How to Register with the California Tax Education Council (CTEC) as a California Paid Tax Preparer
As we’ve mentioned other places on this site and in the Pronto Tax Class educational materials, you cannot prepare tax returns for pay in the State of California without registering with the California Tax Education Council (CTEC) as a paid tax preparer. Individuals who prepare tax returns for pay in California without CTEC registration may be subject to fines of up to $5,000 per tax return prepared without registration, so this obligation to register is definitely something to take seriously.
The instructions below will show you exactly how to register with CTEC as a California paid tax preparer.
Step One: Complete a 60-Hour CTEC-Approved Basic Income Tax Course, Such as Pronto Tax Class
The first step to registering with CTEC is to complete a 60-hour basic income tax course provided by a CTEC-Approved Qualifying Education Provider. Pronto Tax Class is CTEC-approved as a basic income tax course that meets this standard. Here is a full list of CTEC-Approved Qualifying Education Providers.
Once you complete a CTEC-approved 60-hour basic income tax course, the Qualifying Education Provider, in this case Pronto Income Tax of California, Inc., will issue you a “Certificate of Completion” showing that you have met the education requirements for becoming a paid tax preparer in the State of California. Keep this “Certificate of Completion” in a safe place because you will need it in order to register with CTEC.
Step Two: Get a Tax Preparer Bond in the Amount of $5,000
Once you have completed a 60-hour CTEC-approved basic income tax course such as Pronto Tax Class and have your “Certificate of Completion” to prove it, the next step is to obtain a tax preparer bond in the amount of $5,000.
This bond protects the public up to $5,000 should you commit any misdeeds as a tax preparer that cause public harm. Normally, a $5,000 tax preparer bond costs about $25-$50 per year, but special for Pronto Tax Class Students, we have negotiated a special price through our long-time bond provider, Mike Dolan at State Farm Insurance. To get this special price, make sure to tell Mike and his team that Pronto sent you.
You will need a copy of your tax preparer bond before you can register with CTEC, so make sure you get that bond before you try to apply with CTEC.
Step Three: Get Your PTIN from IRS
Next you must apply for your Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) with the Internal Revenue Service. You can do this online, at www.irs.gov.
We have another separate article about how to get your PTIN from the IRS, so please read that article if you want detailed instructions on getting your PTIN from the IRS.
Getting a PTIN is a fairly easy and fast process in most cases, taking about 15-30 minutes.
Now You’re Ready to Register With CTEC
Once you have your “Certificate of Completion” for your 60-hour basic income tax course, your tax preparer bond, and your PTIN from the IRS, you are officially ready to register with CTEC as a paid tax preparer. The process of actually registering with CTEC is fairly simple:
Go to the Registration Page on CTEC’s website.
Enter the last six digits of your Social Security Number and your last name. (CTEC should have this information because we will give it to them once you graduate from Pronto Tax Class.)
Proceed to the private area of CTEC’s website, and fill out the one page application to become a CTEC-registered paid tax preparer.
In addition to the application itself, you will need to submit your “Certificate of Completion” from Pronto Tax Class, a copy of your tax preparer bond, and proof that you have obtained a PTIN from the IRS.
Once you submit your application and these other documents, CTEC will recognize you as a California paid tax preparer by issuing you a compliance certificate, a registration card, and a CTEC registration number, which always starts with an “A.”
Upon successful registration with CTEC, consumers will be able to search your name in CTEC’s database and verify that you are a legitimate paid tax preparer. This way, people will be able to know ahead of time that when they are coming to you, they are coming to a tax professional.
CTEC usually approves new registrants instantly, on the website, although it can take a bit longer if they are busy.