CalFile Qualifications 2018

General

Qualify Do not qualify
  • Filing an original 2018 return
  • A California resident for the entire year
  • Claiming 10 or fewer dependents
  • Claiming educator expenses on your federal return that do not exceed $250 ($500 if filing jointly)
  • Plan to file using the Filing Status, Qualifying widow(er) with dependent child, but you cannot claim your one and only dependent (child, stepchild, or adopted child) because:
    • the child had gross income of $4,150 or more, or
    • the child filed a joint return
  • Filing an amended return or a return for someone who died
  • Asking for a military extension
  • Asking for an extension because of a disaster
  • You have Health Savings Account (HSA) deductions or distributions
  • Spouse/RDP was active duty military and was domiciled in a community property state other than California
  • Claiming a disaster loss
  • Claiming Mortgage Debt Relief
  • Claiming Capital gains or losses
  • Claiming business or farming income or loss (federal Schedule C, D, F) See EITC exception
  • Claiming the income exclusions for rebates, vouchers, or other financial incentive issued by a local water agency or supplier, energy agency, or energy supplier
  • Claiming the income exclusion for financial incentive for seismic improvement - which includes loan forgiveness, grant credit, rebate, voucher or other financial incentive issued by the California Residential Mitigation program or California Authority
  • Claiming income or loss from rental real estate, royalties, partnerships, S corporations, estates, trusts, REMICs, etc. (federal Schedule E)
You received federal form 1099-C (Cancellation of Debt)

Income limits

Qualify Do not qualify
  • Your federal Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) can be up to:
    • Single or married/RDP filing separately:
      • $194,504
    • Head of household:
      • $291,760
    • Married/RDP filing jointly or qualifying widow(er):
      • $389,013
  • Your federal AGI on Form 1040 (line 7) is:
    • $0 or less

Income sources

Qualify Do not qualify
  • Wages, salaries, and tips or taxable scholarship and fellowship grants reported on Form W-2
  • Taxable scholarships and grants not reported on a Form W-2 (e.g. reported on Form 1098T)
  • Interest and dividends reported on Form 1099-INT or 1099-DIV
  • IRA distributions, pensions, and annuities reported on Form 1099-R
  • Social security benefits reported on Form SSA-1099
  • Gambling winnings reported on Form W-2G
  • Unemployment compensation, paid family leave, and tax refund reported on Form 1099-G
  • Alimony
  • Railroad retirement payments reported on Form RRB-1099 or RRB-1099-R

Wages

  • You received a substitute or corrected W-2, W-2C, or a Form 4852
  • Wages or other income was exempted from federal tax by U.S. treaties
  • W-2 box 12, a, b, c, d is Q (nontaxable combat pay)
  • W-2 box 13 statutory employee is checked

Interest and dividends

  • Interest from non-California State or Municipal bonds
  • The California tax-exempt interest dividends you received from mutual funds is less than the federal tax-exempt interest dividends
  • You elected to report your child's interest and dividends

IRAs, pensions, or annuities

  • You owe tax on an early distribution from an IRA or other retirement plan
  • You have Roth IRA conversions or distributions (federal Form 8606)

If any of these were your only source(s) of income:

  • Unemployment compensation
  • Paid family leave benefits
  • Social security benefits
  • California does not tax this income

Adjustments

Federal

Qualify Do not qualify

Any adjustments to income on your federal return are from:

  • Penalty on early withdrawal of savings
  • Alimony paid
  • IRA deduction
  • Student loan interest deduction

No restrictions other than those listed under General.

California

Qualify Do not qualify

Any adjustments to your Federal AGI are from:

  • California income tax refund
  • Nontaxable interest and ordinary dividends
  • Unemployment compensation and/or unpaid family leave
  • Social Security benefits
  • Fully and partially taxable IRA distributions, pensions, and annuities
  • Tier 1 and tier 2 railroad retirement payments
  • California Lottery winnings

If your California Pension & Annuity deductions for California are different than your federal deductions, see Pension and Annuity Guidelines (Pub. 1005) before beginning CalFile.

Nontaxable interest and ordinary dividends:

  • The amount of California tax-exempt income is less than the amount exempt from federal taxes

Fully and partially taxable IRA distributions, pensions, and annuities:

  • Required to report additional tax on an early distribution from a qualified retirement plan
  • Have Roth IRA or Coverdell ESA conversions or distributions
  • Need to restate your California IRA basis
  • Received a lump-sum distribution from a profit sharing or retirement plan and chose the 10-year averaging method

Income earned by tribal members who live in Indian country affiliated with their tribe and receive earnings from the same tribal source of which they are members. Get Enrolled Tribal Member Certification (FTB 3504) for more information.

Deductions

Qualify Do not qualify
  • Claim the Standard deduction
  • Itemize your deductions

Any of the following federal itemized deductions:

  • College Access Credit
  • Adoption Related Expenses
  • Mortgage Income Credit (federal Form 8396)
  • Nontaxable Income Expenses related to producing income taxed under federal law but not taxed by California
  • Investment Interest Expense Deduction (federal Form 4952 and FTB 3526)
  • Federal Estate Tax
  • Generation Skipping Transfer Tax
  • State Legislator's Travel Expenses
  • Charitable Contributions exceeding 50% of federal AGI
  • Charitable Contribution Carryover Deduction
  • Health Savings Account (HSA) Distributions
  • Carryover Deduction of Appreciated Stock Contributed to a Private Foundation prior to January 1, 2002
  • Interest on Loans from Utility Companies
  • Claim of Right
  • Certain Disaster Losses
  • Personal Casualty and Theft Losses
  • Mortgage interest deduction acquisition debt

Payments

Qualify Do not qualify
  • Withholding on Form(s) W-2, W-2G, and 1099-R
  • Estimated tax payments
  • Extension payments
  • Excess State Disability Insurance (SDI) or Voluntary Plan Disability Insurance (VPDI)
  • 2017 refund applied to 2018
  • California withholding reported on a 1099-MISC
  • You and your spouse/RDP paid joint estimated tax, but are now filing separate tax returns

Exemptions and credits

Qualify Do not qualify
  • Personal, Senior, Blind, or Dependent exemption credit
  • Nonrefundable renter's credit
  • Nonrefundable child and dependent care expenses credit
  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

Note: You may include business income or loss for EITC purposes only. You must upload a PDF copy of your federal tax return when submitting your California tax return.

  • New home or first-time buyer credits
  • You received dependent care benefits from an employer or need to claim credit for prior year expenses
  • You need to file a Schedule S (Other State Tax Credit)

You are eligible for Special Credits:

  • Joint Custody Head of Household
  • Dependent Parent
  • Senior Head of Household
  • Child Adoption Costs
  • You have a foreign business address when claiming EITC