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California Tax Education Council (CTEC) Registered Tax Preparers

Background

California law requires anyone who prepares tax returns for a fee and is not an exempt preparer to register as a tax preparer with the California Tax Education Council (CTEC). Exempt preparers are California certified public accountants (CPAs), enrolled agents (EAs), attorneys who are members of the State Bar of California, and certain specified banking or trust officials.

See the table below for more information.

Requirements to become a CTEC registered tax preparer (CRTP):

  • Take a 60-hour qualifying education course from a CTEC approved provider within the past 18 months.
  • Purchase a $5,000 tax preparer bond from an insurance/surety agent.
  • Obtain a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
  • Submit an application to CTEC and the $25 registration fee.

The individual tax preparer is responsible for completing the registration requirement whether or not the employer provided or paid for a surety bond and CTEC registration. The unregistered tax preparer is personally liable for any penalties, not the employer.

You must renew your registration with CTEC annually to legally prepare income tax returns. Go to ctec.org for complete information and requirements.

To annually renew CTEC registration, a tax preparer must:

  • Take a minimum of 20 hours continuing education from a CTEC approved provider, which must include 15 hours of federal tax curriculum (which includes 2 hours of ethics) and 5 hours of California tax curriculum.
  • Renew the PTIN number with the IRS each year.
  • Maintain a $5,000 tax preparer bond.
  • Submit a renewal application and the $25 annual registration fee before October 31 of each year ($40 fee if after October 31) to CTEC. Effective for 2012/2013 renewals, the annual registration fee is $25 and the late fee is $55.

If you fail to renew your CTEC registration by January 15 of the following year, we consider you a new tax preparer and subject to the new preparer registration requirements. For additional information, go to ctec.org.

CTEC Registration Guidelines

If you: And you: Does the state of California require CTEC registration?
Are an inactive CPA or are a non-California CPA Prepare income tax returns for a fee in California Yes, or you must resume/become an active California CPA
Work for an exempt tax preparer Sign the income tax return Yes
Do not sign the income tax return (exempt tax preparer is the responsible party) No
Work for a CTEC registered tax preparer Take income tax data from a client and enter it into a computer (whether in person or other contact) Yes
Have no contact with clients and perform the clerical function of inputting tax information into the computer for your employer No
Are a nonexempt tax preparer Take income tax data from a client and enter it into a computer and/or prepare the income tax return Yes
Are a nonexempt tax preparer who prepares income tax returns that are bundled or included with other services Receive a fee for the bundle of services which include the preparation of the income tax return Yes
Are an employee of a business unrelated to income tax return preparation Prepare (or assist with preparation of) the company’s business income tax return No
Compile the company’s business income tax information for submission to a paid tax preparer who will prepare the income tax return No