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California e-fileIndividual e-file Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is individual e-file?
  2. How do I e-file?
  3. How do I sign my return?
  4. Is there a fee to e-file?
  5. How will I know that FTB received my return?
  6. Do I have to mail anything to FTB?
  7. What are forms FTB 8453/8453-OL?
  8. What is form FTB 8879?
  9. What is form FTB 8455?
  10. How do I get my refund when I e-file?
  11. How do I pay my tax when I e-file?
  12. What do I do with my forms FTB 8453, FTB 8453-OL, FTB 8879, FTB 8455, W-2, W-2G, and 1099R?
  13. What happens if I make a mistake?
  14. Which forms and schedules can be e-filed?
  1. What is individual e-file?

    Individual e-file allows you to file your return electronically using software. Nearly all taxpayers can e-file their personal income tax return, including those filing nonresident or part-year resident returns.

  2. How do I e-file?

    Ask your tax professional to e-file for you. Thousands are authorized by the FTB to provide e-file services for their clients. You can also find an e-file provider in your area by using our locator service.

    Do it yourself. You can e-file wherever you have Internet access. Here are the options available to you:

  3. How do I sign my return?

    Signing your e-file return is easy. Depending on the software you use you may either sign your return using the traditional pen-on-paper method or you may sign electronically using a self-select PIN process. Your software will guide you through the necessary steps to sign your return.

  4. Is there a fee to e-file?

    We do not charge a fee to e-file. However, your tax professional or the software company you use to e-file your own return may charge a fee. Some software companies offer free services to certain eligible taxpayers. We recommend that you check out the costs and eligibility requirements to find the one that best suits your situation.

  5. How will I know that FTB received my return?

    FTB provides an electronic acknowledgment that shows whether or not your return was received and accepted. You can get this acknowledgment in several ways.

    • If you used a tax professional, they will receive the acknowledgment.
    • If you e-filed your own return, your software will tell you how to get your acknowledgment.
  6. Do I have to mail anything to FTB?

    Generally, no. You keep your completed return with your other tax documents (e.g., Forms W-2, W-2G, 1099-DIV, 1099-INT, and 1099-R).

    However, if you owe money and do not choose one of our electronic payment options, you must mail your payment with a Payment Voucher for Individual e-filed Returns (form FTB 3582).

    Do not mail your California e-file Return Authorization for Individuals (form FTB 8453 or FTB 8453-OL), California e-file Signature Authorization for Individuals (form FTB 8879) or California e-file Payment Record for Individuals (form FTB 8455) to the FTB.

  7. What are forms FTB 8453 / FTB 8453-OL?

    Forms FTB 8453 and FTB 8453-OL are the California e-file Return Authorization for Individuals forms. By signing this, you authorize the transmission of your return to us. You must sign this form before you or your tax professional e-files your return.

    This form has a brief summary of your return information, including the amount of your refund or the amount you owe. It also shows if you chose to have your refund directly deposited into your bank account or if you chose to pay by electronic funds withdrawal.

  8. What is form FTB 8879?

    Form FTB 8879, the California e-file Signature Authorization for Individuals, is used to record and print taxpayer and tax preparer signature information when a return is authorized and signed electronically using our self-select and practitioner PIN methods.

  9. What is form FTB 8455?

    Form FTB 8455, the California e-file Payment Record for Individuals, is used to record and print payment information when a return is signed electronically. Note: This form is optional. Some software companies may report or document payment information on a separate form, record, or summary page.

  10. How do I get my refund when I e-file?

    You can have your refund deposited directly to your account in 7 days or less. Select direct deposit and provide your banking information when direct deposit is offered by your tax professional or by your e-file software. If you do not select direct deposit, you will get a paper check in about 10 days.

  11. How do I pay my tax when I e-file?

    You have the following choices for paying tax:

    Method How it works
    Electronic Funds Withdrawal When you complete your return, choose electronic funds withdrawal to make your 2015 return payment or schedule your 2016 estimated tax payments. You will be prompted to provide your banking information, the amount you want to pay, and the date you want the amount to be withdrawn. We will withdraw that amount on the date you selected.

    If your software provides this option and you choose to use it, the schedule of payments will be displayed on form FTB 8453 or FTB 8453-OL, FTB 8455, or another payment summary form that your software may provide.

    Web Pay - Pay online Complete the Payment Request Form on our Website to have your payment electronically withdrawn from your account. Enter your banking information, the amount you want to pay, and the date you want the amount to be withdrawn. We will withdraw that amount on the date you selected. You can also use Web Pay to make extension, estimated tax, and bill payments.
    Credit card Pay online at www.officialpayments.com or by phone at (800) 2-PAY-TAX using your Discover, MasterCard, Visa, or American Express Card. Official Payments Corp. charges a 2.3% convenience fee for this service.
    Check or money order Complete Payment Voucher for Individual e-filed Returns (form FTB 3582) and attach your payment.

    Make a check or money order payable to the "Franchise Tax Board." Be sure to write your social security number(s) or individual taxpayer identification number(s), "Taxable year 2015" and the form number (540, 540 2EZ, Long 540NR, or Short 540NR) on the check or money order.

    Mail form FTB 3582 and your check or money order to the address printed on the voucher.

    Installment Agreement If you have a financial hardship, you can complete an Installment Agreement Request (form FTB 3567) online to request approval to pay your tax in installments. We will review your request and arrange a payment schedule with you.

    Important! Make sure to pay the amount you owe on or before April 18, 2016, to avoid penalties and interest.

  12. What do I do with my forms FTB 8453, FTB 8453-OL, FTB 8455, W-2, W-2G, and/or 1099-R?
    • Keep these forms with the copy of your tax return for your records.
    • Keep these forms for four years from the due date of the return or for four years from the date you filed, whichever is later.

    Important! Do not mail these forms to FTB.

  13. What happens if I make a mistake?
    If... Then...
    We find the error and reject your e-file return. Correct the error that caused the rejection and any other errors you noticed after transmitting. Then retransmit the corrected return.
    You find an error after we accepted your e-file return. Correct the error by completing an Amended Individual Income Tax Return (Form 540X) and mailing the paper return to us. You cannot e-file the corrected return.
  14. Which forms and schedules can be e-filed?

    We can receive the following forms and schedules by e-file. However, not all software products offer all forms and schedules. Check your e-file software to make sure it offers the forms and schedules you need.

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