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2016 Which Form Should I File?

Before you decide, check out your online filing options. Filing online gets you the fastest refund and reduces errors.

Full Year Residents

Use Form 540 2EZ if:

  • Your filing status is single, married/RDP filing jointly, head of household, or qualifying widow(er).
  • You have 0-3 dependents.
  • Your taxable income is:
    • $100,000 or less (single or head of household).
    • $200,000 or less (married/RDP filing jointly or qualifying widow(er)).
  • Your income is from:
    • Wages, salaries, and tips.
    • Taxable interest, dividends, and pensions.
    • Capital gains from mutual funds (on Form 1099-DIV, Box 2a).
    • Taxable scholarship and fellowship grants (only if reported on Form W-2).
    • Unemployment.
    • Paid Family Leave Insurance.
    • U.S. Social Security.
    • Tier 1 and tier 2 railroad retirement payments.
  • No adjustments to total income.
  • You only use standard deduction.
  • Your payments are only California income tax withheld shown on Form(s) W-2 and 1099-R.
  • Your exemptions are:
    • Personal exemption
    • Senior exemption
    • Up to three dependent exemptions
  • Your only credits are the nonrefundable renter’s credit and refundable California earned income tax credit.

Note: You cannot use Form 540 2EZ if you or your spouse can be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer and:

  • You have a dependent of your own.
  • You are single and your total income is less than or equal to $13,394.
  • You are married/RDP filing jointly or qualified widow(er) and your total income is less than or equal to $26,838.
  • You are head of household and your total income is less than or equal to $19,038.
  • You are required to use the modified standard deduction for dependents.

Otherwise, use the Form 540.

Nonresidents or Part-Year Residents

Use Short Form 540NR if:

  • Your filing status is single, married/RDP filing jointly, head of household, or qualifying widow(er).
  • You have 0-5 dependents.
  • Your total income is $100,000 or less.
  • Your income is from:
    • Wages, salaries, and tips.
    • Taxable interest.
    • Unemployment compensation.
    • Paid Family Leave Insurance.
  • Your California adjustments to income are:
    • Unemployment compensation.
    • Paid Family Leave Insurance.
    • Military pay adjustment (R&TC Section 17140.5).
  • You only use standard deduction.
  • Your payments are only California income tax withheld shown on Form(s) W-2 and 1099.
  • Your exemptions are:
    • California earned income tax credit.
    • Personal exemption credits.
    • Blind exemption credits.
    • Up to five dependent exemption credits.
    • Nonrefundable renter’s credit.

Otherwise, use Long Form 540NR.

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