Last-Minute Tax Tips for California Taxpayers
With the tax filing deadline upon us, here's a list of tax tips last minute tax filers should know, according to the Franchise Tax Board (FTB).
“Taxpayers need to remember that the state offers a lot of tax help,” said State Controller and FTB Chair Steve Westly. “You can get information and assistance on our Website at www.ftb.ca.gov or by calling.”
April 15 is Not the Last Day to File
Can't file April 15? California has an automatic six-month extension until October 15 to file. However, the extension is for filing your return only. If you owe, you'll need to pay your taxes by the April 15 due date to avoid interest and penalties.
Taxpayers can pay their taxes through the FTB's Website. Web Pay works much like a debit card transaction. Taxpayers can authorize the FTB to withdraw funds from their bank account on a specific date, on or before April 15, to satisfy their return balance due or extension payment. Taxpayers can also make estimated tax or bill payments.
Taxpayers can also pay their taxes with their Discover/NOVUS, MasterCard, American Express, or Visa cards. To charge it, call (800) 2PAY TAX [(800) 272-9829] or access www.officialpayments.com. The vendor will charge a convenience fee.
Can't pay your taxes? Taxpayers can now submit a payment plan request through the FTB's Website and hear back with an answer within a couple of days. If you owe less than $10,000 and can repay it within three years, you will generally qualify.
For Fast Refunds - You'll Want to e-file
The road to a fast refund runs through your computer. The benefits of e-file include fast, accurate return processing, speedy refunds (within seven days if you use direct deposit), and acknowledgement that the FTB received your return. To e-file, taxpayers have three options:
- The FTB offers free e-file services. The 2EZ Direct serves taxpayers who are single or head of household earning $50,000 or less, or married earning $100,000 or less. Taxpayers can claim up to three dependents, take the standard deduction, and claim the renter's credit if qualified. 2EZ filers must be under 65 and not blind. Visit the FTB's Website at www.ftb.ca.gov, and look for the free FTB e-file options.
- Commercial tax software companies offer e-file. Visit the FTB's Website to get links to online service providers. Commercial e-filing may be free for some taxpayers-be sure to review your options.
- Professional tax preparers. Many professional tax practitioners are authorized to e-file.
Plenty of Tax Help Available
Taxpayers can visit the FTB's Website to get a quick overview of important information for this year's taxes, get answers to frequently asked tax questions, download tax forms, take advantage of free e-file, and use one of the many e-services available.
The FTB's automated phone service at (800) 338-0505 is available anytime to get answers to questions and to check on payments, balances due, or refunds. To speak with a customer service representative, call the FTB at (800) 852-5711 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 12.
Taxpayers can visit any one of 16 field offices located statewide, open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Contact the FTB to locate the nearest office. For free help completing simple tax returns, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs staff more than 1,100 volunteer centers statewide. For the nearest location, call the FTB or visit the Website.
Tax Relief for Military Deployed to Combat Zones
California tax law generally conforms to federal tax benefits for combat zones and qualified hazardous duty areas. These include:
- Exclusion of combat zone pay from taxable income.
- Extensions of the filing due date for personal income tax returns until at least 180 days after leaving the combat zone or qualified hazardous duty area without incurring penalties or interest.
- Suspension of delinquent tax collection of military personnel serving in the combat area for 180 days after leaving the combat zone or qualified hazardous duty area.
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