Ask the Advocate May 2020 Tax News

Working from home, but still here to help

Susan Maples, Taxpayers' Rights Advocate.

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

In preparing for this month’s column, I looked back to May of last year to see what I wrote about. I do this from time to time because our work tends to be cyclical and there may be certain things that should be mentioned this time of year. In a more normal year, these might be some post-April 15 tips for you, e.g., letting you know when notices will be mailed or the different options available when a balance due to FTB cannot immediately be paid.

Interestingly enough, this is how my May 2019 column, discussing the coming changes to FTB’s website began: “2019 has definitely been a year of change for tax professionals. Depending on the focus of your practice, these changes may have been significant for you.” While for many practitioners (and FTB) those were significant changes, they pale in comparison to what we have all recently experienced at work, at home, and in our lives.

Like many of you, I am now working remotely as is much of FTB and the IRS. It’s an entirely new experience having meetings with my staff and others online, while competing with my children for internet bandwidth at home whenever their “distance learning” is underway. I began my professional career in a time when the internet and personal computers were not widely available and I can only imagine the obstacles we would have faced trying to work effectively from home back then.

FTB still has a minimum number of essential staff on campus though to:

  • Keep our systems running
  • Process returns
  • Answer your phone calls
  • Provide assistance to those who contact us online and through MyFTB

However, they are practicing social distancing and working staggered shifts in order to keep everyone safe and healthy.

In the meantime, we are doing our best to keep you updated and informed about the changes to California’s tax filing and payment due dates and other time-sensitive matters. I would strongly recommend regularly checking our COVID-19 page. This is a great resource for timely updates on the assistance FTB is providing to California taxpayers and tax professionals impacted by COVID-19. Some of the topics addressed by the FAQs include the extensions to the file and pay dates for nearly all taxpayers, the federal COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments – CARES Act, and the extended deadlines for certain deadlines within a 1031 like-kind exchange, just to name a few. We have already sent a few of the FAQs to you as Tax News Flashes, but there are many others we haven’t so it’s definitely worth taking a look.

In closing, I hope that all of you are safe, staying healthy and doing well. I look forward to being back in the office and seeing friends and colleagues again. I also look forward to seeing you at some of the larger events we attend each year, sometimes staffing a table or booth. Hopefully, we will be able to do that later this year.