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Requirements for the California Tax Preparer

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    • Learn the California requirements for tax preparersAccounting and finance image by MAXFX from Fotolia.com

      Doing your income taxes can confusing, time-consuming and potentially financially dangerous. Many people choose to hire a certified tax preparer--a professional who knows the law, knows the best methods to get the most out of deductions, and who can work through the sticky process of confusing forms, deadlines, and mountains of paperwork. In order to become a tax preparer in California, you must follow the state rules for tax preparers.

    Registration

    • Tax preparers in California must register with the California Tax Education Council, and take out a $5,000 tax preparer's bond. The bond guarantees payment if your advice or workmanship results in fines or fees to a customer. The company that insures the bond must be licensed in California, and the tax preparer must show proof that he is at least 18 years old at the time the bond is issued.

    Code of Conduct

    • Tax preparers must abide by a code of conduct put forth by the California Tax Education Council. For example, any document that is required to be signed or which contains blank spaces that are intended to be signed by the client, must be signed by the client, and overseen by the tax preparer. Failure to acquire signatures where they are needed, or any attempts to "fudge things" and sign for your customer, can result in revocation of your tax preparation credentials.

    Course of Study

    • To become a tax preparer, you must complete course work in basic
      personal income tax law, theory, and practice. You do not necessarily have to have an accounting degree to be a tax preparer in California, provided you complete the appropriate tax-related coursework; in fact you can become certified by taking the required minimum coursework with any CTEC approved education provider. Within 18 months of becoming a tax preparer, you must also successfully complete a 60-hour course of study approved by the CTEC, and submit proof of completion of this approved course to CTEC. Courses should be in both federal taxation law and California taxation law. Without proof of proper study, your tax preparation credentials will not be renewed and you will have to cease and desist immediately from acting as a tax preparer in California.

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