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IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN): Why it’s important your tax pro have one

3 min read

3 min read

Acronyms and jargon are common when it comes to taxes. After all, it’s a technical subject matter. In this post, we’ll define the acronym PTIN – including “what is a PTIN number?”, as well as why it’s important and how to conduct a PTIN lookup. Let’s dig in!

What is a PTIN?

First, we’ll answer “what is a PTIN?” PTIN is short for Preparer Tax Identification Number. It’s issued by the IRS to federal tax return preparers. Tax professionals who file federal tax returns and are compensated for it should include their PTIN on each return. If you’re filing taxes online (on your own), you don’t need a PTIN. This includes filing a joint return, returns for friends and family, any return filed through a volunteer position, or even if you file someone else’s tax return, assuming you weren’t being paid.

Periodically, an employee will prepare a tax return for their company. In this case, they don’t need a PTIN. This is because the employee isn’t paid for their services exclusively in tax preparation or required to sign the return. The company’s officer or treasurer should sign the return.

What is an example of the Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN)?

A PTIN is an eight-digit number preceded by the letter “P” and looks like this: P12345678.

Why is an IRS PTIN important?

You’re legally responsible for what’s on your tax return, so you want to make sure you choose a trusted and professional tax preparer.

You can use a PTIN lookup, a public online directory, to find tax pros with a PTIN by: zip code (250 mile radius), additional credentials (Enrolled Agent or Certified Public Accountant), or last name. The search results will display registered tax pros with a PTIN and an additional professional designation recognized by the IRS within your search parameters.

PTIN requirements and tax expertise at H&R Block

Having a PTIN isn’t the only thing you should look for when choosing a tax pro, however. In fact, tax preparers have differing levels of expertise, skills, education, and qualifications.

At H&R Block, all of our tax pros have a PTIN—and some of our pros are Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) or Enrolled Agents (EAs). You can find out more about the difference between those designations in our CPA vs EA post, but for a quick definition:

  • EAs are tax practitioners enrolled to practice before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
  • CPA is a designation for professionals who are licensed by their state boards of accountancy and have passed the Uniform CPA Examination. While CPAs are often associated with tax preparation, they can also offer a range of services such as financial planning or auditing.

Have a special tax situation – such as retirement or military income?  H&R Block understands that certain taxpayers have unique needs. That’s why our tax pros can help in a variety of areas of tax to help you navigate your obligations.

Learn more about the different types of tax preparers and how to find one who meets your needs.

Find help from tax pro with a PTIN

Whether you’re seeking remote tax assistance or want to file within a tax office, H&R Block can help. Each one of our tax pros has a PTIN – and some have other certifications. Our tax pros help to ensure your taxes are correctly filed – taking each tax credit and deduction you deserve. We have 60,000 knowledgeable tax pros, with an average of 10 years’ experience.

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