California CTEC Registered Tax Preparer (CRTP)

California law requires anyone who prepares tax returns for a fee within the State of California — and is not an exempt preparer — to register as a tax preparer with CTEC.

Exempt preparers include:

  • California Certified Public Accountants (CPAs)
  • Enrolled Agents (EAs)
  • Attorneys who are members of the State Bar of California

Become a CTEC Registered Tax Preparer in Six Steps

Step 1:

Complete the Online Application

Go to the CTEC website to complete the application. In the process, you must pass a background check and fingerprinting procedure (Live Scan). You’ll receive notification from CTEC of Live Scan approval or denial.

Step 2:

Complete 60 hours of Qualifying Education (QE)

You must pass 45 hours of federal and 15 hours of state qualifying education from a CTEC Approved Provider, such as Surgent Income Tax School. Our beginner income tax course with a California state supplement – the Comprehensive Tax Course, California Edition (Course #: 1071-QE-1004) — is approved as qualifying education by CTEC.

IMPORTANT: You can start your required 60-hour qualifying education before beginning the online CTEC application process; however, if you do NOT pass the background check and fingerprinting procedure (Live Scan), you will not be able to register with CTEC as a tax preparer.

Learn More About Our CTEC-Approved QE Course

Step 3:

Obtain a Preparer Tax Identification Number from the IRS

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issues a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) to all paid tax preparers. Before you can prepare, or assist in preparing, federal tax returns for pay, you must have a valid PTIN.

Applying for your PTIN is easy and only takes about 15 minutes online. There is a $35.95 nonrefundable fee, which can be paid by Credit/Debit/ATM card. Visit the IRS website to learn more about obtaining your PTIN.

NOTE: You should obtain your PTIN as soon as possible to keep things moving. You don’t need to wait until you complete Step 2.

Step 4:

Obtain a $5,000 tax preparer bond

Step 5:

Register with CTEC

You must register within 18 months of the date on your certificate of course completion.

CTEC Application Process for New Preparers

Step 6:

Complete annual CTEC Continuing Education Requirements

Surgent Income Tax School is a CTEC-approved continuing education provider for maintaining your CTEC Registered Tax Preparer (CRTP) license. Each year, to renew their CTEC registration, all CRTPs must:

  • Complete 20 hours of continuing tax education by October 31, including:
    • 10 hours of federal tax law
    • 3 hours of federal tax updates
    • 2 hour of ethics
    • 5 hours of California state tax law
  • Maintain a $5,000 tax preparer bond
  • Ensure their Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) is valid
  • Renew their CTEC registration on time by October 31

Learn More About Our CTEC-Approved CE Courses

It’s easy to become a tax preparer in California with our CA Comprehensive Tax Course. Get everything you need to start your career – fast! 

All you have to do is study the tax materials we provide and understand when certain laws and rules apply. The Surgent ITS California Comprehensive Tax Course teaches you everything you need to know to succeed as a tax professional in California!

We help you:

  • Learn tax preparation – with our Comprehensive Tax Course. In this beginner tax preparer course, you will learn to prepare tax returns and research tax issues for most Form 1040 individual, nonbusiness taxpayers and small business taxpayers (self-employed/Schedule C).
  • Become CTEC approved as a CRTP in California – upon successful completion of the course, we will:
    • Send you a Certificate of Completion
    • Submit your course completion information directly to CTEC

Enroll Now in the California Comprehensive Tax Course

Create Your Own 20-Hour CE Package to Meet Your CTEC Requirement

Package includes the following three courses, plus additional federal seminars of your choice:

  • 5 hours – California CE Course
  • 3 hours – Federal Tax Law Updates Course
  • 2 hours – Ethics Course
  • 10 hours of additional topics of your choice in Federal Tax Law

Additional continuing education options:

Please Note:

  • Surgent ITS students should complete CTEC CE by 10/21 each year to ensure timely reporting in order to meet the 10/31 CTEC renewal deadline.
  • CTEC students are responsible for verifying their own credits through their CTEC account before 10/21 to ensure complete and timely reporting of their CE before the 10/31 CTEC renewal deadline.
  • Surgent Income Tax School will do its best to request PTIN and CTEC numbers from Surgent ITS students, but it is the student’s responsibility to provide them to Surgent ITS School Administrators to ensure timely CE reporting.
  • Surgent Income Tax School is not liable for any delays caused by the website or the student’s failure to comply with the above requested actions.
  • CTEC does offer late renewal for an additional fee, in which case Surgent ITS students must complete CTEC CE by 1/5 of each year to meet the 1/15 CTEC late renewal deadline.

CTEC Late Renewal Registration Information

If you happen to miss the renewal deadline, the guidance for the late renewal CRTP registration is as follows:

  • The late renewal deadline is January 15 each year.
  • In addition to the renewal fee of $33, there is a $55 late renewal fee for a total of $88. (The late fee will not be waived.)
  • If you don’t meet the late renewal deadline, you will be required to:
    • Complete a 60-hour qualifying education course
    • Undergo a background check
      • You cannot practice tax preparation until you successfully complete your education and the background check
        • If you choose to practice without renewing your registration, you face a $2,500 (up to $5,000) fine.

For more information, visit the California Tax Education Council (CTEC) website