Claim for refund

Overview

A claim for refund is a request for reimbursement of amounts previously paid. Generally, if you have paid your balance in full you will file a formal claim. If you have not paid your balance in full, you will file an informal claim.

We accept claims for refunds through:

To be valid, your claim must be:

  • In writing
  • Signed by you or your authorized representative
  • Include the specific reason for your claim
  • Filed within the statute of limitations (SOL)

A claim for refund will not automatically stop collection action and cannot be filed if your business is suspended or forfeited

Businesses

If your business is suspended or forfeited, we will disallow your claim for refund. (R&TC 23301 and R&TC 23304.1(d))

Statute of limitations

SOL is a time limit imposed by law on the right of taxpayers to file a claim for refund.

Generally, you must file your claim for refund by the later of:

  • 1 year from the date of overpayment
  • 4 years after the original return due date.
    • If you filed before the due date, you have 4 years from the original return due date to file a claim.
    • If you filed after the extension, the return is late. You have 4 years from the original return due date to file a claim.
    • If you made payments and never filed a tax return, you have 4 years from the original return due date to file a claim.
  • 4 years after the date of a timely filed return, if filed within the extension period.

Example:

If you filed your return between the original return due date and the extended due date:

  • It’s considered timely
  • You have 4 years from the date you filed your return to file your claim

You have federal adjustments

Generally, you have 2 years from the date the IRS makes a change to file your claim.

Example:

  • The IRS makes an adjustment to your 2013 return on 01/01/2020
  • You would have until 01/01/2022 (2 years) to file your claim for that adjustment

What to include

For all claims, include:

  • Name
  • Social security number or identification number.
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Tax year
  • Reason for filing a claim
  • Any supporting documentation

Types of claims

Formal claim

If you’ve paid your balance in full, you can file a formal claim for refund to:

  • Reduce the amount of tax you paid.
  • Disagree with an assessment of:
    • Tax
    • Penalties
    • Interest

Informal claim

You may file an informal claim for refund even though you have not paid the full amount of:

  • Tax
  • Penalties
  • Interest

An informal claim will:

  • Delay the expiration of the statute of limitations until full payment is made
  • Protect your right to appeal
  • Protect your right to file suit in court

We’ll process the informal claim as a formal claim when the full amount due has been paid.

Before you mail your claim:

  • Individuals: Check the informal claim box on your amended return
  • Businesses: Write “informal claim” across the top of your amended return

Visit FTB Notice 2003-5 for more information.

Mail
Individuals, estates and trusts or group nonresident returns
Franchise Tax Board
PO Box 942840
Sacramento CA 94240-0040
Businesses (includes exempt organizations and non-profits)
Franchise Tax Board
PO Box 942857
Sacramento CA 94257-4040

Reasonable cause

We may cancel certain penalties if reasonable cause exists. Reasonable cause means that the act occurred despite the exercise of ordinary business care and prudence.

Provide us a written statement with supporting documents listing the facts to support your claim.

Use one of the following forms to file a reasonable cause claim for refund:

Mail
Individuals, estates and trusts or group nonresident returns
Franchise Tax Board
PO Box 942840
Sacramento CA 94240-0040
Businesses (includes exempt organizations and non-profits)
Franchise Tax Board
PO Box 942857
Sacramento CA 94257-4040
Online
Log in to MyFTB
  • Upload your Reasonable Cause form
  • Write your letter through a MyFTB message

Protective claim

You can file a claim for refund for a tax year where unresolved tax matters are pending. This is a protective claim and is done to preserve your statute of limitations when you’re expecting a refund.

Unresolved tax matters can include:

  • An appeal to the Office of Tax Appeals
  • A court case
  • An audit by the IRS
  • An audit by another state taxing agency
  • Other litigation

Individuals: Check the protective claim box on your amended return.

Businesses: Write “protective claim” across the top of your amended return.

You may also send us a letter. Write “protective claim” across the top.p

Include the following:

  • Specific information about the pending case
  • Specific information about the issue involved
  • Amount of the claim. Protective claims are usually for $1 or more

Mail your claim

Other correspondence

Amended returns are listed as other correspondence and general other correspondence (if you’re writing a letter) on our mailing website:

Mail
Individuals, estates and trusts or group nonresident returns
Franchise Tax Board
PO Box 942840
Sacramento CA 94240-0040
Businesses (includes exempt organizations and non-profits)
Franchise Tax Board
PO Box 942857
Sacramento CA 94257-4040

Amended without payment

Amended returns with refund, zero balance or balance due without payment:

Mail
Individuals, estates and trusts or group nonresident returns
Franchise Tax Board
PO Box 942840
Sacramento CA 94240-0001
Businesses (includes exempt organizations and non-profits)
Franchise Tax Board
PO Box 942857
Sacramento CA 94257-0500

If you already filed a claim

If you already filed a formal claim for refund, you may receive a letter from us approving or denying your claim. If you have not received a letter, and it has been more than 6 months, your claim for refund is deemed denied.

If your claim for refund is denied, you can now file:

Visit Personal Income Tax Denial of Claim for a Refund Information (FTB 1084) for more information.

Visit Business Entities – Denial of a Claim for Refund Information (FTB 1087) for more information.