What Topics Should My California Tax Preparer Continuing Education Cover?

For California tax preparers, Halloween isn’t just scary because it’s a spooky holiday. It’s also a glaring due date on the calendar. By October 31 each year, every California tax preparer needs to have completed 20 continuing education hours to maintain their tax preparer registrations. What’s more, the California Tax Education Council (CTEC) mandates that those continuing education hours need to cover specific topics.

Don’t let the Halloween deadline loom over you. Use this guide to learn which topics you need for your California tax preparer continuing education hours — and the easiest way to get them.  

The CTEC’s continuing education topic requirements for California tax preparers

Before you jump straight in, trying to reach 20 continuing education hours as quickly as possible, it’s important to make sure you’re ticking the right boxes. The CTEC says that your continuing education hours need to be distributed as follows:

But that’s not the only requirement the CTEC lays out for California tax preparer continuing education.

Finding CTEC-approved continuing education

On top of requiring you to learn about specific topics, the CTEC also requires you to take your continuing education from providers they’ve approved. Fortunately, the CTEC maintains an Approved Education Providers webpage so you can explore your options. 

On that page, choose the “CE” checkbox, indicating you want continuing education hours. Next, you can choose the “Offer FF” checkbox to find courses offered in-person with an instructor or choose the “Offer SS” checkbox to find continuing education you can complete through self-study. You’ll have a few options here, but many California tax preparers find it easiest to choose a continuing education provider who offers courses online. 

If you choose to take your CTEC-approved continuing education online, you can complete hours from your computer whenever you find the time. This way, you can chip away at your hours — completing one here and a couple there — so that the 20-hour requirement never takes up a sizable chunk of your workweek. 

Double-checking for CTEC approval

Feeling worried about making sure your hours are CTEC-approved? There’s another way to double-check that any continuing education course you take will count towards your requirements. 

All CTEC-approved courses will have a course number that’s formatted a specific way: XXXX-CE-XXXX. In other words, you’ll see four digits, a dash, “CE,” another dash, then four more digits. You can scroll to the bottom of this course description to see their course ID as an example.

Once you finish a continuing education course, your provider is required to electronically submit your hours to the CTEC. It pays to make sure you finish your continuing education a bit before Halloween so your provider has ample time to report them to the CTEC and the CTEC has time to process them. 

Fortunately, if you choose an online course that includes the required California tax preparer continuing education topics, you can work through the hours at your own pace and meet all of the CTEC’s requirements fairly easily.