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California e-fileCalifornia Individual e-file Program - Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is e-file and Stand-Alone Electronic Funds Withdrawal (EFW) Payments?
  2. What tax years can I e-file?
  3. If I'm enrolled in, or have applied for, the federal e-file Program, do I need to enroll in the California e-file Program?
  4. What is an ERO?
  5. Who is eligible to become an ERO in the e-file Program?
  6. How does the e-file process work?
  7. What are the benefits of e-filing?
  8. How do my clients sign an e-file return or stand-alone EFW payment?
  9. What are California forms FTB 8453, FTB 8453 (PMT), FTB 8879, and FTB 8879 (PMT)?
  10. How do I register for FTB online services?
  11. How much does commercial e-file software cost?
  12. What do I do if the IRS rejects the federal return and the FTB accepts the California return?
  13. Are there driver license requirements to e-file?
  14. What is the difference in Web Pay vs. Stand-Alone EFW?

 

1. What is e-file and Stand-Alone Electronic Funds Withdrawal (EFW) Payments?

e-file is filing tax returns or scheduling stand-alone Electronic Funds Withdrawal (EFW) payments electronically using a computer, software, and electronic communication. Beginning January 2017, taxpayers and tax practitioners will have the ability to submit a stand-alone EFW request for extension and estimate payments using tax preparation software. These payment requests will be accepted as “stand-alone”, and can be submitted separately from the e-file return. You should contact your software provider to see if they support stand-alone EFW payments.

2. What tax years can I e-file?

We accept e-filed tax returns for tax years 2016, 2015, and 2014 tax returns.

3. If I'm enrolled in, or have applied for, the federal e-file Program, do I need to enroll in the California e-file Program?

No. Separate e-file registration is no longer required for Electronic Return Originators (EROs) to participate in the California e-file Program. Get more information.

4. What is an ERO?

An Electronic Return Originator (ERO) is an authorized e-file provider who initiates the electronic submission of an individual income tax return to the FTB.

5. Who is eligible to become an ERO in the e-file Program?

Generally, any licensed tax professional in good standing with the IRS and FTB may participate in the e-file Program. For more information on participant enrollment requirements see question 3 above.

6. How does the e-file process work?

Once you're an e-file participant and have software that enables e-filing, you will:

For more information, refer to the California e-file Handbook (FTB Pub. 1345). For information about incorporating e-file into your office, check out our e-file tutorial.

7. What are the benefits of e-filing?

Here are just some of the benefits:

Proof of receipt - The number one reason people choose e-filing is the acknowledgement we provide when we have accepted a return or stand-alone EFW payment for further processing.

Accurate returns - The error rate for paper returns is approximately 10 percent, while e-file returns have an error rate of less than 1 percent.

Opportunity to correct errors - Since the e-file program checks returns and stand-alone EFW payment for common error conditions before we process them, you have the opportunity to correct the return or EFW payment and avoid a notice later.

Safe - We use the latest technologies to ensure the security and privacy of all taxpayer information. FTB receives most returns or stand-alone EFW payments via modem transmission, which is least susceptible to interception. Our internet filing portal uses 128-bit Secure Socket Layer encryption, which is the industry standard.

Year-round return filing - the Individual e-file system is available year-round.

8. How do my clients sign an e-file return or stand-alone EFW payment?

California e-file returns can be signed electronically or on paper (FTB 8453) or (FTB 8453 (PMT)). Regardless of the signing method used, the return or stand-alone EFW payment must be signed after the taxpayer has reviewed the return or payment and before you transmit it. Refer to your software for the signature options they support.

9. What are the California forms FTB 8453, FTB 8453 (PMT), FTB 8879, and FTB 8879 (PMT)?

The form FTB 8453 California e-file Return Authorization for Individuals is a signature form which authorizes the transmission of your client's return to us electronically.

The form FTB 8453 (PMT) California Payment for Automatic Extension and Estimate Payment Authorization for Individuals is a signature form which authorizes the transmission of your client's stand-alone EFW payment to us electronically.

The form FTB 8879 California e-file Signature Authorization for Individuals allows you to enter your client's PIN without the need for your client to be present.

The form FTB 8879 (PMT) California Electronic Funds Withdrawal Payment Signature Authorization for Individuals and Fiduciaries allows you to enter your client's PIN without the need for your client to be present.

Unless your client enters his or her PIN on your computer, you must have a signed FTB 8453, FTB 8453 (PMT), FTB 8879, or FTB 8879 (PMT) before you e-file the return or make a stand-alone EFW payment. (You do not need the original form -- a faxed, scanned, or emailed copy is acceptable.) You must retain the signed form(s) for four years from the due date of the return or four years from the date the return or stand-alone EFW payment is filed, whichever is later.

These forms do not serve as proof of filing an electronic return or making a stand-alone EFW payment; the acknowledgement we send containing the date of acceptance for your client's accepted return or payment serves as proof that your client's return or payment has been filed.

Do not mail form FTB 8453, FTB 8453 (PMT), FTB 8879, or FTB 8879 (PMT) to FTB.

10. How do I register for FTB Online Services?

Tax professionals can view their clients' account information after completing a free one-time registration process. For more information visit: Access your Account.

11. How much does commercial e-file software cost?

The price of commercial e-file software varies. FTB does not have information on the pricing of various software. To determine which software package is right for you, contact the Approved California e-file Software Providers for information about their software features and prices.

12. What do I do if the IRS rejects the federal return and the FTB accepts the California return?

Correct and resend only the federal return. Once we accept the California return, you cannot send it again via e-file.

If you need to correct the California return as a result of the federal return correction, you must file an Amended Income Tax Return (Form 540X) on paper.

If the IRS rejected the federal return due to an incorrect social security number (SSN), contact the Tax Practitioner Services Hotline at 916.845.7057 to correct the SSN for the California return.

13. Are there driver license requirements to e-file?

The Franchise Tax Board along with many state revenue agencies, is requesting additional information for electronically filed tax returns. This is an additional effort to combat stolen-identity tax fraud and protect you and your tax refund.

We ask that you provide the requested California driver license or state-issued identification card information when completing your tax return. Providing this information is voluntary. We will not reject your return if you do not provide the requested driver license or state-issued identification information. However, providing this information may help us to process your tax return more quickly.

Go to our Report Identity Theft, Tax Fraud, & Scams webpage for more information.

14. What is the difference in Web Pay vs. Stand-Alone EFW?

Stand-alone EFW is a feature within select tax preparation software that allows you or your tax preparer, to schedule extension and/or estimated payments from your bank account to pay personal income taxes.Web Pay is an online application to make electronic payments from your bank account to pay personal income taxes. For more information, search for Web Pay on our website.

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