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The Internal Revenue Service today reminded the nation’s more than 768,000 federal tax return preparers that they must renew their Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTINs) for 2019. All current PTINs will expire Dec. 31, 2018.

Anyone who prepares or helps prepare any federal tax return, or claim for refund, for compensation must have a valid PTIN from the IRS. The PTIN must be used as the identifying number on returns prepared. Failure to have and use a valid PTIN may result in penalties.

“We ask that you renew your PTIN as soon as possible to avoid a last-minute rush,” said Carol A. Campbell, director, IRS Return Preparer Office. “It’s easy to let this slip as the holiday season approaches.”

For those who have a 2018 PTIN, the renewal process takes a few moments online. Those who cannot remember their user ID and password can find online tools to assist them. Preparers can get started at www.irs.gov/ptin. If registering for the first time, the PTIN application may also be completed online. There is no fee for obtaining or renewing a PTIN.

Paper Form W-12, IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number Application and Renewal, is available for paper applications and renewals, and takes four to six weeks to process.

All enrolled agents, regardless of whether they prepare returns, must renew their PTIN annually in order to maintain their active status.