Form W-12 Instructions to File

Form W-12, Preparer Tax Identification Number Application and Renewal is a simple tax form used for applying and renewing PTIN for tax preparers. If you’re preparing and filing tax returns for compensation, you must obtain PTIN to enter on the tax returns you filed. Generally, tax preparers that file ten or more tax returns during a calendar year must obtain a PTIN number. Even if you expect the number of tax returns you prepare and file to be less than ten, we suggest obtaining a PTIN number to kickstart your career in tax preparation.

One of the two ways of getting or renewing a previous PTIN is to fill out Form W-12. It’s a simple tax form, but you may need extra help filing it, especially if it’s your first time. Here is the line-by-line instructions to file Form W-12. 

Box 1. Enter your full name and check the box that applies to you. If you’re applying for PTIN for the first time, check “initial application” if you’re renewing PTIN, check “renewal application”

Box 2. Enter the calendar year for the application. You can also apply and renew PTIN for the next calendar year. 

Box 3. Enter your Social Security Number and Date of Birth. If you don’t have an SSN, you can’t get a Preparer Taxpayer Identification Number.

Box 4. Enter your personal mailing address and phone number. Do not enter your business mailing address or phone number. 

Box 5. Enter your business mailing address and phone number. If your personal mailing address and business mailing address is the same, check the box on 5a, in other words, if you’re working from home. 

On 5b, enter your CAF number, EIN, or EFIN, and website address if you have a business website.

Box 6. Enter your email address. You may receive emails from the Internal Revenue Service about your PTIN application/renewal.

Box 7. If you had a felony conviction in the past 10 years, check the box and list the date and the type of felony conviction. 

Box 8. Enter the last address on your latest federal income tax return. If you’ve never filed a federal income tax return thus far, check the box underneath the address section.

Box 9. Enter your filing status on the latest federal income tax return and enter the last tax year you’ve filed taxes.

Box 10. If you’re current with your federal tax obligations such as estimated tax payments and federal withholdings, check the box as yes. If you’re not required to file a federal income tax return, check the box as no, and explain why you’re not required to file a tax return. 

Box 11. Check the box confirming you have a data security plan.

Box 12. If you have a professional credential, check the box that applies to you along with the identifying number and the expiration date. If not, check the box as none. 

Box 13. The PTIN application and renewal fee is $39.95. Make sure to include your money or check order on the application form and mail it to the Internal Revenue Service. When mailing Form W-12 to the IRS, submit your application using USPS, not any private delivery service (PDS), as they can’t deliver to PO boxes. Mail Form W-12 with your payment to IRS Tax Professional PTIN Processing Center PO Box 380638 San Antonio, TX 78268.

I’ve made my application, now what?

After submitting your PTIN application or renewal application, you’ll wait for about four to six weeks. It’s a long process as the Internal Revenue Service needs to understand your application and may take more if you’ve had problems with your federal tax obligations or had felony convictions. Wait for at least two months before contacting the IRS about your application.

Is there a way to apply/renew PTIN electronically?

The Internal Revenue Service accepts PTIN applications and renewal applications online. The agency even has its dedicated system for it. Learn how to apply or renew PTIN online. It takes significantly less time to complete the application and you can pay the application fee electronically using debit/credit card. 

I’m new to tax preparation, do I need to apply for PTIN?

Whether you’re new or preparing and filing federal tax returns for compensation for more than 20 years, you must obtain PTIN. If you’re new, you need to be extra careful as any taxpayer that has problems with their refunds and is impacted by the errors can make a complaint about a tax preparer.

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