The Certified Tax Resolution Specialist designation is awarded to individuals who have met the educational, experience, and examination requirements prescribed by ASTPS. The CTRS designation is restricted to Enrolled Agent, CPA or Attorney members in good standing of the American Society of Tax problem Solvers, who have proven expertise to resolve a wide range of tax problems.

A CTRS is expected, at a minimum, to be able to secure Offers In Compromise, Installment Agreements, Penalty Abatement, Innocent Spouse Relief, Release of Liens or Levies, and be able to handle Non-Filer issues.


A Certified Tax Resolution Specialist must exhibit high moral and professional character. A CTRS represents clients before various taxing authorities to negotiate favorable solutions to their tax problems, therefore a reputation for truthfulness, credibility and adherence to ethical principles are mandatory.

Educational Requirement

To sit for the CTRS Exam a practitioner must have received a minimum 16 hours of continuing education in IRS Representation within the past two years. Traditional tax preparation courses DO NOT count towards the total. If you attend any live seminar though ASTPS you would receive the necessary amount of hours. ASTPS Silver & Gold members also have the opportunity to receive 1 hr of CE every month through their monthly technical trainings. Additionally, if you have purchased the recorded Tax Resolution Boot Camp or the Rescue Squad Online Tax Resolution Course through ASTPS those credits will count towards the total.

Experience Requirement

To sit for the CTRS Exam a practitioner must have a minimum of 1 full year of experience handling tax resolution cases. Partial years or part-time experience can be accumulated to full time equivalent. Example: If you have been taking on cases off and on for 3-4 years your time could add up to 1 year of full time experience. Please Note: Tax preparation experience does not count towards the experience needed.

Within the experience requirement there is a case work component. Within the last 24 months, you must have conducted a minimum of ten of the following actions while handling client tax resolution cases.

Offer in Compromise
Installment Agreements
Penalty Abatement
Trust Fund Recovery Penalty
Employment tax Cases
Taxpayer Advocate Assistance
Currently Non Collectible
Tax Abated in Bankruptcy

CDP Hearing
CAP Hearing
Audit Appeal
Innocent Spouse
Penalty Abatement
4180 interviews
Lien Withdrawal
Levy Release

Example: If you have done 3 offers, 5 installment agreements, and abated 2 penalties that would equal the 10 points necessary.

Credential Requirement

In order to represent before the IRS you must be an Enrolled Agent, Certified Public Accountant, or an Attorney. If you do not have one of these credentials, then you will not be able to sit for the Certified Tax Resolution Specialist exam. Please Note: Those in the process of receiving a credential must wait until after they have obtained it to apply for the CTRS exam.

About the Exam

The examination will be made available to qualified candidates upon submission of an Application for Examination that reflects a candidate's eligibility. The CTRS exam consists of two parts: 150 objective questions covering all areas of IRS Problem Resolution, the second, a comprehensive case problem requiring preparation of a tax problem case for resolution.

The examination is a take home exam and applicants are encouraged to research questions.

We know that applicants in many cases are sole practitioners running practices, so we allow for 30 days to complete and return the exam.

The Grading Process

In order to pass the examination, a score of 75% on each section is required. Exam scores are not released when a passing grade is not achieved. Old exams are not released. These procedures are strictly maintained to assure the integrity of the examination process. A subcommittee of the Board of Regents grades completed exams. The candidate's identity is unknown to the subcommittee during the grading process. The Board also reviews the exams and is responsible for making any necessary adjustments.

Retaking the Exam

If all parts are not passed on the first attempt, you may sit for the failed parts later when you feel adequately prepared. However, you are limited to three attempts consisting of the first exam, and two retakes. If not all parts are passed by the time you have taken the original test and two re-exams, you will be required to attend an IRS Tax Problem Resolution Boot Camp, and start the examination process over from the beginning. There is also a time limit, as all parts must be passed within twenty-four months of the first exam date. A separate reduced exam fee applies to retakes.

Recommended Study 

Attending the IRS Tax Problem Resolution 2-day Boot Camp or watching the online Rescuse Squad Tax Problem Resolution Course is highly recommended before applying to take the CTRS exam. These courses will cover many of the subject areas to be tested on the Uniform Examinations.

Prior to, and while taking the examination, you should reference to the Practitioners Publishing Company (PPC) "Dealing with the IRS" 2-Volume Set.

Bylaws & Code of Professional Ethics

In order to maintain your status as a CTRS, you must maintain your membership in ASTPS at any level, agree to abide by the Rules of Practice, ASTPS Organizational Bylaws, and Code of Professional Ethics.

Ready to Become a CTRS?

The first step is to fill out the form below to download the official 2017 application for examination.