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The Accredited Tax Preparer (ATP) is a leading national credential for practitioners who have thorough knowledge of the existing tax code and the preparation of individual tax returns. Their expertise covers comprehensive 1040 issues, including supporting schedules, self-employed returns and ethics.
In order to become an ATP, you must pass the ATP examination which is offered twice a year at testing centers around the country. Any tax or accounting professional is eligible to earn the ATP credential. There is no minimum professional experience required.
2017 IRS Annual Filing Season Program
ATP Credential Holders automatically qualify for the 2017 IRS Annual Filing Season Program and are exempt from the new Annual Filing Refresher Course and Exam requirements. As part of the voluntary IRS Annual Filing Season Program which will require annual testing, an Annual Federal Tax Refresher Course and continuing education, ATP credential holders are:
- Exempt from the Annual Federal Tax Refresher course and testing requirements
- Automatically qualify for the AFSP Record of Completion (contingent on the following)
- must have a valid preparer tax identification number (PTIN)
- must earn at least 15 continuing education credits in 2016
- must consent to adhere to specific practice obligations outlined in Subpart B and section 10.51 of Circular No. 230
- As Record of Completion Holders, ATPs are included in the IRS public database of tax return preparers
The ATP exam is a computer-based test offered twice a year at testing centers across the country. You must register for the ATP exam by the deadline in order to take the exam during a specified testing window.
- 2016 Fall Testing Window: November 1, 2016 - December 15, 2016
Registration Deadline: October 30, 2016
- 2017 Summer Testing Window: June 1, 2017 - July 15, 2017
Registration Deadline: May 30, 2017
- 2017 Fall Testing Window: November 1, 2017 - December 15, 2017
Registration Deadline: October 30, 2017
The ATP exam consists of 100-multiple choice questions. Questions on the ATP exam follow a job practice analysis that studies what tax preparers do, how often they perform each task and how important they perceive the task to be. Topics covered include 1040 issues, supporting schedules, self-employed returns, tax planning and ethics. For a list of specific topics, review the ATP exam blueprint
ATP Examination Fee: $250
Detailed Exam information and FAQs can be found here
1. ATP Prep Course
The ATP Prep Course is an online study aid & PDF published by the National Society of Accountants (NSA) to help you prepare for the exam. This online course comprehensively covers 1040 individual taxation and ethics. Each chapter includes interactive review questions complete with answers and detailed explanations, as well as links to reference materials.
- View a sample lesson here.
- View Prices and purchase the full course here.
All Online/PDF study material sales are final, no refunds will be issued after purchase.
2. ATP Practice Exam
The ATP Practice Exam is an easy-to-use online tool to help you prepare for the exam. The Practice Exam generates randomized questions that can be shuffled by topic area with immediate results and feedback.
Please note: If you purchase the ACAT Prep Course, there is no need to purchase the Practice Exam, it is included in the course.
- View sample questions here
- View prices and purchase the full practice exam here
The computer-based ATP Exam is proctored at Castle Testing Centers across the country. Castle offers close to 1,000 test center locations that provide testing in a proctored environment. Of the top 100 U.S. cities by population, 99% of candidates are within 15 miles of a Castle testing center.
Locate your testing city here
You must register for the ATP exam by the deadline in order to take the exam at a Castle testing center during a specified testing window. Once registered, you will receive a Notice to Schedule/Eligibility Notice email that provides instructions to submit a scheduling request (such notices are sent no earlier than 45 days prior to the testing window). Once you submit your scheduling request, you will receive your Confirmation Notice from Castle via email. This information will include your exam date and time reservation; the address and driving directions to the chosen testing site as well as instructions regarding arrival time; what to bring and not to bring; the rescheduling policy; a link to a generic sample test that demonstrates Castle’s online testing software, PASS, and other important information.
Detailed exam information and FAQs can be found here.
Maintaining Your Credential
ACAT Credential Holders must meet three (3) requirements to maintain credentials: Payment of annual renewal fees, continuing education requirements, and adherance to the Code of Ethics. Details of each can be found here.
For more information about ACAT and its tax and accounting credentials, view the ACAT Candidate Handbook