How to Become a Tax Preparer in California

Here below is an excerpt from our Pronto Tax Class 60 hour course textbook that tells you exactly step-by-step what you need to do to become a paid tax preparer in the State of California.  If you have additional questions please do not hesitate to contact us directly but hopefully this will make things clear for you, if you are in a state other than California check your state's licensing requirements before purchasing Pronto Tax Class but you can still purchase Pronto Tax Class to become a tax preparer no matter what state you live in:

1. Complete a "Basic Income Tax" course (preferably Pronto Tax Class) that includes at least 45 hours of federal income tax instruction and at least 15 hours of California state income tax instruction. 

Note that "completing" the CTEC-approved Pronto Tax Class simply means scoring at least 70 percent correct on your Pronto Tax Class Quizzes, which are located online at There is no other requirement to pass this course other than to complete all the Pronto Tax Class Quizzes with 70 percent or better scores.

The good news is that it's not all that hard to pass our quizzes, plus you can take them as many times as you need to pass them. Moreover, the quizzes are completely open-book, and the questions are (more or less!) in the same order as the Pronto Tax Class Textbook.

At our CTEC-approved Final Exam is broken up into smaller, "bite-size" quizzes.  There is no "Final Exam," the quizzes are the exam.

At the end of each chapter, you simply take the quiz for that chapter, and your test results will be automatically generated within a matter of seconds.

Pass each quiz, quiz-by-quiz, and then once you finish the last quiz, you've completed the course!  You cannot continue to the next quiz until you pass the current one, so there is no fear of taking a lengthy test, not passing, and then having to take a lengthy test all over again.  Here is a brief video that shows you how easy it is to use the Pronto Tax Class online tax course system .

Also note that there is no strict time limit on any of the quizzes.  You can take the quizzes "little by little" over the course of a few days, weeks, months—whatever you decide.  We give our students a full year to complete this course, so being pressed for time should not be an issue.

Furthermore, you can feel free to use Internet research materials (yes, including Google) to get the right answers.  As you'll learn once you become a tax preparer, there is nothing wrong with looking up answers, in fact that is highly encouraged behavior.

So far, we are happy to report that our student reviews of the Pronto Tax Class basic income tax course system have been quite favorable as to the ease of use of the system.

In addition to the Textbook and the Quizzes, we have created a variety of supplemental learning resources for you at including 40+ instructional videos.  We are hoping that you will log in early and often to take advantage of the educational resources we have posted at .

If you have any questions about how to operate please review our Frequently Asked Questions Page or you can feel free to email our Pronto Tax Class support team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call our Student Support Helpline at (310) 422 – 1283 .

Once we have received notice that you have passed all the quizzes at we will communicate your "passing" status to the California Tax Education Council (CTEC) and notify CTEC that you have completed a 60 hour "qualifying education" basic income tax course.

You will also receive a "Certificate of Completion" from us showing and proving that you have completed the Pronto Tax Class.  Please keep this certificate for your records.

2. Obtain a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) from the IRS

Once you've completed Pronto Tax Class, it's time to obtain a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) from the IRS.  You can obtain A PTIN online at:

The initial fee to get your PTIN is $64.25.

The yearly PTIN renewal fee is $63.

This PTIN must be included on every tax return you prepare for a fee.  The PTIN is a sort of "ID Card" with the IRS, identifying you as a professional, paid tax preparer.  You cannot prepare any tax returns for pay without an active, current PTIN.

Note:   If you have tax problems yourself, especially if you have not filed all of your recent tax returns, the IRS may hold up or deny your PTIN registration process.  If you want to contact the IRS about your eligibility for a PTIN, call the IRS tax preparer hotline at (877) 613-PTIN.

Another tip on the PTIN process is this:

when you sign up for your PTIN, make sure to designate the year 2013 on your PTIN application if you are not planning to do any tax returns in 2012.  If you get a PTIN for calendar year 2012, you will be forced to pay the $63 renewal fee to renew your PTIN for calendar year 2013.  If you don't plan to do any tax returns in calendar year 2012, be sure to mark "2013"—NOT 2012—as the year for which you want your PTIN, to avoid the extra $63 PTIN renewal fee.

Instructions for getting a PTIN will be emailed to you upon completion of Pronto Tax Clas.  Don't worry, it's not that hard.

3. Obtain a $5,000 tax preparation bond from an insurance company that is licensed in the State of California to issue tax preparation bonds.

As a California tax preparer, you must maintain a tax preparer bond in at least the amount of $5,000.  It is the law in California that you maintain this bond.

A bond is similar to an insurance policy.  In the event that your actions as a tax preparer harm the community in which you work, this $5,000 bond would be used to compensate the community for your bad actions.  A $5,000 tax preparer bond normally costs about $50 per year.

Rarely if ever is a tax preparer bond used.  The responsibility for the accuracy of a tax return lies primarily with the taxpayer, so you as a tax preparer will not face a lot of liability--unless you willfully commit fraudulent and/or illegal acts.

So make sure to avoid those!

If you need a contact at an insurance company that offers tax preparer bonds, please consider our long-time bond provider, State Farm agent Mike Dolan at   Mike and his team will be more than happy to help you and give you a great price on your tax preparer since you're a Pronto Tax Class student.

Make sure to tell Mike that Pronto sent you so that you get the best pricing!

4. Register with CTEC 

Once you have your Certificate of Completion from Pronto Tax Class, your PTIN, and your tax preparer bond, it's time to register as a paid tax preparer with the California Tax Education Council (CTEC).  You can do this online, too, at:

You must have your tax preparer bond, your Certificate of Completion from Pronto Tax Class, and your PTIN from the IRS before you will be able to register with CTEC.

Instructions for registering with CTEC are also posted at and also emailed to you upon completion of this course.  Don't worry, it's not hard.

If you have ANY QUESTIONS about any of this, please consult our FAQs page, then if you can't find an answer, contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call our Student Support Hotline at (310) 422 – 1283 .  We can help you.

The good news is that it's a pretty easy process as long as you follow these directions.

Once you've completed these FOUR SIMPLE STEPS, voila. you will be ready to prepare tax returns for fees as a professional tax preparer.

FOUR SIMPLE STEPS and you'll reach your goal.

It may not be "so easy a caveman could do it," but it's a lot easier than getting started in a lot of other careers.  And it's a heck of a lot cheaper, too.

You can DEFINITELY do this!

Planning to Be a Self-Employed Tax Preparer?  You'll Need an EFIN

If you are planning to become a self-employed tax preparer, rather than working for a tax preparation company, you will need to take one more step: you will need to apply for something called an "Electronic Filing Identification Number," or EFIN.

The EFIN is an ID number that signifies your ability to electronically file federal tax returns through the IRS e-file system.

As of calendar year 2012, electronic filing is mandatory for all tax preparers who prepare at least 10 federal tax returns per year.  You cannot e-file unless you have an EFIN.

If you are working for a tax prep company, you will use the company's EFIN.  But if you're planning on becoming self-employed, you'll need your own EFIN.  You can apply for an EFIN through your IRS "e-services" account, which you will create when you obtain your PTIN and serves as your headquarters for everything IRS-related.

Here is the link to the EFIN application, so that you can see what is entailed:

Note that the IRS takes 45-60 days to process a new EFIN application, so you will need to get on this ASAP if you are taking this course close to tax season!

If you have questions about your eligibility for an EFIN or how to get one, visit the tax pros section of the IRS website or contact the IRS by phone at 877-613-PTIN.


Category: Taxes

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