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

  1. What is e-file?
  2. 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?
  3. What is an ERO?
  4. Who is eligible to become an ERO in the e-file Program?
  5. How does the e-file process work?
  6. What are the benefits of e-filing?
  7. How do my clients sign an e-file return?
  8. What are California forms FTB 8453 and FTB 8879?
  9. How do I register for FTB online services?
  10. How much does commercial e-file software cost?
  11. What do I do if the IRS rejects the federal return and the FTB accepts the California return?

 

1. What is e-file?

e-file is filing tax returns electronically using a computer, software, and electronic communication.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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 2 above.

5. How does the e-file process work?

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

  • Prepare your clients' returns as you normally would.

  • Prior to transmitting their returns, receive approval from your clients via:


  • Transmit their tax returns to the IRS and FTB.

  • Get acknowledgement of the return filings following your software's instructions.

  • Correct and resubmit any rejected returns.

  • Record the date we accepted the returns on the corresponding form FTB 8453, form FTB 8879, or on your copy of the client's return.

  • Retain a copy of the signed FTB 8453 or FTB 8879 and tax return for four years from the due date of the return or four years from the date the return is filed, whichever is later. Note: You may keep electronic copies.

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.

6. 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 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 for common error conditions before we process them, you have the opportunity to correct the return and avoid a notice later.

Safe - We use the latest technologies to ensure the security and privacy of all taxpayer information. We receive most returns via modem transmission, which is least susceptible to interception. Our Internet filing portal uses 128-bit Secure Socket Layer encryption—the industry standard.

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

7. How do my clients sign an e-file return?

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

8. What are the California forms FTB 8453 and FTB 8879?

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

The California e-file Signature Authorization for Individuals (FTB 8879) 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 or FTB 8879 before you e-file the return. (You do not need the original form -- a faxed, scanned, or emailed copy is acceptable.) You must retain the signed form for four years from the due date of the return or four years from the date the return is filed, whichever is later.

These forms do not serve as proof of filing an electronic return—the acknowledgement we send containing the date of acceptance for your client's accepted return serves as proof that your client's return has been filed.

Do not mail form FTB 8453 or FTB 8879 to FTB.

9. 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.

10. 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.

11. 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.