California tax filing season opens
For Immediate Release
Sacramento – The Franchise Tax Board (FTB) is now accepting 2017 state tax returns for a filing season that extends through April 17, two days beyond the traditional deadline because of a federal holiday. FTB encourages taxpayers to take advantage of the agency’s online services and take the necessary steps to protect themselves and their refunds.
Free filing help is available for many taxpayers with limited incomes, and is often available on military bases for service members. For a list of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program locations throughout California, go to ftb.ca.gov and search for free tax help.
Expanded state Earned Income Tax Credit
This year, California’s expanded, cash-back Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) will be available to as many as 1.1 million more families.
People who work for an employer or are self-employed are now eligible for CalEITC. In addition, for the first time, a family making the state minimum wage may now qualify for CalEITC. That means those earning $22,300 or less could be eligible.
CalEITC is refundable, meaning that taxpayers will receive money if the credit is greater than taxes owed.
A family can receive hundreds or even thousands of dollars back between CalEITC and the companion federal EITC.
More details about CalEITC and the federal EITC are available at CalEITC4me.org.
Prevent identity theft and refund fraud
FTB continues to be focused on preventing identity theft and refund fraud. To combat this growing crime, FTB joined an IRS-led partnership of public agencies and software companies working together to identify and stop false returns at the time of filing.
Tax professionals and taxpayers should also stay alert by:
- Avoiding email when discussing confidential tax matters. Instead, use secure online services such as MyFTB.
- Watching for phishing schemes, such as any caller threatening jail for nonpayment. Report any potential scams to FTB.
- Filing early if possible. The sooner FTB has your tax return, the sooner FTB staff can verify it and process a refund.
- Using online resources like the California Attorney General’s site at https://oag.ca.gov/idtheft for safety tips and information on data breaches.
Increased standard deductions and exemption credits
For the 2017 tax year, the standard deduction for single or filing separately tax statuses increased to $4,236. For joint, surviving spouse, or head of household filers, the deduction grew to $8,472.
The dependent exemption credit increased to $353 per dependent. The personal exemption amount for single, filing separately, and head of household filers increased to $114. For joint or surviving spouses, the exemption grew to $228.
FTB’s MyFTB service allows users to view their tax documents, check balances due, access tax calculators, send secure messages to FTB staff, and more.
FTB offers free electronic filing for state tax returns through CalFile, an easy-to-use tool available to more than 6.4 million taxpayers. CalFile allows taxpayers to file directly with FTB and provides instant confirmation. Taxpayers can find a list of other filing options at ftb.ca.gov.
Walk-in service is available at five regional FTB field offices weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. The field offices are in Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego, and Santa Ana. Taxpayers may pay using MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover, debit card, check, cashier’s check, or money order. A service fee of 2.3 percent is charged for credit card transactions.
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 70 percent of the state’s general fund. For more information on other taxes and fees in California, visit: taxes.ca.gov.