How to Become a California CTEC-Registered Tax Preparer

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Surety Bond Professionals is a family-owned and operated bonding agency with over 30 years of experience. With access to a broad range of surety markets, our expert agents are ready to assist with all of your California registered tax preparer bond needs. Learn how to become a California CTEC-registered tax preparer, below.

Who Must Register with CTEC?

If you’re a non-exempt tax preparer in California, you must register with the California Tax Education Council (CTEC) if you offer and provide income tax return preparation services for a fee.

You may be exempt from this registration requirement if you’re:

  • A California CPA
  • An enrolled agent (EA)
  • An attorney admitted to the California State Bar
  • A banking or trust official

CTEC-registered tax preparers are commonly referred to as CRTPs.

What Is the Process for Becoming a Registered Tax Preparer?

The requirements for CTEC registration include:

  • Completing an 80-hour education course from a CTEC-approved provider during the 18 months preceding registration
  • Purchasing a tax preparer surety bond in the amount of $5,000
  • Obtaining a Preparer Tax Identification Number (a PTIN) from the IRS
  • Undergoing a Live Scan fingerprint check
  • Applying for registration online and paying the fee (currently $33)

CTEC registrations must be renewed annually, by October 31. Registration renewal requires completion of 20-hours of continuing tax education and continuation of the tax preparer bond.

Why is a California Tax Preparer Bond Required?

The purpose of CTEC registration is to ensure competent tax preparation throughout California. A tax preparer bond, also known as a CTEC bond, serves as a registered tax preparer’s pledge to operate in compliance with applicable state laws and ethical standards. Any unlawful or unethical action on the part of a registered tax preparer that causes financial harm can result in the injured party filing a claim against the bond.

The bond indemnifies CTEC (the “obligee” requiring the bond) against liability for damages caused by a registered tax preparer and provides funds for compensating claimants.

How Are California Tax Preparer Bond Claims Paid?

The surety bond agreement for a California tax preparer bond legally obligates the tax preparer (the bond’s “principal”) to pay all valid claims against the bond. However, the company authorizing the bond (the bond’s “surety”) typically will pay a claim and then be reimbursed by the principal.

How Much Does a California Tax Preparer Bond Cost?

California tax preparer bonds are sold for a flat fee that’s rarely more than $25 per year. The bond can be purchased with a term of one, two, three, or four years. There usually is a discount for multiple-year bonds.

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Our surety bond professionals will get you the California tax preparer bond you need at a competitive rate.