80,000 Tax Preparers in California
But not all are California approved. Thousands are doing business without a license or registration. Is your tax preparer one of them?
Know Your Tax Preparer
If You Pay, They Must Sign
All paid tax preparers are required by law to sign (typed or handwritten) state and federal tax returns they prepare for you. They are also required to include their individual IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) on all federal tax returns they prepare.
Tax preparers who don't sign tax returns are breaking the law. No signature means no accountability or proof of existence.
California law says only an attorney, certified public accountant (CPA), enrolled agent (EA) or registered tax preparer with the California Tax Education Council (CTEC) can prepare tax returns for a fee.
Always verify the legal status of a tax preparer each year. Licenses and registrations can be suspended or revoked without notice to you!
Tax preparers who cannot be verified as either an attorney, CPA, CRTP or EA are breaking state law and may face penalties up to $5,000. Working with an illegal tax preparer will increase your chances for tax penalties and audits.
Enforcement teams can go after questionable tax preparers, but any damage done on your tax return is still your responsibility.
All CTEC Registered Tax Preparers (CRTPs) are required to first complete 60 hours of qualifying tax education, then 20 hours of continuing tax education each year and always maintain a $5,000 surety bond to protect you against fraud.
CRTPs who prepare tax returns for a fee without an updated registration are breaking state law. You can verify registrations at ctec.org.
The California Tax Education Council (CTEC) is a nonprofit organization that is required to exist (yes, required to exist) by the California State Legislature.
Its mission? To protect innocent taxpayers like you against fraudulent and incompetent tax preparers.
How? By enforcing tax education standards and bonding requirements for unlicensed tax preparers.