We operate a best-selling 20 hour CTEC course and one thing we always want to improve for our Members is the communication about what to do after you complete your 20 hour CTEC renewal course.
Every year, we get dozens of panicked inquiries from California CTEC tax pros calling us and wondering why CTEC and/or the IRS says that they are not in compliance with CTEC and/or IRS rules—these tax pros tell us that they completed our 20 hour CTEC course, so why are they being hassled, why didn’t Pronto Tax School do our job?
These individuals are being hassled because yes they may have completed our course—but no they did not take another step that they were required to take as a tax professional, and that will cause a problem.
Now these individuals are getting a “Failure to Register” letter from the Franchise Tax Board threatening $2,500 – $5,000 fines, because they are doing taxes for pay without CTEC registration.
In addition to the danger of being fined, these individuals now need to take the 60 hour “become a tax preparer” course all over again, undergo fingerprinting / background check, and other hassles to bring their registration current with CTEC.
It’s messy when that happens and that’s why we strive to make it exceedingly clear to anyone who takes our 20 hour CTEC course:
Completing the course is only one part of keeping your tax professional status active.
Once you complete this course, you still must take additional steps to make sure you are “good to go” for tax season.
Here are the exact steps you need to take after you complete your 20 hour CTEC course so that there is no confusion (these steps are also listed inside the 20 hour course system).
1) Renew Your PTIN with IRS
Assuming that the IRS PTIN system is open and operational (that usually happens around October), we recommend you start the process of of renewing your CTEC registration by renewing your PTIN online at this link.
If the IRS PTIN system is not open and operational yet at the time you complete your course, go through with the other steps shown below, and then mark your calendar to come back to the IRS PTIN system once it reopens. (Note that you also will not be able to complete Step 4, regarding the AFSP credential, until the IRS has re-opened the PTIN system for the upcoming year which typically happens around October or November.)
2) Renew Your Registration with CTEC
Once your education provider for the 20 hour CTEC renewal course reports your hours to CTEC (if you’re using Pronto, we typically within one hour of your course completion), you need to go to www.ctec.org and renew your CTEC registration.
Choose the “Tax Professionals” button on the front page of ctec.org and follow the prompts from there.
You have to upload a copy of your tax preparer bond to the CTEC website during the renewal process. So make sure to get a copy of that bond ahead of time so that you are not stressed out when trying to renew CTEC close to a deadline. (If your bond is expired, see Step #3 shown below.)
If you used Pronto for your 20 Hour CTEC course and find that your hours are not reported on the same day of your course completion, please contact our support team immediately with the subject line “Missing CTEC Hours” and we will check and see what is going on and assist you. We are always responsive to you to make 100% sure your hours are reported in a timely way. We realize that other providers may take days or even weeks to report hours, we are not about that, our average CTEC hours reporting is within 10 minutes of your course completion and we are RELENTLESS when it comes to rapid reporting if it’s close to a deadline.
3) Update Your Tax Preparer Bond
You may find, during the CTEC registration process, that you need a tax preparer bond; maybe your old bond expired, or is expiring soon.
If you need any help with your tax preparer bond, we recommend Ingrid Ceballos at Pronto Insurance. In addition to being an insurance professional, Ingrid is a tax professional just like you, and she will definitely take care of you with great service in English or Spanish. The phone number to reach Pronto Insurance and set up your CA tax preparer bond is 310-651-5060 and here is the office location information.
Once you renew your CTEC registration, you’re good on the California side.
4) Get the AFSP Credential (If You Want It)
Now then, on the IRS side, you may want to obtain your Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) Record of Completion from the IRS.
Or you may not care about getting your AFSP, and remember, AFSP is voluntary.
We do recommend getting this AFSP credential and your 20 hour CTEC course does qualify you for this designation (as long as you’re already a CTEC-registered preparer).
Inside your PTIN account, you need to “sign off” on Circular 230 requirements, in order to be granted your AFPS credential.
NOTE: the video shown below makes it seem like you can “sign off” on the Circular 230 requirements within your PTIN account instantly, however in reality the IRS will take about 30 days and then they will send you an email to your PTIN mailbox and then you need to go back into your PTIN account to actually claim your AFSP certificate.
Here are instructions from the IRS that show how the AFSP process works:
Again, if the IRS PTIN system is not yet open at the time you complete your course, you’ll need to mark your calendar and come back later to get your AFSP final steps completed inside your PTIN account.
You do not need to wait on the IRS to renew your CTEC registration, CTEC opens its renewal system on time every year, August 1st.
Clarity About Who Does What
We work hard to provide you with a great update & refresher 20 hour CTEC course.
And as noted, we have tried even harder in recent years to provide you with super-clear instructions about exactly what to do after you complete your 20 hour CTEC course. With these additional efforts on our side, we’ve drastically reduced the number of CTEC tax preparers who don’t understand what they need to do, and therefore don’t properly renew and then get letters and/or fines.
Nevertheless, it is extremely important that you realize who is responsible for maintaining your professional credentials:
We provide your course, report your hours, and give you directions about what to do next.
YOU do everything else that you need to do to maintain your status as a professional tax preparer.
We are an education provider and we do NOT take responsibility for these other steps. Rest assured, any and all of these steps are totally doable, in fact getting all this done takes about 30 minutes total. But the person who must do these steps is you.
Hopefully these detailed instructions about how to renew with CTEC and IRS are helpful to make the process easy for you.
Customer Service Resources for Tax Professionals
Realizing that tax professionals will have a wide variety of questions about these tax preparer regulations, here is our quick cheat sheet of important links:
–> Here is a link to the main IRS AFSP page.
–> Here is a link to the AFSP FAQs page.
–> Here is a link to the list of IRS-approved education providers.
The division of the IRS that is in charge of these regulations is called the Return Preparer Office (RPO). The RPO hosts a surprisingly active Facebook page so that is one way to contact them.
You can also call the RPO at 877-613-PTIN (7846). Be advised that if you call the RPO division of the IRS around December 31 when everyone is rushing to beat the AFSP deadline, be prepared to hear some serious muzak because you’re likely be on hold for approximately eternity.
If you need to contact CTEC, you can reach them by phone (877) 850-2832 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have questions after following these directions shown above, please feel free to reach out to our Customer Support Team here at Pronto Tax School.
Thanks for doing your part to keep our 20 hour CTEC course insanely affordable and to keep your CTEC renewal process as hassle free as possible!
If your CTEC registration has already expired, jump into our online 60 hour CTEC tax course, and we will get that fixed up for you in a jiffy, a.k.a. “Pronto.”
Thank you, Friend!
Please take a moment to also Review these educational resources from ProntoTaxSchool.com:
- Step by Step Guide: What To Do After You Complete Your 60 Hour CTEC Course
- The Best Tax Software That New Tax Preparers Love!