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State of California Franchise Tax Board

FTB's NetFile Program Approved

Direct, Internet Filing Option Provides Free e-file for Many Californians

The Franchise Tax Board today approved the state's NetFile program, a free, direct, Internet tax-filing alternative for the upcoming 2004 tax-filing season.

At its scheduled meeting, the three-member Franchise Tax Board approved a motion by State Controller and FTB Chair Steve Westly to offer NetFile with a two-year moratorium on future enhancements in exchange for the tax software industry's continued free e-file offerings in California.

In what he called a “common-sense compromise” with industry, Controller Westly said the NetFile program currently offered by FTB "saves the state money and makes it as easy as possible for Californians to file their taxes online at the lowest possible cost."

"The FTB staff needs to shift their work from developing new offerings to enhancing the security of current offerings,“ Westly said. ”The FTB should work to ensure that more Californians realize the benefits and savings of electronic filing."

More than six million of the state's 14 million tax returns can be e-filed for free using NetFile. The qualifications include all filing statuses with income up to $271,000. NetFile allows many income sources beyond W-2 wages such as interest, dividends, alimony, and IRA distributions. Taxpayers claiming the Renter's Credit and Child and Dependent Care Credit qualify. Taxpayers who itemize their deductions can use it as well as taxpayers claiming the senior or blind exemption credit.

The FTB first offered free e-filing in September 2002 for the 540 2EZ. For the 2003 filing season, we expanded the service to include 540A and some 540 filers. To date more than 13,000 NetFile returns have been e-filed.

Westly said he hopes many taxpayers will choose to send their returns electronically to save the state from costly manual processing. The NetFile service performs math calculations, tax table look-up functions, and checks for simple processing errors. The benefits of using e-file are quick refunds within seven days; accurate return preparation; it's paperless, and acknowledgement that the FTB received the return.

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