Becoming a California Tax Preparer Via the California Tax Education Council (CTEC)
A preparer of tax returns in California is required to obtain special certification with the state. The California Tax Education Council (CTEC) administers the registration of tax preparers who are not attorneys with the state bar association, licensed with the state as certified public accountants, or registered with the Internal Revenue Service as Enrolled Agents.
The special treatment of enrolled agent California status is making EA certification a preferred designation within the state. Tax professionals in California can complete enrolled agent preparation with only a little extra effort than what’s required for tax preparer certification.
Prior to registration with CTEC, tax preparers must complete 60 hours of qualifying tax education. This study is available from traditional classroom courses, online courses, and home study courses. Online courses maximize scheduling flexibility and permit self-paced progress. A tax preparer education class is therefore similar to an enrolled agent training course.
California Registered Tax Preparers must complete 20 hours of continuing tax education each year. But enrolled agent CPE requirements apply to California tax practitioners with an EA designation.
CTEC also requires federal registration with the IRS as a Registered Tax Return Preparer. Therefore, California tax preparers must possess a federal Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Any CPA or attorney who is licensed in a state other than California must also register with CTEC in order to prepare tax returns in California. Employees of exempt attorneys, CPAs, or enrolled agents are not required to register if they do not sign tax returns.
CTEC registration of new tax preparers takes place throughout the year. The Certificate of Completion issued by CTEC to tax preparers is valid through the following October 31. Therefore, new preparers normally wait until November 1 to register if they do not intend to prepare tax returns prior to next October 31. They use the time period prior to October 31 for completion of the educational training requirements.
IRS Circular 230 Disclosure
Pursuant to the requirements of the Internal Revenue Service Circular 230, we inform you that, to the extent any advice relating to a Federal tax issue is contained in this communication, including in any attachments, it was not written or intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (a) avoiding any tax related penalties that may be imposed on you or any other person under the Internal Revenue Code, or (b) promoting, marketing or recommending to another person any transaction or matter addressed in this communication.