Monday, April 30, 2012

Frequently Asked Questions About RTRP

Now that tax season is behind us and that last extension has been dropped in the mail it’s time to think about whether you or some of your staff need to take the new Registered Tax Return Preparers (RTRP) test. The test has been available since last November but the IRS and others recommended that you wait to take the test until after tax season. Following are some of the most frequently asked questions about the Registered Tax Return Preparer test.

1. What does the new IRS return preparer oversight program require?
The oversight program requires all paid tax return preparers to register with the IRS each year and have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Certain tax return preparers who prepare Form 1040 series returns must also pass a one-time competency test, a tax compliance check, and a suitability check.

2. Who must take the RTRP competency test?
All paid tax return preparers who prepare Form 1040 series returns, and are not CPAs, Attorneys, or Enrolled Agents, are required to take the test.

3. Can I take the test even if I’m not required to?
Yes. However, you must have a PTIN if you wish to take the test.

4. Is the test available in Spanish?
No. The test is currently available in English only and generally will be administered in a computer based-format.

5. How many questions are on the test and what is the minimum passing grade?
There are 120 questions in a combination of multiple choice and true or false formats. You will have two and a half hours to complete the test. A perfect score is 500 but you must score 350 (70%) or higher to pass the test.

6. Where do I go to take the test and is there a fee?
The test is administered by Prometric and can be taken at any one of its more than 260 sites throughout the U.S. The test fee is $116 and must be paid each time you take the test.

7. By what date must I pass the test?
Preparers must pass the competency test and a tax compliance chech by December 31, 2013.

8. Do I have to pass the test more than once?
No. Passing the test is a onetime requirement to become a RTRP.

9. Must RTRPs comply with any annual requirements?
Yes. Starting in 2012 you must complete 15 hours of continuing education each calendar year. The 15 hours must include two hours of ethics. three hours of federal tax law updates, and 10 hours of other federal tax law courses. These courses must be taken from an IRS-approved vendor.

10. Where can I find more general test information?
For more information on the testing requirements go to:,,id=239683,00.html

RTRPs representation rights are limited to representation before certain IRS officers and employees and only in connection with returns they signed.

If you’re looking for an IRS-approved CE vendor with RTRP prep courses to help you pass the test and all the continuing education courses needed to stay current with the latest changes in federal tax law and fulfill the ethics requirement, then visit Checkpoint Learning.


  1. Very informative...Thanks

  2. The person who did my taxes this year had a PTIN, and was not RTRP or EA or CPA, should I be worried?

    1. That depends. If the person has a permanent office location, does more than 10 or 15 returns each year there is probably no need to be concerned. On the other hand if the preparer advertised that they would prepare your return for $29.95 and says that the average refund for their clients was $5,000 I would be very concerned.