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State of California Franchise Tax Board

Last Minute Tips for California Taxpayers

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Public Affairs Office
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For Immediate Release

04.09.2014

Sacramento – Tax day is Tuesday, April 15. The Franchise Tax Board (FTB) offers time and money saving tips taxpayers should keep in mind.

  • Can’t file on time? California taxpayers get an automatic extension until October 15 to file their tax returns, although taxes owed must be paid by Tuesday, April 15.
  • Free online filing in minutes. FTB has two free e-file programs: CalFile is an easy-to-use e-file option that is available to more than 6.4 million taxpayers. Taxpayers can find CalFile at FTB’s website ftb.ca.gov.

    ReadyReturn is for taxpayers who file simple returns. FTB completes more than 2 million returns for taxpayers who used the single or head of household filing status in the prior year, had one employer, claimed no more than five dependents, and took the standard deduction. Taxpayers can visit FTB’s website to see if a ReadyReturn is completed and waiting for them.
  • Fast refunds through e-file. No matter which filing option taxpayers choose, FTB recommends e-file and direct deposit to get a fast refund - generally within 7-10 days.
  • Access Your Account. Use MyFTB Account to change an address and get information about one’s wages and withholding, estimated tax payments, and more.
  • Pay taxes online. For taxpayers who owe, try Web Pay to pay a tax return balance due or make an extension or estimate payment. Taxpayers can schedule estimated tax payments for the year, sign up for free email reminders, save their bank account number for future use, and much more.
  • Check refunds online. For those who already filed and are expecting a refund, use the Check Your Refund Status tool. FTB also provides this service in Spanish.
  • Estimated tax payment schedule. For taxpayers who need to make quarterly estimate payments, the California schedule differs from federal. To avoid an estimate penalty, taxpayers must pay.
    • First quarter (April 15)   30 percent
    • Second quarter (June 15)   40 percent
    • Third quarter (September 15)     0 percent
    • Fourth quarter (January 15)   30 percent
  • Have a question? Try Live Chat. FTB's Live Chat allows taxpayers to ask an FTB representative general tax questions and get help with FTB’s website in real time. Do not include personal information in a live chat conversation such as social security numbers, business identification numbers, and bank account information.
  • Need help paying taxes. FTB recommends that taxpayers file their return on time and pay what they can with the return. It will save them money in penalties and interest. Payment plans are available for taxpayers who face financial trouble. Those who owe $25,000 or less and can repay the tax within five years generally qualify.
  • Watch for errors if filing a paper return. Double check your math, social security number(s), and the tax amount from the tax tables. Taxpayers can also use the Tax Calculator to figure their 2013 tax by using their filing status and taxable income amount.
  • Short Form 540A discontinued. For taxpayers who file paper returns, FTB eliminated this form due to decreased use.
  • Claim the federal Earned Income Tax Credit. This is a federal incentive for low-to-moderate income individuals and families. Taxpayers earning less than $51,567 can qualify for a “refundable” credit that can total up to $6,044. “Refundable” means that a taxpayer does not have to have a tax liability to get a refund check from the federal government. Taxpayers can check if they qualify by visiting the IRS website at irs.gov and searching for EITC Assistant. California has no comparable state credit.
  • Remember to report use tax. Taxpayers may owe use tax on purchases made from out-of-state or Internet sellers. Use tax can be reported on the California income tax return instead of filing a use tax return with the State Board of Equalization. Taxpayers can use a “look-up” table to report their use tax obligations on their state return. The estimated amount of use tax due is based on the person’s adjusted gross income. For more details, visit the BOE’s website at boe.ca.gov.

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 65 percent of the state’s general fund. For more information on other taxes and fees in California, visit taxes.ca.gov.

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