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October 15 Extended Filing Due Date Approaching

October 15 is the last day for taxpayers to timely file their 2003 state income tax returns, according to the Franchise Tax Board (FTB).

"Every year, nearly a million Californians take advantage of the October 15 extension to file their taxes," said State Controller and FTB Chair Steve Westly. "If you're one of them, you only have a few more days to send in your return."

The FTB encourages taxpayers to e-file their returns for accuracy, quick refunds, and to get timely confirmations that your return was received. Taxpayers can e-file using their tax preparer, a commercial online provider, or the FTB’s online CalFile program.

Taxpayers who find they owe by October 15 have electronic options for payment, too. The FTB offers Web Pay and Credit Card payments through their Website at www.ftb.ca.gov. Web Pay is a secure service allowing the convenience of online bill payment. You can pay the current amount you owe and can even schedule future payments such as estimated tax payments, up to one year in advance. The FTB will debit your account for the amount you requested on the date you selected. Taxpayers also have the option to pay their taxes with their Discover/NOVUS, MasterCard, American Express, or Visa cards. To charge it, call (800) 2PAY TAX [(800) 272-9829] or access www.officialpayments.com. The vendor charges a convenience fee. Of course, personal checks will always be accepted.

Next February, the FTB is piloting a new filing option. Ten thousand Californians will receive a completed return to file. The FTB designed a pro forma return to ease the filing burden on taxpayers who file the simplest returns; that is, their only source of income and tax payments are from wages and withholding. Taxpayers will review the return for accuracy. If they agree with the information, they can sign the return and mail it or they can file the return online. If the taxpayer disagrees with the information on the return or does not want to use it, they can simply correct the return or discard it and file the conventional way.

The FTB has received more than 13.9 million tax returns to date. E-filed returns total more than 7 million or 50 percent of all returns filed.