Ask the Advocate August 2019 Tax News

It is always good to hear from you!

Susan Maples, Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate.

Susan Maples, CPA
Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate
Follow me on Twitter

I think most of us look forward to the summer months of July and August because the pace of things tends to slow down a bit between the initial and extended filing deadlines. For me and my staff, this gives us time to prepare for our four annual meetings scheduled for later in the year, beginning with our Executive Officer’s Advisory Board meeting in early August. 

This is also the time when we have the opportunity to attend conferences such as the California Society of Enrolled Agent’s (CSEA) Super Seminars and the Latino Tax Professional Association’s Tax Fest. Having a presence at these events is a vital component of our outreach, allowing us to hear firsthand any issues or concerns you have interacting with the Franchise Tax Board. For example, at the recent CSEA Super Seminars, the two most common things I talked about with those who stopped by my table were real estate withholding and FTB’s new website.

When it comes to the real estate withholding process, FTB recognizes the unique challenges this can present - both for payers remitting withholding and for taxpayers who may be unaware that their funds were held back from a sale. Ideally, all real estate withholding would be remitted, processed and applied to taxpayers’ accounts without any issues. However, from talking to you, I know this is not always the case. For this reason, we are working with our Withholding Services and Compliance Section and other stakeholders to find solutions to issues you may be experiencing.  We will also be providing additional education and outreach materials on this topic. Keep an eye out for more on this in upcoming issues of Tax News.  

The changes to FTB’s website also generated a lot of comments from you.  In late June, FTB’s new website was rolled out as a redesign to improve accessibility to current standards. As a result, there were limits placed on the amount of older or less frequently viewed content brought forward. I have heard from you that some of the content you need is no longer available when you search under the “Tax Pros” link. When this happens, there is a “contact us” link in the search results page where you can submit a request for the missing content, which will then be provided to you within a few business days.  FTB will evaluate these requests to prioritize which documents should be reintroduced to our website in the future.  FTB wants to hear from you about our new website and they have placed a feedback link at the top of each page for this purpose. Take a look and let us know what you think.

Please know that as your Advocate, my staff and I work hard every day of your behalf. I always appreciate your stopping by to see me when I am out at a speech or an event. Sharing your concerns with me and providing specific examples of issues and problems helps our business areas here at FTB to improve our processes and programs and make these work better for you.