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State Ends TeleFile Program

Former TeleFilers Can Use CalFile

The state's file-by-phone program known as TeleFile is discontinued for this year, according to the Franchise Tax Board (FTB).

TeleFile debuted in 1996. Due to decreased usage, the FTB determined it was no longer cost beneficial to maintain the program. TeleFile's usage peaked in 1998 with 299,000 taxpayers phoning in their taxes. Last year the number of TeleFilers dropped to 74,000.

The FTB reports that displaced TeleFilers can still use technology to file their returns and still enjoy free filing, quick refunds, and reduced errors by using the state's CalFile service or one of many free e-file services offered by participating companies.

"Online filing offers Californians an easy and fast way to file their tax returns," said State Controller and FTB Chair Steve Westly.

CalFile is the FTB's no fee, direct-to-government e-file program. It is available to more than 6 million taxpayers who file the 540 2EZ, 540A, and to a limited degree the 540 long form. CalFile accepts income of nearly $280,000, itemized deductions, and some tax credits.

Many commercial e-file companies offer free e-file services to certain customers. The benefits of using e-file are quick refunds within seven days, accurate return preparation that is paperless, and acknowledgement that the FTB received the return.

The FTB expects to receive more than 7.9 million e-file returns from tax practitioners and taxpayers this year, compared to 7.2 million e-file returns received last year. In total, more than 14 million returns will be filed this year. When taxpayers e-file, they save the state money. Compared to a handwritten return that is mailed, the state saves $1.

Taxpayers can visit the FTB's Website at www.ftb.ca.gov to find CalFile. Also on hand is information on this year's taxes, answers to frequently asked questions, and all other e-services. Taxpayers also have the ability to check the status of payments, balances due, refunds, and use electronic methods to pay their taxes. For quick refunds, taxpayers should request Direct Deposit, which allows the state controller to deposit refunds directly into bank accounts.