Editor's note: The Franchise Tax Board (FTB) contributed the following information.
Monday, April 15 is tax day. The Franchise Tax Board (FTB) offers time and money saving tips taxpayers should keep in mind.
• Free online filing in minutes. FTB has two free e-file programs: ReadyReturn is for 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. ReadyReturn pulls data from wage reports and past tax returns to generate a completed return online. For more complex filing needs, CalFile is the state's other no-cost, easy-to-use e-file option that is available to more than 6.4 million taxpayers.
• Fast refunds through e-file. Use e-file and direct deposit to save time and to get your refund fast - generally within seven to ten days.
• Check your refund online. If you filed and are expecting a refund, use the Check Your Refund Status tool to see where your refund is. This service is also offered in Spanish.
• Pay your taxes online. If you owe, consider using Web Pay to pay your tax return balance due or make an extension or estimate payment. If you make estimated tax payments, be sure to sign up for free automated reminders by email. You can schedule your estimated tax payments up to one year in advance. You can save your bank account number for future use, view scheduled Web Pay requests, and cancel a pending payment request.
• Get help paying your taxes. Payment plans are available for taxpayers who face financial trouble. Those who owe $25,000 or less and can repay the tax within five years generally qualify.
• Watch for errors if filing a paper return. Double check your math, social security number(s), and the tax amount from the tax tables. You can also use the Tax Calculator to figure your 2012 tax by using your filing status and taxable income amount.
• Have a question? Try Live Chat. FTB's Live Chat allows you to ask an FTB representative general personal income tax questions and get help with FTB’s website. Do not include personal information in your live chat conversation such as social security numbers, business identification numbers, and bank account information.
• Access Your Account. Use MyFTB Account to change your address and get information about your wages and withholding, estimated tax payments, and more.
• What to do if you can’t file on time. California taxpayers get an automatic extension until October 15 to file their tax returns, although taxes owed must be paid by Monday, April 15.
• Claim the federal Earned Income Tax Credit. This is a federal incentive for low-income individuals and families. Taxpayers earning less than $50,270 can qualify for a “refundable” credit that can total up to $5,891. “Refundable” means that you do not have to have a tax liability to get a refund check from the federal government. If you think you might qualify, visit the IRS website at irs.gov and search for EITC Assistant. California has no comparable state credit.
• Remember to report use tax. You may owe use tax on purchases you made from out-of-state or Internet sellers. Use tax can be reported on your income tax return instead of filing a use tax return with the State Board of Equalization. New this year, taxpayers can use a “look-up” table to report their use tax obligations on their state return. The estimated amount of use tax due is based on the individual’s adjusted gross income. For more details about use tax, visit the BOE’s website at boe.ca.gov.
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