indicate your
professional credentials. Check all boxes that apply. Do not
check any professional credentials that are currently expired or
Note. See Form 8946 and instructions for information
retired. Retired or expired credentials are those that are not valid
regarding certification/notarization of foreign documents.
or active at the time of the application. Include the licensing
A certified copy is a document that the original issuing agency
number, jurisdiction, and expiration date. If the expiration date is
provides and certifies as an exact copy of the original
left blank or incomplete, that specific credential will not be added
document and contains an official seal from the issuing agency.
during the processing of your application. Select only from the
Certified documents have a stamp and/or an ink seal (may or may
professional credentials listed below. There is no write-in option. If
not be raised). All certifications must stay attached to the copies
you do not have any professional credentials, check the “None”
of the documents when they are sent to the IRS.
box.
A notarized copy is one that has been notarized by a U.S.
Recognized professional credentials include the following.
notary public, U.S. government military officer (JAG Officer), U.S.
Attorney. An attorney is any individual who is licensed to
State Department, U.S. Consul/Embassy Employee, or by a
practice law by the bar of the highest court of any state, territory,
notary legally authorized within his or her local jurisdiction to
or possession of the United States, including a commonwealth, or
certify that each document is a true copy of the original. To do
the District of Columbia.
this, the notary must see the valid, unaltered, original documents
and the copies must bear the mark (stamp, signature, etc.) of the
Certified Public Accountant (CPA). A CPA is any individual
notary. Notarized documents may or may not have a signature
who is duly qualified to practice as a CPA in any state, territory, or
but will have a stamp and usually a raised seal.
possession of the United States, including a commonwealth, or
the District of Columbia.
If submitting Form 8945 or Form 8946 with the Form W-12,
!
refer to those form instructions for required documentation.
Enrolled Agent (EA). An EA is any individual enrolled as an
agent who is not currently under suspension or disbarment from
CAUTION
practice before the IRS. EAs are licensed by the IRS.
Where to send the completed PTIN application. Send the
Enrolled Actuary. An enrolled actuary is any individual who is
completed Form W-12 with the required documentation and
enrolled as an actuary by the Joint Board for the Enrollment of
payment to the mailing address listed under How To File, earlier.
Actuaries.
If your application is not complete and you do not supply the
required information upon request, the IRS will be unable to
process your application.
-3-
Enrolled Retirement Plan Agent (ERPA). An ERPA is any
Privacy Act and Paperwork Reduction Act Notice. We ask for
individual enrolled as a retirement plan agent who is not currently
the information on this form to carry out the Internal Revenue
under suspension or disbarment from practice before the IRS.
laws of the United States. This information will be used to issue a
Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Our authority to
State Regulated Tax Return Preparer. A state regulated tax
collect this information is found in section 3710 of the Internal
return preparer is any individual who remains current with certain
Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 and
state-based tax return preparer programs. Tax return preparers
Internal Revenue Code section 6109. Under section 6109, tax
who are registered with the following will fall into this category.
return preparers are required to provide their identification
● Oregon Board of Tax Practitioners.
numbers on what they prepare. Applying for a PTIN is mandatory
● California Tax Education Council.
if you prepare U.S. tax returns for compensation. Providing
incomplete information may delay or prevent processing of this
● Maryland State Board of Individual Tax Preparers.
application; providing false or fraudulent information may subject
Note. The above list of participating state programs is subject to
you to penalties.
change. For the most up-to-date information on participating
You are not required to provide the information requested on a
states, visit IRS.gov/PTIN.
form that is subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act unless the
Certifying Acceptance Agent (CAA). A CAA is an individual
form displays a valid OMB control number. Books or records
or entity (college, financial institution, accounting firm, etc.) that
relating to a form or its instructions must be retained as long as
has entered into a formal agreement with the IRS that permits
their contents may become material in the administration of any
them to assist alien individuals and other foreign individuals with
Internal Revenue law. Generally, the information you provide on
obtaining Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers. A CAA
this form is confidential pursuant to the Privacy Act of 1974, and
cannot verify documents in order for individuals to obtain a PTIN.
tax returns and return information are confidential pursuant to
CAAs should enter either their EFIN or the eight-digit office code
Code section 6103. However, we are authorized to disclose this
assigned to them via the CAA application process.
information to contractors to perform the contract, to the
Department of Justice for civil and criminal litigation, and to cities,
Note. Once you complete the requirements to participate in the
states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. commonwealths and
Annual Filing Season Program, the IRS will add this to your PTIN
possessions for use in their return preparer oversight activities
account. See more information about the program listed under
and administration of their tax laws. We may also disclose this
Reminders, earlier.
information to other countries under a tax treaty, to federal and
Signature. The completed Form W-12 must be signed and dated
state agencies to enforce federal nontax criminal laws, to federal
by the applicant. Please use black or blue ink.
law enforcement and intelligence agencies to combat terrorism, or
to the general public to assist them in identifying those individuals
Line 13. Payment of the application registration/renewal fee(s)
authorized by the IRS to prepare tax returns or claims for refund.
must accompany this form or it will be rejected. PTIN
Registration/Renewal Fees.
The time needed to complete and file this form will vary
● If you are applying for a PTIN in order to prepare federal tax
depending on individual circumstances. The estimated burden for
those who file this form is shown below.
returns beginning calendar year 2021, the registration/renewal
fee is $35.95.
Recordkeeping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 hr.
● If you are registering or renewing a PTIN for 2020 or any other
Learning about the law or the form
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 min.
prior calendar year, there is no registration/renewal fee.
Preparing and sending the form
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 min.
● PTIN fees are nonrefundable. A separate payment is required
If you have comments concerning the accuracy of these time
for each year that a fee is due.
estimates or suggestions for making this form simpler, we would
● Make checks or money orders payable to “IRS Tax Pro PTIN
be happy to hear from you. You can send us comments from
Fee.”
IRS.gov/FormComments. Or you can send your comments to the
● Do not paper clip, staple, or otherwise attach the payment to
Internal Revenue Service, Tax Forms and Publications Division,
Form W-12.
1111 Constitution Ave. NW, IR-6526, Washington, DC 20224. Do
not send Form W-12 to this address. Instead, see How To File,
Remember to sign and date your check, and ensure the correct
!
earlier.
dollar amount is spelled out and matches the numerical amount
of the check. If the check is not complete, the check will be
CAUTION
voided and the application will be returned to you.
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