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If you are a professional tax return preparer, you may want to look into AFSP prep courses. AFSP (or Annual Filing Season Program) is an optional certification offered by the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) to help non-credentialed tax return preparers demonstrate their competency and earn a place in the IRS's database of qualified tax experts. Applicants must take a class and then demonstrate their knowledge on a high-stakes exam in order to earn the certification. If you feel that an AFSP class could take your test prep to the next level, reach out to Varsity Tutors today for more information on the AFSP courses we can offer.


One of the first steps in taking an AFSP prep class is understanding whether you are eligible for the certification. The following list includes everything needed to earn an AFSP certification:

  • Take 18 hours of continuing education from IRS-Approved CE Providers, including:
    • A six-hour Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course that covers filing season issues and tax law updates, as well as a knowledge-based comprehension test administered at the end of the course by the CE Provider;
    • 10 hours of other federal tax law topics
    • 2 hours of ethics
  • Have an active preparer tax identification number (PTIN).
  • Agree to abide specific practice obligations outlined in Subpart B and section 10.51 of Treasury Department Circular No. 230.

If you are a working tax professional, the 18 hours of classroom instruction prescribed above may feel like the most daunting prospect. Our AFSP classes allow students to receive individualized attention from a private tutor. Your instructor may be able to direct you to an IRS-certified AFSP course that fits into your busy schedule.


If you're more concerned about the exam itself, our AFSP class is the perfect opportunity to take practice tests and develop a familiarity with its content and formatting. The IRS's CE (Continuing Education) partners are permitted to write and proctor their own exams, so the formatting can vary from provider to provider. The table below illustrates a typical format:

Format # Questions Allowed Time Passing Grade
Multiple-Choice 100 3 Hours 70%

Since the test is timed, you might not have enough time to re-read every question and its corresponding answer choices. Your instructor may demonstrate test-taking strategies specific to your provider's version of the exam during AFSP course sessions to help you eliminate several answer choices and move on so that you can finish the entire test.


AFSP prep classes also offer the flexibility to concentrate on your unique areas of opportunity. If you have a solid understanding of the basics but haven't kept up with the new tax laws, your AFSP prep course might focus on tax law updates and their impact on filing tax returns to enhance study efficiency. Alternatively, you might brush up on the ethics expected of all tax return preparers during your AFSP prep classes.


Should you have any questions, your instructor can address them in a timely fashion. You may also receive individualized attention tailored to your unique needs. For instance, visual learners may benefit from graphical representations of AFSP concepts, while auditory learners might get more out of a Q&A discussion format.


We also try to match every student who comes to us with an instructor who can adapt to their schedule. We know how difficult it would be for you to attend an AFSP class, so we search through our database of independent tutors and refer you to one who best fits your needs. Our Live Learning Platform also facilitates face-to-face study sessions online, allowing you to meet your instructor anywhere with a stable internet connection for maximal convenience.

Contact us today to connect with a top AFSP - Annual Filing Season Program instructor