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One Half Million State Tax Returns Ready and Waiting

Released: March 24, 2009

The Franchise Tax Board (FTB) today announced that many of the state’s taxpayers who normally file the 540 short form may have a completed tax return waiting for them on its website to review and file---all for free.

“The ReadyReturn program completes your taxes for free and files your return in a matter of minutes,” said State Controller and FTB Chair John Chiang.

ReadyReturn reduces the tax-filing burden by using wage and tax withholding data already provided by employers to complete taxpayers’ returns. The program still offers taxpayers flexibility to change the completed return, or disregard it for another form of filing.

Taxpayers can check to see if they qualify by visiting FTB’s website at ftb.ca.gov and clicking on ReadyReturn. All that is needed is the taxpayer’s name and social security number.

Taxpayers qualify if they filed a 2007 resident tax return with the state as single or head of household, had no more than five dependents, claim no other special credits than the renter’s credit, took the standard deduction, and in 2008 had only one employer. For the first time this year, taxpayers who can be claimed as a dependent on another person's tax return qualify for ReadyReturn.

For taxpayers not eligible for ReadyReturn, FTB offers CalFile; it is a free, direct-to-government, e-file program that accommodates more complicated tax filings. It is a quick online process that takes about 15-30 minutes to complete. With CalFile, the taxpayer types in their tax information and e-files the return from FTB’s website. CalFile is available in both English and Spanish. More than 6 million taxpayers who file the 540 2EZ, 540A, and, to a limited degree, the 540 long form can use CalFile. Key benefits of e-file are that tax returns are more accurate, taxpayers get confirmation that FTB received their return, and the state saves paper-processing costs.