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Claim for Refund

A claim for refund is a request for reimbursement of taxes paid in previous years.

To be valid, a claim for refund must:

  • Be in writing.
  • Be signed by the taxpayer or their authorized representative.
  • Include the specific reason for the claim.
  • Be filed within the statute of limitations. (See exceptions.)

Important: A claim for refund:

  • Will not automatically stop collection action.
  • Cannot be filed by a corporation or limited liability company that is suspended or forfeited. Call us at 888.635.0494 to begin the revivor process.

To prevent processing delay, please include all supporting documentation, if applicable and available.

Flow Chart of Claim for Refund Process

Types of claims

General (formal)

A taxpayer can file a claim for refund when they:

  • File an amended return requesting an amount previously paid to be refunded by reducing the tax liability on their original return.
  • Disagree with an assessment of tax, penalties, or interest, but pay the additional tax, penalties, or interest, and request that the amount paid be refunded.

A formal claim for refund may be in the form of an amended return or a letter.

Informal

A taxpayer may file a claim even though they have not paid the full amount of tax, penalties, and interest. We will accept it as an informal claim for refund. The informal claim will delay the expiration of the statute of limitations and protect the taxpayer’s right to appeal to the Office of Tax Appeals (OTA) or file suit in court. The informal claim becomes a general (formal) claim for refund and we will process the claim when the full amount due has been paid. For more information see FTB Notice 2003-5.

Write Informal Claim in red across the top of the amended return or letter.

Reasonable cause

A taxpayer may file a claim for refund requesting abatement of a penalty for reasonable cause. Reasonable cause may be established if a taxpayer can show that their failure to comply with the law occurred despite the exercise of ordinary business care and prudence. See FTB Publication 1024, Penalty Reference Chart, to determine which penalties have reasonable cause provisions. For more information go to our search box and search for reasonable cause.

Important: California does not conform to federal relief based on good filing history or First-Time Abate (FTA). However, we may abate the penalty if the taxpayer can provide documentation which clearly states that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) abated the same penalty for reasonable cause.

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

  • FTB 2917, Reasonable Cause – Individual and Fiduciary Claim for Refund
  • FTB 2924, Reasonable Cause – Business Entity Claim for Refund

Protective

A taxpayer may file a protective claim with us to delay any action on the claim while an audit determination or litigation is still pending. The taxpayer may file a protective claim pending the outcome of:

  • 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.

A protective claim for refund may be in the form of amended return or a letter.

  • Write Protective Claim in red across the top of the amended return or letter.
  • 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.

Specific issue protective claims

We may need additional information or want protective claims for specific issues to be sent to a special address. Check FTB Notices for detailed information about how to file these protective claims.

Mailing addresses

Informal claims

STATE OF CALIFORNIA
INFORMAL CLAIMS UNIT MS F283
FRANCHISE TAX BOARD
PO BOX 1468
SACRAMENTO, CA 95812-1468

General, reasonable cause, and protective claims

Individuals and fiduciaries

FRANCHISE TAX BOARD
PO BOX 942840
SACRAMENTO, CA 94240-0040

Business entities

FRANCHISE TAX BOARD
PO BOX 942857
SACRAMENTO CA 94257-4040

Form 592, Resident and Nonresident Withholding Statement and Form 593, Real Estate Withholding Tax Statement Claims:

Withholding Services and Compliance Section
FRANCHISE TAX BOARD
PO BOX 942867
SACRAMENTO CA 94267-0651

Statute of limitations (SOL)

General SOL rule

In general, a taxpayer can file a claim for refund the later of:

  • Four years after the original return due date.
  • Four years after the date of a timely filed return.
  • One year from the date of overpayment.

Exceptions

The following SOLs are common exceptions to the general SOL rule:

  • Federal waiver :The SOL is the later of six months from the expiration of the federal waiver or the general SOL.
  • State waiver:The SOL is the later of the general SOL or the expiration date of the waiver.
  • Action by IRS:The SOL is the later of two years from the date of the final federal determination or the general SOL. For more information, see FTB Publication 1008, Federal Tax Adjustments and Your Notification Responsibilities to California.
  • Military:See FTB Publication 1032, Tax information for Military Personnel – Section K

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