The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) kicked off the 2024 tax filing season by providing taxpayers with important information on cash-back tax credits, disaster loss relief, and the advantages of filing electronically. Taxpayers must pay any taxes owed by April 15 to avoid penalties. The FTB started accepting state tax returns this month. Last year, California had an unusually long filing season due to the state’s record-breaking winter storms.
The FTB recommends taxpayers gather their tax records ahead of time to help facilitate a smoother tax filing process. Californians are encouraged to take advantage of the FTB’s online services, including filing their taxes electronically and choosing direct deposit to a bank account for a quicker refund.
Improve your tax filing experience this season with these tips and reminders:
Avoid Phone Delays and Find Your Answers Online
We recommend taxpayers use our online self-service options to avoid potentially long delays when contacting FTB by phone. These resources are available 24/7. Last year, millions of taxpayers visited our website. Taxpayers can benefit from the following self-service options: check your refund status, make a payment, should you file?, what form should you file? and view our processing and wait times.
In 2023, Web Pay received almost 2.5 million visits, and our Check Your Refund application had over 5.4 million requests. We hope these resources will help more Californians get the information needed quickly and easily.
One-Time Penalty Abatement Relief
For tax year 2022 forward, taxpayers may be eligible for a one-time penalty abatement. Taxpayers must comply with all tax return requirements, have not previously been granted abatement, and have no outstanding tax liabilities to request this penalty relief. FTB started accepting one-time penalty abatement requests last year. For more information, visit ftb.ca.gov.
E-file for Faster Refunds with Direct Deposit and use CalFile for FREE!
CalFile allows most Californians to e-file their state tax returns with FTB quickly, easily, and for free, with real-time confirmation that we received them. CalFile is a safe and secure way to file taxes and ensures the fastest refund. Head to FTB’s CalFile page to e-file today! Visit www.ftb.ca.gov/calfile for more details.
California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC), Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC) expansion, and the new Foster Youth Tax Credit (FYTC)
Are you aware of the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC), the Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC), and the Foster Youth Tax Credit (FYTC)? These credits, which can provide cash-back or lower any tax you might owe, are available to Californians with incomes up to $30,950 for CalEITC and up to $30,931 for YCTC and FYTC. CalEITC can be worth up to $3,529, while YCTC and FYTC can be up to $1,117. Individuals earning less than $63,398 may also qualify for the federal EITC. Your family could receive up to $12,076 from CalEITC, YCTC, and the federal EITC.
You can claim CalEITC, YCTC, and FYTC by filing a state tax return, and make sure to file a federal return with the Internal Revenue Service to get the federal EITC. To take advantage of these valuable credits and learn more, visit www.ftb.ca.gov/caleitc.
Tax Relief for Disasters
Taxpayers affected by a disaster declared by the President can claim a deduction for disaster loss. They can make this claim when filing an original or amended tax return. Free copies of tax returns are available to disaster victims whose returns were lost or damaged. To receive free copies, use Form FTB 3516 and write the name of the disaster in blue or black ink at the top of the request. To view a complete list of all disasters declared in California, please refer to the chart on FTB’s disaster loss webpage.
Free Tax Help and FTB Services
Taxpayers in California can get free help with their taxes through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. To find a list of VITA program locations, visit ftb.ca.gov and search for “free tax help.” Additionally, taxpayers can use MyFTB’s service to view their tax documents, check balances due, send secure messages to FTB staff, and more.
Please remember to gather all your tax documents for the year 2023 and keep them together in a safe place. This will help you prepare your tax records before you file your taxes and avoid any errors that could cause delays in processing. By doing so, you will be in the best position to file an accurate tax return. When filing a tax return it is essential to ensure the correct, most up-to-date contact information, such as address and phone number, are listed on your return. Having your bank account information up-to-date is crucial to avoid any unwanted complications with your direct deposit. Do not let incorrect details delay your refund – take the time to verify this information before submitting your return.
Taxpayers should be aware of scams and take measures to protect themselves. Scammers often impersonate IRS or FTB employees and try to trick taxpayers into sending money or providing personal information. Scammers use personal information to file fraudulent returns and steal refunds. If you receive a suspicious letter from FTB or the IRS, you can contact FTB at 800.852.5711 or the IRS at 800.829.1040. Concerned taxpayers can also check the FTB Letters page or Understanding Your IRS Notice or Letter for more information.