California State Tax Filing Season Is Officially Open – Part III

The Franchise Tax Board (FTB) announced it is now accepting 2013 state tax returns. Also, the FTB provides the following updates on law changes and filing services brought to you in this blog series – Part III.

Filing Information

Free Do-it-Yourself Services – FTB encourages taxpayers and practitioners to explore its many self-service applications available through FTB’s website:

• CalFile makes filing easier – CalFile is one of FTB’s free, easy-to-use e-file options available to more than 6.4 million taxpayers. CalFile accepts taxpayers with income of up to $345,235, itemized deductions, and some tax credits.

CalFile guides taxpayers through a simple question and answer process. It takes about 15-30 minutes to complete. CalFile offers convenient features to make it easier to use including: getting an email confirmation verifying the return was filed, and having the ability to save information and come back later to finish the return. Taxpayers can also file the current year 2013 tax year return as well as the previous year, 2012.

Visit FTB’s website at to access CalFile.

• Free online filing in minutes – FTB’s other free e-file program; ReadyReturn is for taxpayers who file simple returns. FTB uses information it already has to complete a ReadyReturn for selected taxpayers. Taxpayers who used the single or head of household filing status in the prior year, had one employer, claimed no more than five dependents, and took the standard deduction qualify for ReadyReturn.Taxpayers can visit FTB’s website to see if a ReadyReturn is completed and waiting for them.

• MyFTB Account – Use this service to change a mailing address and get information about: wages, California withholding, estimated tax payments, balances due, or FTB-issued 1099 forms. Taxpayers and tax professionals must complete a one-time registration process.

• Estimated tax payment schedule – For taxpayers who need to make quarterly estimate payments, the California schedule differs from federal. To avoid an estimate penalty, taxpayers must pay:

• First quarter (April 15) 30 percent

• Second quarter (June 15) 40 percent

• Third quarter (September 15) 0 percent

• Fourth quarter (January 15) 30 percent

• Check Your Refund Status – After filing their 2013 tax return, taxpayers can use this service to see where their refund is. Generally, e-filed returns with refunds and requests for direct deposit are issued within 7-10 days and mailed refund checks are sent within two weeks. Paper-filed returns take longer, up to 6-8 weeks depending on the time of year the return is filed. This service is also available in Spanish.

• Pay Taxes Online – For taxpayers who owe, try Web Pay to pay a tax return balance due or make an extension or estimate payment. Taxpayers can schedule estimated tax payments for the year, sign up for free email reminders, save their bank account number for future use, and much more. For a fee, taxpayers can pay their taxes with their American Express, Discover/NOVUS, MasterCard, and Visa cards.

• Request a Monthly Payment Plan – FTB offers monthly installment payment plans to taxpayers experiencing a financial hardship. Taxpayers who owe $25,000 or less and can repay their balance owed within five years generally qualify. For qualifications and to sign up, go to and select installment agreement. Taxpayers can also apply by phone using our Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system at 800.689.4776.

• Get Answers to Frequently Asked Questions – Find answers to questions about various tax topics such as return filing requirements, tax credits, and the eligibility requirements for the Head of Household filing status online at

• Try Live Chat- Live Chat lets taxpayers ask an FTB representative general tax questions and get help with FTB’s website.

• Phone Service – FTB provides automated toll-free phone service at 800.338.0505. To speak with a customer service representative, FTB staffs its general toll-free phone line, 800.852.5711, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekdays excluding state holidays.

• Field Offices – FTB has six regional field offices that provide walk-in service from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekdays in Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, and Santa Ana. For directions, go to and click on the Contact Us tab.

• Services Available in Spanish – FTB offers many services in Spanish including forms, publications, refund status, and answers to frequently asked questions.

Source: FTB Public Affairs Office

In accordance with Circular 230 Disclosure

Betty Williams has a broad range of experience handling civil and criminal tax controversy matters including income tax, employment tax, sales and use tax, property tax and IRS, FTB, and SBE audits, protests, and appeals. She has represented clients before the U.S. Tax Court and the U.S. District Courts in California. Betty has obtained penalty abatement for numerous clients ranging from a few thousand to more than $2 million in late filing and late payment penalties. She has assisted numerous clients in the United States and abroad in the 2009, 2011 and 2012 IRS and FTB voluntary disclosure initiatives. She also represents foreign financial institutions regarding Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) compliance. She has experience defending criminal tax matters and negotiating plea agreements in areas such as structuring, tax evasion, and the failure to file a tax return.

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1 comment on “California State Tax Filing Season Is Officially Open – Part III”

  • Thanks Betty! The information shared in this post is really helpful to me as a tax payee. Keep sharing the information which is regarding the tax payment in the upcoming posts also.

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