There’s still time to file your taxes before Monday’s looming deadline. California’s Franchise Tax Board has some tips to ensure you make it without getting fined.
Although any state taxes owed must be postmarked by April 15, if you need more time to file, Californians are granted an automatic extension to October 15 — and if you aren’t sure how much you might owe, you can check with the FTB’s online tax calculator.
Alternatively, you can use the board’s 3519 form to estimate your balance.
Once you know how much you owe, you can pay through the board’s online Web Pay system, making transfers directly from a bank account for free, or with credit or debit cards with a 2.3 percent service charge.
You’ll need to login or register for an online FTB account, where you can view documents, balances, payment histories and field questions to representatives.
FTB offers a live chat service that can be used to clarify information and get technical help. The live chat is available from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, excluding holidays.
The tax board also recommends using CalFile, a free service available to 6.4 million taxpayers that can be used to file your taxes in about a half hour. Refunds can be received through the system via direct deposit.
Low-to-moderate income taxpayers can take advantage of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program through April 15, which provides free tax preparation help to full-time residents and has special services available for disabled or non-English speakers.
The state’s Tax Counseling for the Elderly program also provides assistance to taxpayers 60 years or older who have limited incomes.
Approximately 1.7 million Californians are eligible for the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit program, CalEITC, which may increase the amount of refunds for low-income taxpayers.
FTB estimates that those earning less than $24,950 anually may qualify for a CalEITC tax credit of $2,879. The IRS also provides a federal Earned Income Tax Credit program that may save taxpayers who earn $54,883 or less per year as much as $6,431.
If you’ve filed and your payment seems daunting, FTB offers payment plans to allow for monthly installments. Eligible taxpayers generally owe less than $25,000 and are able to pay off the balance within five years.
Taxpayers who are already engaged in a payment plan or are under a legal order to withhold are not eligible.
Or, if you’ve already filed your taxes and you know you’ll be getting money back, you can check the status of your refund online. The FTB estimates it will take up to two weeks to process online filings and up to four weeks for paper filings.