Individual e-file Program General Information for Tax Preparers
Participating in the California Individual e-file Program has many benefits for you and your clients. Here are some highlights:
- Proof of receipt - We provide acknowledgement that we have accepted a return or stand-alone Electronic Funds Withdrawal (EFW) for further processing.
- Opportunity to correct errors - Our system performs up-front edits on all incoming e-file returns and stand-alone EFW payments. We let you know if we detect any errors, what those errors are, and allow you time to make any corrections. This step reduces subsequent notices to your clients.
- Accurate returns - Because most errors can be resolved before we accept the return for processing, less than one percent of e-file returns require special error handling.
- Safe - We use the latest technologies to ensure the security and privacy of all taxpayer information. We receive all returns and stand-alone EFW payments via secure Internet transmission that uses 128-bit Secure Socket Layer encryption–the industry standard.
- Year-round return filing - the Individual e-file system is available year-round. We allow individual taxpayers to e-file returns for taxable years 2016-2018.
The e-file process
The process for preparing and submitting an e-file return is very similar to the paper return process:
- Prepare your client's tax return or stand-alone EFW payment as you normally would.
- Provide your client with a copy of their return and a California e-file Return Authorization for Individuals form (FTB 8453), California Payment for Automatic Extension and Estimate Payment Authorization for Individuals form (FTB 8453 (PMT)), California e-file Signature Authorization for Individuals form (FTB 8879), or a California Electronic Funds Withdrawal Payment Signature Authorization for Individuals and Fiduciaries form (FTB 8879 (PMT)). Your client must sign and return the forms FTB 8453, FTB 8453 (PMT), FTB 8879, or FTB 8879 (PMT) to you before you transmit their return. A faxed copy is acceptable. To learn more about our electronic signature options, visit our e-Signature Options for Individual e-file page.
- Transmit the returns or stand-alone EFW payments to the IRS and FTB.
- Retrieve your acknowledgement (ACK) file that tells you if we have accepted the return or stand-alone EFW payment for further processing or if we have found an error.
- Correct any errors and retransmit the return to us. The return is not considered filed until we issue an accepted ACK.
- Record the date we accepted the return or stand-alone EFW payment on the corresponding form FTB 8453, FTB 8453 (PMT), FTB 8879, or FTB 8879 (PMT).
- Retain a copy of form FTB 8453, FTB 8453 (PMT), FTB 8879, or FTB 8879 (PMT) for four years from the return due date or for four years from the filing date, whichever is later.
For tips about incorporating e-file in your office, check out our e-file tutorial.
For the complete e-file process rules, refer to the Handbook for Authorized e-file Providers (FTB Pub. 1345).
Acknowledgement (ACK) files and error resolution
ACK files are available 24 - 48 hours after you transmit your return or stand-alone EFW payment to us. Generally your software will instruct you how to obtain your ACK files.
If you are missing a batch of ACK files, contact your transmitter for assistance. If you transmit directly to us, please contact our e-Programs Customer Service.
If we find an error in the initial processing of a return or stand-alone EFW payment, we will reject the return and provide you information in the ACK file, including the error, form or schedule impacted, and occurrence number for multi-page forms and schedules.
If you are unable to resolve the error, please contact your software provider for assistance.
Review our list of top errors to avoid common mistakes.
California tax law requires individual income tax returns prepared by certain income tax preparers to be electronically filed. To find out more, please visit our Mandatory Individual e-file Information Center.
If you develop your own software or transmit returns and/or stand-alone EFW payments directly to us, please review our e-file Program Information for Software Developers and Transmitters.
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Last Updated: 12.19.2018