Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate
Susan Maples is our Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate. Susan, along with the Executive and Advocate Services staff, are independent of Audit and Collections areas. We help taxpayers who have been unable to resolve their tax problems through normal channels. Our goal is to protect your rights and ensure that your tax problems are handled promptly and fairly.
If this is your first attempt to contact us, see our general assistance information.
Protection of your rights
The California Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights requires us to adequately protect the rights, privacy, and property of all California taxpayers when we assess or collect tax.
Privacy and confidentiality
The privacy of your tax information is of the utmost importance to us. We only share your personal information when we have legal authority to do so. You have the right to know what types of personal information we gather and use and what happens if you do not provide information after we request it from you.
Professional and courteous service
If you believe a Franchise Tax Board (FTB) officer or employee of the board acted in a reckless manner by disregarding published procedures, you may submit your complaint to FTB or possibly the courts. FTB expects its employees to treat taxpayers courteously and to complete tasks; such as audits, within a reasonable amount of time.
You may represent yourself, or with proper authorization, have someone else represent you. If we are conducting an interview and you ask to consult a professional, then we must stop the process and reschedule in most cases.
Pay no more than the correct amount you owe
You should promptly pay the full amount of taxes that you owe. In general, we do not take collection action on an amount you owe until after we give you an opportunity to pay. We prefer to establish a payment arrangement rather than take enforcement action against you such as file a tax lien, levy, and/or seize your property. If you cannot pay your tax liability in full, then you may be eligible to make installment payments.
Protests, appeals, and judicial review
For proposed assessments, you have both protest and appeal rights as a taxpayer. If you disagree with a proposed assessment, you have the right to file a protest with us. If you disagree with FTB’s determination of your protest, you have the right to appeal your case to the Office of Tax Appeals (OTA). Make sure you respond timely to us by the protest by date or appeal by date printed on your notice.
The following publications describe your rights as a taxpayer:
- FTB 4058, California Taxpayers' Bill of Rights - Information for Taxpayers (Revised 01-2011). This publication provides a basic overview of your rights and includes the major provisions of the 1988, 1997, and 1999 California legislation.
- FTB 4058B, Your Rights as a Taxpayer (New 06-2014). A one-page overview of California Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights. This publication highlights some of your basic rights.
- FTB 4058C, California Taxpayers' Bill of Rights - An Overview (Revised 02-2014). This publication describes the Revenue and Taxation Code (R&TC) provisions of your rights.
You may contact the Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate if you have an ongoing state income tax problem that you have been unable to resolve through normal channels. Representatives in Executive and Advocate Services (EAS) coordinate resolution of taxpayer complaints and problems. Depending on your issue, we may either help you get in contact with the appropriate business area or ask you to provide a written request for assistance. If our Department’s action causes you immediate undue hardship, we will address your issue, as appropriate.
When you write to us, you may use FTB 914, Taxpayer Advocate Assistance Request. You may also write your own letter, but you should remember to include:
- Daytime telephone number
- Account number
- Detailed summary of your issue, including the tax years involved
FRANCHISE TAX BOARD
EXECUTIVE AND ADVOCATE SERVICES MS A381
PO BOX 157
RANCHO CORDOVA, CA 95741-0157
If you made an attempt to get tax relief through normal channels, and you can support that you did not contribute to the tax problem in any significant way, the Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate may use discretionary authority, in very limited situations, to grant relief. Use FTB 3705, Request for Taxpayer Advocate Equity Relief, to submit your request. The Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate is authorized to abate penalties, fees, additions to tax, or interest under certain circumstances which are attributable to an FTB error or delay. Please note, an inability to pay does not qualify for relief, and the request will be denied. However, relief and assistance from an inability to pay may be available through these normal channels:
We manage large-scale or systemic problems that affect many taxpayers. If you know of one of these systemic issues, please report it to us through our Systemic Issues Management System. If you personally have an unresolved problem, please send us an email to report your problem.
We coordinate liaison meetings each year where staff meet with members of the California Society of Enrolled Agents and California Society of Certified Public Accountants. We present the projects and issues that Audit, Collections, Filing, and Legal programs plan to work on in the coming year.
- FTB Liaison Meetings
- Taxpayers' Bill of Rights Hearing Responses
- Public Meeting Notices – FTB and Taxpayer Bill of Rights meetings
- Enterprise Data to Revenue and Filing Season Update from 2013 CalCPA Liaison Meeting
The Legislature requires we submit an annual report that identifies recurrent areas where taxpayers fail to comply with the tax law. The report shows both personal income and bank and corporation tax assessment volumes taken from audit process sample data. It also shows taxpayers' errors that we detected during the previous year’s initial tax return processing. It includes our strategies to improve taxpayer compliance through law changes, improved staff training, enhanced communications with taxpayers and tax practitioners, and increased enforcement capabilities.
Taxpayers' Bill of Rights Annual Report to the Legislature
If you filed an appeal with the Office of Tax Appeals (OTA) on an action taken by the Franchise Tax Board, and your appeal has been acknowledged by the OTA, you may qualify for free legal assistance through the Tax Appeals Assistance Program (TAAP). The TAAP is administered by the Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate’s Office.
Qualifying for TAAP
To qualify for free legal assistance, the amount in dispute must be less than $30,000. Other factors for qualification include, but are not limited to, the type of tax issue your appeal involves, availability of staff and resources, and an evaluation of the educational potential of your case.
How TAAP Can Help You
TAAP partners with several California law schools. Law students, supervised by an experienced TAAP tax attorney, assist you during the appeals process. Law students research issues, provide advice and guidance, draft reply briefs, and represent you at pre-hearing conferences and oral hearings before the OTA.
TAAP can assist with appeals involving the following tax issues:
- Head of household filing status
- Penalty relief
- Request to remove or stop interest
- Statute of limitations
- Federal action (notice of proposed assessment based on an action by the Internal Revenue Service)
- California’s method to tax nonresidents or part-year residents
- Child and dependent care credits
- Exemption credits
- Other state tax credits
- Personal income tax deductions
- Corporate minimum tax
- Innocent spouse claims
Contact us to find out if you qualify for the TAAP or if you have questions about the program.
Phone: (916) 845-6227
TTY/TDD: (800) 822-6268 for persons with hearing or speech impairments.
As of January 1, 2019, the Franchise and Income Tax portion of the TAAP was transferred to the Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate’s Office at the Franchise Tax Board from the Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate Office at the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA). This restructure was a result of Assembly Bill 102, The Taxpayer Transparency and Fairness Act of 2017.
- Comparison of California Taxpayers' Bill of Rights to the Federal Law – This table compares California Taxpayers' Bill of Rights provisions to the equivalent federal law.
- Revenue and Taxation Code – More detailed information is available by referring to the actual code sections of the income tax law. Most of the provisions of the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights are contained in Revenue and Taxation Code sections 21001 - 21028.
The Advisory Board is made up of representatives from industry, state, and federal government. The board provides insight and contributions from a non-FTB point of view to our executive officer on the various projects and programs we administer.
The Advisory Board meets at least once a year, and its members include:
Our office coordinates education and outreach efforts that provide tax information to taxpayers, tax practitioners, small business owners, and industry groups throughout California. Our speakers present a variety of tax-related topics, depending on the audience’s interest. The more common presentation topics of interest include California tax updates, forms of ownership, and areas of noncompliance.
We are available to help nonprofit organizations, community groups, and government-funded educational institutions learn more about tax-related issues. Our speakers typically make brief presentations to groups of 25 or more. To request a speaker email us and include your:
- Phone number
- Event’s organizer, name, date, location and address, time, and speaker’s time
- Request topics
- Number of attendees
- Materials/biography deadlines
- Special requirements
Also tell us if your organization can pay travel and hotel costs. Indicate yes, no, or limited commitment. Include your billing address, if applicable.
Small Business Liaison
We develop and provide information to business owners to help them meet their California income tax filing requirements. We participate in small business events throughout the state that provide tax-related information to small business owners and independent contractors participating in the gig economy.
This small business video presentation provides an overview of the different forms of business ownership and discusses some of their key features, tax filing requirements, estimated tax requirements, advantages, and disadvantages.
To contact the Small Business Liaison, call 916.845.4669.
This is our monthly online publication that informs tax professionals about state income tax laws; our regulations, policies; and procedures; and events that affect the tax professional community. It is a critical element in our education and outreach efforts. It is another one of the various media sources we use to communicate our information.
We also periodically release Tax News Flashes to quickly notify subscribers of urgent, time-sensitive information. We offer Tax News Live videos. We are present on both Facebook and Twitter where we share tax-related information.
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- View the current issue and other Tax News products.
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Last Updated: 02.27.2019