Ask the Advocate September 2018 Tax News

Susan Maples, Taxpayers' Rights Advocate.

Susan Maples, CPA
Taxpayers' Rights Advocate
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@FTBAdvocate

I recently spent several days at the IRS Tax Forum in San Diego. This year, the Tax Forum takes place in Atlanta, National Harbor (MD), San Diego, Chicago and Orlando. The first 4 dates have already taken place, with the last stop (Orlando) coming up September 11 to 13.

For those of you who have never attended, this 3-day event provides tax professionals with continuing professional education, the opportunity to network, and access to exhibitors with products and services that may be of interest to you. Attendees also have the opportunity to meet with IRS specialists who can help resolve a difficult case for one of your clients.

While I was in San Diego, I met informally with many of you. It came as no surprise that one of the top issues you are concerned about are the recent changes in federal tax law and whether California will conform. I want you to know that FTB is working on providing information to you on this topic. We are developing a dedicated webpage on our website for this topic and we will include it in our many education and outreach efforts. Of course, we will also keep you informed through Tax News.

Interestingly enough, one of the areas where I received several questions while at the Tax Forum was about Head of Household filing status and the federal changes to credits for individuals who would formerly have qualified for a dependency exemption deduction. Many of you asked whether there are any California changes in this area. Here’s what I can tell you:

  • For Federal purposes there has been an expansion of both the child tax credit (higher AGI limits and credit amount) and a new lower credit for qualifying dependents that are not qualified children.
  • California has had no substantive changes to our exemption credits, other than indexing the amounts.
  • For HOH filing status, there have been no substantive federal or California changes. One still must use the same filing status for both and the rules as to who qualifies one for HOH and under which circumstances remain the same.

While HOH filing status and exemption credits may not make the “Top 10” list of conformity questions, together these affect nearly all filers. My recent conversations with many of you in San Diego remind me that when we provide updated conformity information, we need to cover as many issues as possible, even those that we might think are straightforward. As your Advocate I will make sure that we do. I also look forward to providing additional conformity information to you as it becomes available, including letting you know when our conformity webpage is available.