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Tax News Ask the Advocate

Steve Sims, Taxpayers' Rights Advocate.

Taxpayers’ Concerns after Filing Their Tax Returns

As the end of filing season approaches, taxpayers contact us with questions or concerns they have after filing their tax return. Here is some information that can help you answer those questions or concerns too.

You filed a paper return for your clients and they forgot to sign the return.
We attempt to process the return with the information available to us. If we are unable to complete processing, which can take up to eight weeks, we will request additional information.

Your client receives a W-2 after filling their return. If your client receives a Form W-2 after filing the tax return, and completed form FTB 3525, Substitute Withholding Statement while filing tax return. Then, if the information differs from the information reported on the tax return, or the W-2 income was not previously reported, your client will need to amend the tax return by filing Form 540X, Amended Individual Income Tax Return.

When can my client expect their refund?
e-file - Refunds from e-file returns are usually issued within seven to ten business days from the date the return is accepted. Your client can also request to have the refund directly deposited into a bank account usually within five to seven business days.

Paper returns - Direct deposit of refunds for paper returns are deposited in six to eight weeks about the same time it takes to issue a paper warrant.

How can my client check their refund status?
Your client can check the status of their current year refunds online or calling 800.852.5711. This service is also available in Spanish.

Your client lost their refund check.
Your client can call 800.852.5711 and we will put a trace on the refund check.

Does a refund check expire?
Yes. A refund check, also known as a refund warrant is valid for one year from the issue date.
The warrant is considered out dated after these periods have elapsed. An out dated warrant is not negotiable, but the taxpayer may request a replacement check.

My client sent the check without the payment voucher.
We will cross reference and accept the check, but if this is the first time the taxpayer is filing the tax return, we might need to contact the taxpayer.

My client cannot pay what is owed on the tax return.
If your client is unable to pay the tax owed in full, the taxpayer can make a request for monthly payments. However, interest accrues and an underpayment penalty may be charged on the tax not paid by April 15, 2011, even if the request for monthly payments is approved. To make monthly payments, complete form FTB 3567, Installment Agreement Request, online or mail it to the address on the form.

My client has an underpayment penalty, but did not know how to calculate the amount. The penalty is five percent of the unpaid tax plus 0.5 percent for each month or part of a month that the tax remains unpaid not to exceed 40 months. The maximum penalty is 25 percent of the unpaid tax. The penalty is imposed regardless of an extension of time to file.

My client is due a refund for this year, but has a balance due from a prior year or a nontax debt being collected by FTB; will my client get the refund?
No. All refunds are subject to intercept. Refunds from joint returns may be applied to the debts of either the taxpayer or spouse.

My client is currently on an installment agreement (IA) for taxes due from a prior year and owes again for 2010. What will happen with the IA? Can my client get a second IA?
No. If the additional liability causes the current installment agreement to drop out of criteria, they will receive an intent-to-cancel notice. The taxpayer has 45 days to call us to modify the installment agreement, or the installment agreement will automatically cancel.

Steve Sims, EA
Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate

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