Tax - Licensing Process

California law requires anyone who prepares tax returns for a fee and is not an exempt preparer to register as a tax preparer with the California Tax Education Council (CTEC). Exempt preparers are California certified public accountants (CPA’s), enrolled agents (EA’s), attorneys who are members of the State Bar of California, and certain specified banking or trust officials.

To become a CTEC registered tax preparer (CRTP), you must do the following:

  • Take a 60-Hour qualifying education course from a CTEC approved provider within the last 18 months
  • Purchase a $5,000 tax preparer bond from an insurance/surety agent
  • Obtain a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
  • Register and submit the $33 registration fee online

Note: The individual is responsible for completing the registration requirement whether or not the employer provided or paid for a surety bond and CTEC registration. The unregistered tax preparer is personally liable for any penalties, not the employer.

You must renew your registration with CTEC annually to legally prepare income tax returns. Go to for complete information and requirements.

To annually renew CTEC registration, you must do the following:

  • Take a minimum of 20 hours of continuing education (CE) from a CTEC approved provider, which must include 15 hours of federal tax curriculum (which includes 2 hours of ethics) and 5 hours of California tax curriculum. NOTE: Unfortunately, at this time Mike Russ Schools does NOT offer CE for CTEC Licenses
  • Renew the PTIN Number with the IRS each year
  • Maintain a $5,000 tax preparer bond
  • Renew your registration and submit the $33 annual registration fee before October 31 of each year online ($55 fee if after October 31)

Note: if you fail to renew your CTEC registration by January 15 of the following year, you are considered a new tax preparer and subject to the new preparer registration requirements.


For questions about the CTEC licensing process & requirements, please contact CTEC directly: (877) 850-2832 or

Tax -

Tax -

Tax -

Excellent cram course for Life, Health & Disability for California...never fun but I feel great and have moved up my test date now I understand HOW to take the exam. Thanks Mike!

Susan M.