FTB Offers Last-Minute Tips for California Taxpayers

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For Immediate Release

04.09.2015

Sacramento —  With the approach of tax day -- Wednesday, April 15 -- the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) offers tips for taxpayers to save time and money.

“This can be a stressful time of year for taxpayers, but they should rest assured that free help is available,” said FTB Chair and State Controller Betty T. Yee.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Access your account. Use MyFTB Account to change an address and get information about your wages and withholding, estimated tax payments, and more. 
  • File online in minutes. FTB offers free electronic filing through CalFile, an easy-to-use tool available to more than 6.4 million taxpayers. FTB recommends setting up direct deposit to get a fast refund - generally within 7 to 10 days.
  • If filing on paper… Use paper clips, not staples, to attach documents. Double-check calculations, Social Security numbers, and the tax amount from the tax tables. Taxpayers can also use the Tax Calculator to determine 2014 tax by entering filing status and taxable income amount.
  • Claim the federal Earned Income Tax Credit. Taxpayers earning less than $52,247 can claim the Earned Income Tax Credit on the federal 1040. The credit, which can total as much as $6,143, is refundable, meaning a taxpayer does not have to owe taxes to get the full amount. Taxpayers can check if they qualify by visiting the IRS website at irs.gov and searching for EITC Assistant. California has no comparable state credit.
  • Need health insurance? California is offering a special extension to buy health insurance through the state exchange for people unaware of a federal tax penalty for not having insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. To explore health insurance options, visit coveredca.com.
  • Report the use tax. Taxpayers may owe use tax on purchases made from out-of-state or Internet sellers. Use tax can be reported on the California income tax return instead of filing a use tax return with the State Board of Equalization. Taxpayers can use a look-up table to determine how much they owe. The estimated amount of use tax due is based on a taxpayer’s adjusted gross income. For more details, visit the BOE website at boe.ca.gov.   
  • Pay taxes online. Taxpayers can use Web Pay to pay a balance due or make an estimate payment. Taxpayers can schedule estimated tax payments for the year, sign up for free email reminders, save bank account numbers for future use, and more.
  • Can’t file on time?  California taxpayers get an automatic extension until October 15, although taxes owed must be postmarked by Wednesday, April 15. Those unsure of whether they will owe money can consult FTB’s Tax Calculator.
  • Need help paying taxes? FTB recommends that taxpayers file returns on time and pay what they can to avoid penalties and interest. Payment plans are available for taxpayers who face financial trouble. Those who owe $25,000 or less and can repay within five years generally qualify.  
  • Stay on schedule. For taxpayers who need to make quarterly estimated payments, the California schedule differs from the federal. To avoid a penalty, taxpayers must pay:
    • First quarter (April 15)                  30 percent
    • Second quarter (June 15)             40 percent
    • Third quarter (September 15)        0 percent
    • Fourth quarter (January 15)          30 percent
  • Have a question? FTB's Live Chat allows taxpayers to ask an FTB representative general tax questions and get help with FTB’s website in real time. (Live Chat is not a secure channel; do not offer personal information, such as Social Security numbers, business identification numbers, or bank account information.) Ask a Legal Expert allows taxpayers to submit basic tax questions to FTB’s Legal Division.

FTB administers two of California's major tax programs: Personal Income Tax and the Corporation Tax. FTB also administers other non tax programs and delinquent debt collection functions, including delinquent vehicle registration debt collections on behalf of the Department of Motor Vehicles, and court–ordered debt. Annually, FTB’s tax programs collect more than 65 percent of the state’s general fund. For more information on other taxes and fees in California, visit taxes.ca.gov.

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