COVID-19 frequently asked questions for tax relief and assistance

General

How does FTB define who is “affected by the COVID-19 pandemic”? How would they need to demonstrate this?

All California taxpayers are considered affected taxpayers if they have an income tax return filing or payment due date between March 12, 2020 and July 15, 2020.

Can I visit one of your Field Office Public Counters to make a payment or for tax help?

Starting June 15, 2020, all of our Field Office Public Counters in Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Ana, Oakland and Sacramento are open by appointment only.

You can request an appointment in one of the following ways:

  1. Send an email to FTBFieldOfficeAppointments@ftb.ca.gov and include the following:
    • The location of the Field Office in the subject line of your email
    • Your name and phone number
    • Reason for appointment
  2. Contact the field office using the phone numbers listed on our Office Locations page

We will contact you within two business days of receiving your request.

If you need help, use our website to find your answer online. If you need to make a payment, visit Pay by bank account (Web Pay). If you have a MyFTB account, you can also log in and make a bank account payment through Web Pay.

Walk-through revivor

We are processing requests for walk-through revivors remotely and waiving the fee. We should be able to provide the revivor within 24 hours when the requirements are met. Contact us at (888) 635-0494 or use our Revivor Assistance Request Form for further assistance.

Thank you for your patience during this challenging time.

Filing tax returns and income tax payments

Will my scheduled payment automatically be rescheduled to the tax deadline?

Scenario: You e-filed your 2019 personal income tax return. You scheduled a payment for 4/15/2020 through your bank account. Will your payment be automatically rescheduled to the new tax payment due date, 7/15/2020?

Answer: No, your payment will not be automatically rescheduled to 7/15/2020. Unless you cancel it, the payment will still be processed on the scheduled payment date.

Cancel e-file payments on time

You must cancel your payment at least 2 business days before your scheduled payment. If your scheduled payment is on April 15, you must cancel the payment by April 13. We suggest you call us even sooner to cancel your payment.

To cancel the payment, contact us:

Phone
e-file Help Desk
(916) 845-0353
Weekdays, 8 AM to 5 PM

Visit Pay by bank account (Web Pay) to reschedule your payment. If you have a MyFTB account, you can also log in and make a bank account payment through Web Pay.

Note: If you meet the mandatory e-payment requirement, you must pay electronically.

How do I postpone my scheduled estimated tax payments to the new tax deadline?

Scenario: I already e-filed my 2019 business income tax return. I have scheduled automatic payments from my bank account on the standard due dates. How do I postpone my 1st and 2nd quarter payments to the new deadline on 7/15/2020?

Answer: You must cancel your payments and reschedule new payments.

To cancel the payment, contact us:

Phone
e-file Help Desk
(916) 845-0353
Weekdays, 8 AM to 5 PM

You must cancel your payment at least 2 business days before your scheduled payment. We suggest you call us even sooner to cancel your payment.

Visit Pay by bank account (Web Pay) to reschedule your payment. If you have a MyFTB account, you can also log in and make a bank account payment through Web Pay.

Note: If you meet the mandatory e-payment requirement, you must pay electronically.

What business entities qualify for the July 15, 2020, extended deadline to file and pay taxes?

The new extensions apply to any business entity with a California return or payment due between March 12 and July 15. This includes Corporations, S-Corps, LLCs, Partnerships, and other entity types with returns or payments due during this period.

Visit COVID-19 Extensions to file and pay for more information.

I mailed a check that hasn’t been processed yet. Can I cancel my payment?

We recommend that you do not cancel your check – you may incur fees. We can't return any checks you've sent.

Information returns, extensions to file, and postponement period

Scenario: Does the July 15, 2020 extension to file for any return due during the postponement period of March 12, 2020, through July 15, 2020, apply to information returns?

Answer: Yes, the extension applies to the filing of information returns for any person or entity that made reportable transactions during 2019. This extension does not apply to the filing of FTB Form 593, for the reporting of real estate withholding.

If your original due date to file precedes the first day of the March 12, 2020 postponement period but your extended due date falls within the postponement period of March 12, 2020 to July 15, 2020, is the extended due date now July 15, 2020?

Yes, the filing will be considered timely if you file your return on or before July 15, 2020 , the end of the postponement period. If you did not timely pay the tax by the original due date that preceded March 12, 2020 (first date of the postponement period), you will be subject to applicable penalties and interest that continue to accrue during the postponement period.

Traveling or living outside of the United States

Scenario: I will be traveling or living outside of the United States on the original due date of April 15, 2020, which means my tax return and payment are due June 15, 2020. Do I qualify for the July 15, 2020 extension to file and pay taxes for 2019?

Answer: Yes. If you file and pay by July 15, 2020, it will be considered timely. If you need more time to file, the automatic extension due date for taxpayers traveling or living outside of the United States as of April 15, 2020, remains December 15, 2020.

Are there any free tax preparation sites open during the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Most Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) locations are closed during the pandemic. However, there are a limited number of locations around the state that continue to operate.

Visit the IRS’ Get Free Tax Prep Help page frequently for updated information on available sites and hours.

Are there any free online tax preparation options available for taxpayers while VITA locations are closed?

Yes, taxpayers, can file their federal tax return online for free using the IRS Federal Free File program.

Taxpayers can file their California state tax return online using our free CalFile program.

CalFile is fast, easy, and free. It uses a simple step-by-step fill-in-the-blank process to complete the state tax return. Registration is not required to use CalFile and taxpayers are able to claim both CalEITC and the new Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC) using the program.

FTB also has a list of other free online tax preparation options.

When will the current year notices and bills be mailed?

FTB routinely holds current tax year notices until we have processed all timely payments. This year, FTB plans to begin releasing Notices of Tax Return Change (NTRC) with balances due and Statements of Tax Due for the 2019 tax year in August, after the new 7/15/20 due date to file a return and pay.

COVID-19 Economic impact payments - CARES Act

Does California conform to IRS Notice 2020-46 regarding the exclusion from income of sick, vacation, or personal leave that employees elect to forgo in exchange for cash payments made by employers to charitable organizations that provide relief to victims of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes, the value of leave donated in exchange for amounts paid before January 1, 2021, to organizations that aid victims of COVID-19 is excludable from an employee’s income for California income tax purposes. Electing employees may not claim a charitable deduction for the value of the donated leave.

Are the payments that individuals receive from the federal government (i.e., $1,200 [$2,400 for individuals filing a joint return] and $500 per qualifying child) under the recently enacted federal CARES Act subject to California income tax?

No, these payments are not subject to California income tax.

Is the emergency increase in unemployment compensation benefits (in the amount of $600 per week) that individuals receive under the recently enacted federal CARES Act subject to California income tax?

No, these payments are not subject to California income tax.

Are the modifications for net operating losses (NOLs) in the recently enacted federal CARES Act applicable for California income and franchise tax purposes?

No, these modifications for NOLs do not apply for California income and franchise tax purposes.

Does California conform to the federal early withdrawal penalty waivers for distributions from qualified retirement accounts under the recently enacted federal CARES Act?

Yes, the federal early withdrawal penalty waivers for distributions from qualified retirement accounts under the federal CARES Act also applies for California income tax purposes.

What is the fastest way to get my federal stimulus payment if I don’t normally file a tax return?

The IRS website has a tool to help taxpayers get their Economic Impact Payment quickly.

The non-filer tool provides a free and easy option designed for people who don’t have a return filing obligation, including those with too little income to file.

Visit the IRS' Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here webpage and select the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here button to access the tool.

Where can I go for more information on the federal stimulus payment?

The IRS will post additional updates on their Coronavirus Tax Relief and Economic Impact Payments page.  

Collection Actions

Have you delayed any collection activities?

Similar to the IRS, we implemented a temporary suspension on a number of collection activities within our personal income tax, business entity tax, and nontax debt (court-ordered debt and vehicle registration collection) programs through July 15, 2020:

  • Wage attachments, bank levies, liens, and field agent calls/visits are suspended
  • Suspension of business entities with the Secretary of State (SOS) are delayed
  • The Top 500 Delinquent Taxpayers List is delayed
  • An extension has been granted to taxpayers whose financial hardship was scheduled to expire

Will you stop offsetting income tax refunds?

The offset program collects money from tax refunds or other government payments owed by taxpayers to FTB and other government agencies.

Most new and existing offset requests are suspended, including:

  • Offsets of California Income Tax Refunds to state and local agencies.
  • Offsets of Lottery prizes and unclaimed property
  • Offsets of Federal Treasury (IRS) refunds (including the Federal Economic Impact Payment Checks)

Will you suspend monthly payments for payment plans (installment agreements)?

Existing payment plans

If you currently can’t comply with the terms of an existing installment agreement (payment plan), you may request to skip your payments. You can request to skip payments online or by phone at (800) 689-4776.

For court-ordered debt installment agreements, you can request to skip payments online by logging into your court-ordered debt account or by phone at (916) 845-4064.

If you’re able to meet your monthly payments, we encourage you to still pay because interest continues to accrue on all unpaid balances. If you’re not able to make your monthly payments, we will not default your installment agreement during this extension period through July 15, 2020.

New payment plans

You can apply for a payment plan if you’re unable to fully pay your state taxes (as usual). If you have court-ordered debt, you can also apply for a payment plan. You can apply online, by phone, or mail. For more information:

Does the July 15 extension apply to Offers in Compromise (OIC)?

We will not issue any denials on OICs prior to July 15, 2020. We will also allow taxpayers until July 15 to provide requested information to support a pending OIC. Any OIC payment currently due will be extended until July 15.

Can I get my tax lien released?

We will work with taxpayers impacted by COVID -19 that have liens filed and are trying to secure financing to cover payroll, pay off their debts, etc.

When you contact us, we will perform a case-by-case evaluation. This will allow us to do the following:

  • Evaluate each situation
  • Determine whether the lien release would be in the best interest of you and the state

Program areas will work with you to request any needed documentation, and make a determination. If we determine a lien release is appropriate, we will assist with submitting the lien release to the appropriate county (ies).

Estimate payments

Can I combine the first and second quarterly estimated tax payments into one payment?

Yes. You can combine the first and second quarterly estimated tax into one payment which is due on July 15, 2020. Visit Pay by bank account (Web Pay) to schedule your estimate payment.

If you have a MyFTB account, you can also log in and make a bank account payment through Web Pay.

To pay by check, include one quarterly voucher with your check and be sure to write the combined dollar amount of the estimated tax on the voucher.

Estimate payments and underpayments

Scenario 1: I failed to make a 2019 estimate payment that was due before the beginning of the postponement period on March 12, 2020. Am I subject to the underpayment of estimated tax penalty?

Answer: Yes. You are still subject to the underpayment of estimated tax penalty if you failed to make an estimate payment for the 2019 tax year that was due prior to the beginning of the postponement period on March 12, 2020.

Scenario 2: I failed to make a timely 2019 estimate payment that was due prior to the postponement period on March 12, 2020. I am subject to the underpayment of estimate tax penalty. How is the penalty computed now that the due date for 2019 tax returns is postponed until July 15, 2020?

Answer: For an individual the penalty is computed from the due date of the installment to the earlier of April 15, 2020, or the date the underpayment is paid. For a calendar year corporation the penalty is computed from the due date of the installment to the earlier of March 15, 2020, or the date the underpayment is paid.

Example: A calendar corporation underpaid its fourth quarter installment due December 15, 2019, and did not pay the balance until July 15, 2020. The penalty would be computed from December 15, 2019, to March 15, 2020. (RTC 19145)

The postponement of the original due date did not change the estimated tax requirements or estimated tax penalty for 2019 for a calendar year filer because the due dates fell prior to March 12, 2020. Relief from the penalty may be available under the normal rules.

Fiscal year filer and estimate payments

Scenario: I am a fiscal year filer and have a 2019 estimate payment due during the postponement period of March 12, 2020, through July 15, 2020. Do I now have until July 15, 2020 to make the estimate payment?

Answer: Yes. The 2019 estimate payment for a fiscal year filer that is due during the postponement period of March 12, 2020, through July 15, 2020, will be considered timely if made by July 15, 2020.

Original signatures for paper returns and other documents

Scenario: You need to send us your paper return or other documents that need to be filed with original signatures. During the postponement period of March 12, 2020 through July 15, 2020, it may be difficult to obtain original signatures. Will FTB accept other types of signatures during the postponement period?

Answer: Yes. For paper returns and other documents that must be signed with an original signature by you and/or your tax representative during the postponement period of March 12, 2020, through July 15, 2020, we will not require an original signature, except for Power of Attorneys (POAs).

We will accept 2 signature alternative methods for paper returns:

  • Method 1: An attached document that must be included with the filed return that provides a copy of the original signature. The attached document should:
    • Identify what the document signature is for (Example: Corp XX, 2019 Form 100)
    • State “Refer to the attachment for a copy of the original signature” on the signature line
  • Method 2: A paper return with a faxed signature on the signature page

For all other documents, except POAs, filed with us that require an original signature, we will accept documents with photographed or digital copies of required signatures.

You can also upload a document with a signature into MyFTB. Please note that only PDF and Excel documents are currently accepted.

These temporary procedures do not apply to filing a POA. Follow the procedure on Submit a power of attorney if you need to submit a POA to us.

Filing Compliance Programs

Will you delay any Non-Filer compliance activities?

Yes. We’ve suspended Requests, Demands, and related Notices of Proposed Assessment for prior year returns until July 15.

Reminder: If you have not filed your return for tax years before 2019, you should file your delinquent returns - especially if you’ll receive refunds.

We will continue to handle Filing Enforcement protests. Protests submitted on or before July 15, 2020, by mail or as a message in MyFTB will be considered timely. To use the MyFTB protest service, you would need to do so by the "protest by" date on the notice. 

Audit Programs

Have you delayed any audit activities?

Our audit, claims and protest programs for the most part continue with some modifications:

  • We are using various alternate communication methods to interact with taxpayers and representatives vs. in-person meetings
  • We are accepting, on a temporary basis, electronically signed waivers to extend the statute of limitations
  • We are granting extensions of time to respond to document requests
  • We will generally not start a new field or correspondence audit case through April
  • During this time, we encourage taxpayers to respond to any requests for information they have already received or may receive on audit activity

Please note we’re still issuing Notices of Proposed Assessment and Notices of Action.  The “protest by” or “appeal by” dates that appear on the notices will not reflect the extended timeframes. However, we will allow for the extended time to protest or appeal through 7/15/2020.  Visit Notice of Proposed Assessment and Notice of Actions FAQs and FTB Notice 2020-02 for more information.

We will closely monitor the situation and evaluate any additional modifications that may be needed.

Statute of limitations, postponements, and COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, will FTB still require taxpayers and/or tax representatives to provide statute of limitations waivers containing original signatures?

We will temporarily accept statute of limitations (SOL) waivers with e-Signatures.

Taxpayers and/or their representatives may submit signed SOL waivers to us by one of the following methods:

  • Fax the SOL waiver to us with a handwritten signature
  • Email a copy of the SOL waiver with a handwritten signature to us from a verified email address
  • Upload a scanned copy of the SOL waiver with a handwritten signature to the taxpayers’ MyFTB accounts
  • Upload a scanned copy of the SOL waiver with a handwritten signature to cloud storage and provide our staff the link to download the waiver
  • New: Utilize a third party service, such as DocuSign, for their Electronic Signature solution

The e-Signatures option is temporary through December 31, 2020.

Statute of limitations and claim for refund

Scenario 1: The statute of limitations for filing a timely claim for refund expires during the postponement period of March 12, 2020, through July 15, 2020. Will the FTB consider a claim filed on or before July 15, 2020, timely?

Answer: Yes. In cases where an applicable statute of limitations expires during this period, we will consider a claim for refund timely if filed on or before July 15, 2020.  This extension applies to a letter claim or an amended return claiming an overpayment of tax.     

Scenario 2: The statute of limitations to claim a refund of payments made within one year of the date of the claim expires between the postponement period of March 12, 2020, through July 15, 2020. Does a taxpayer have an extension to file the claim?

Answer: Yes, if the actual statute of limitations to claim a refund under the one-year look-back period expires during this period, we will consider the claim for refund timely if filed on or before July 15, 2020. 

Notice of Proposed Assessment and Notice of Action

Scenario 1: FTB issued a Notice of Proposed Assessment (NPA) for additional tax and the 60 days to file a timely written protest expires during the postponement period of March 12, 2020, through July 15, 2020. Does a taxpayer have an extension to file a timely protest? 

Answer: Yes, if the period to file a timely protest of an NPA expires during the postponement period, the FTB will consider the protest timely if filed on or before July 15, 2020. Protests may be submitted as a message in MyFTB. However, to use the MyFTB protest service, you would need to do so by the “protest by” date on the notice.

Scenario 2: FTB issued a Notice of Action (NOA) either denying a claim for refund or affirming a tax deficiency and the time to file a timely appeal with the Office of Tax Appeals (OTA) expires between the postponement period of March 12, 2020, through July 15, 2020. Does a taxpayer have an extension to file a timely appeal with OTA?

Answer: Yes, if the time period to file a timely appeal from an NOA providing appeal rights to the taxpayer expires during the postponement period, the appeal will be considered timely if filed with OTA on or before July 15, 2020. 

Scenario 3: The statute of limitations for FTB to issue a Notice of Proposed Assessment (NPA) expires during the postponement period of March 12, 2020, through July 15, 2020. Is an NPA issued to a taxpayer on or before July 15, 2020 considered timely under the applicable statute of limitations?

Answer: Yes, the statute of limitations to issue an NPA is one of the time-sensitive acts that may be extended whenever there is a Governor declared state of emergency or a presidentially declared disaster. That means if the applicable statute of limitations to issue an NPA expires during the postponement period of March 12, 2020, through July 15, 2020, FTB has until July 15, 2020, to issue a timely assessment. 

Rehearing with the Office of Tax Appeals

Scenario: The taxpayer or FTB disagrees with a written opinion of the Office of Tax Appeals (OTA) and wants to file a petition for rehearing but the 30-day time period to file the petition expires during the postponement period of March 12, 2020, through July 15, 2020. Does a taxpayer or FTB have an extension to file a timely petition for rehearing with OTA?

Answer: Yes, if the time period to file a timely petition for rehearing with OTA expires during the postponement period, the petition for rehearing will be considered timely if filed with OTA on or before July 15, 2020. 

Nonresident nonwage withholding

I submitted Form 588, Nonresident Withholding Waiver request and there’s been no response. What should I do?

Scenario: You submitted Form 588, Nonresident Withholding Waiver request to FTB. It’s been 21 business days and you have not received a response. Does this mean FTB denied the waiver request and you should withhold?

Answer: If you have not received a response from us within 21 business days, this does not mean we denied your request. We’re working to complete them as quickly as possible.

If you have not heard back from us within 60 business days, call the Withholding Services and Compliance Section at (888) 792-4900. If you wish to deem the request denied, please note these nonwage nonresident withholding forms and payments extensions:

Original nonwage withholding file and pay due dates Extensions on nonwage withholding file and pay due dates
April 15, 2020 (covering the period January 1 through March 31, 2020) July 15, 2020
June 15, 2020 (covering the period April 1, 2020 through May 31, 2020) July 15, 2020

As a general rule, withholding is required unless we issue a determination notice authorizing a waiver.

I have not received a response to my Form 589, Nonresident Reduced Withholding Request. How do I know if it’s been approved?

Typically, we respond to Form 589 requests within 10 business days for those filed online and 21 business days for those filed by mail. We’re working to complete them as quickly as possible.

If you have not heard back from us after 60 business days, call the Withholding Services Compliance Section at (888) 792-4900.

As a general rule, withholding on the full amount is required unless we approve your request.

Real estate withholding

Does real estate withholding have an extension to file and send in payment because of COVID-19?

No. Any amount required to be withheld and remitted for the transfer of real property is due by the 20th day of the month following the close of escrow. Similarly, you must file Form 593, Real Estate Withholding Statement no later than the 20th day following the month escrow closes.

Visit Real estate withholding for more information.

As a real estate escrow person, why do I not get an extension to file and pay?

As a real estate escrow person, you’re responsible for closing the transaction and are typically the withholding agent or the remitter.

If you’re able to conduct business and close escrow, then you’re still required to withhold on the sale of California real estate, remit the withholding and file the applicable withholding forms.

Will I be penalized if I can’t submit forms or payments due to office closures, etc.?

We will review these on a case-by-case basis and determine whether reasonable cause has been shown.

If you’ve been penalized during this time and believe you qualify for penalty relief, please respond as indicated at the bottom of your notice or fax your request and substantiating documents to (916) 845-9512.

Can I make electronic payments for real estate withholding?

Right now, you cannot make electronic payments for real estate withholding.

If you have a CA corporation ID number, you may file by EFT through your bank using payment type code 01190. Visit Electronic funds transfers for corporations or call us at (916) 845-4025 for more information.

1031 like-kind exchanges

For California tax purposes, if a taxpayer’s 1031 like-kind exchange identification period or exchange period is due to expire on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020, taxpayer’s identification period and exchange period is extended until July 15, 2020.

Scenario: The 45-day period to identify a replacement property in an IRC section 1031 like-kind exchange expires on May 1, 2020. Do I have an extension to July 15, 2020, to identify prospective replacement properties?

Answer: Yes, if your 45-day identification period expires between April 1, 2020, and July 15, 2020, you have until July 15, 2020, to identify prospective replacement properties.

Scenario: The period to complete an IRC section 1031 like-kind exchange expires on May 1, 2020. Do I have an extension to July 15, 2020, to complete the exchange?

Answer: Yes, if the period to complete the exchange (typically a 180-day period) expires between April 1, 2020, and July 15, 2020, you have until July 15, 2020, to complete your exchange transaction.

Individual status letter

An Individual Status Letter (FTB 4148), does the following:

  • Helps you get student loans or Veterans Affairs (VA) financing
  • Shows lenders and third parties, such as employers, that you have no outstanding California income tax obligations

You can receive a letter for:

  • Yourself
  • A minor child under age 18 (birth certificate required)
  • An individual over age 18 (a signed statement authorizing Franchise Tax Board (FTB) to release information on their behalf is required)

How to receive a letter

Due to the current COVID 19 State of Emergency, FTB will process these requests prior to the postponed 2019 tax return due date of July 15th.

Email the following to FTBIndividualStatusLetter@ftb.ca.gov:

  • Student’s name and address
  • Requester’s telephone number and email address