5 Things to Know This Tax Season
Tips from the State of California Franchise Tax Board

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Tax season is here, but there’s no need to panic. Plenty of help is available to help you get your returns filed on time. 

Here are five key things to know:

The deadline: Tax Day is Wednesday, July 15, 2020.
To avoid any interest or penalties, be sure to file your state and federal returns by this date if you owe taxes. Many tax documents, including W-2s, should arrive in your mail by late January or early February. Gather any receipts or documents and put them in a safe place until you file. If documents don’t arrive soon, contact the organization or department that issued the information to ask for another copy. If you moved in 2019, make sure those who send you such documents each year have your new address.

Get help: Yes, taxes are complicated. But there is plenty of help available to get your returns done.

If you made less than $60,000 in 2019, you can get your returns filed for free at United Way’s Free Tax Prep 40+ locations throughout the Sacramento region and  even more throughout the state through Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA). Trustworthy, IRS-certified volunteers will fill out your returns on the spot, often within an hour. If you live in the Sacramento area, call 2-1-1 for an appointment. If you live outside the Sacramento area, visit CalEITC4Me.org or ftb.ca.gov/caleitc to find a location in your community.

Go digital: Are you still filing your returns on your own on paper?
If so, consider filing electronically. This will help ensure that your returns are processed more quickly and any refund you have coming will likely be delivered faster. To file your federal return for free on your own, check out the Internal Revenue Service’s Free File Program. In addition, Franchise Tax Board offers free electronic filing for state tax returns through CalFile, an easy-to-use tool available to more than 6.5 million taxpayers. FTB also offers MyFTB, which allows taxpayers to view their tax documents, check balances due, access tax calculators, send secure messages to FTB staff and more.  

Valuable tax credits: The expanded California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC), the new Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC) and the federal Earned Income Tax Credit can combine to put hundreds or even thousands of extra dollars in the pockets of working, low-income families. If you earned $30,000 or less in 2019, you may be eligible for CalEITC. If you qualify for CalEITC and have a child under the age of 6, you could get up to $1,000 in YCTC. And if your income was less than $55,952, you may be eligible for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit. To claim these credits, you need to file state and federal returns. For info, visit CalEITC4Me.org or ftb.ca.gov/caleitc .

Plan now to have health coverage: Beginning January 1, 2020, a new state law requires Californians to have qualifying health insurance coverage throughout the year.

Those who fail to maintain qualifying coverage are subject to a penalty when they file their tax returns in 2021. Generally speaking, a taxpayer who fails to secure and keep coverage will be subject to a penalty of $695 or more. The penalty for a dependent child is half of what it would be for an adult. The penalty for a married couple without coverage can be $1,390 or more, and the penalty for a family of four with two dependent children could be $2,085 or more. For info about health coverage options and financial help, visit CoveredCA.com. For info about the penalty, visit ftb.ca.gov/healthmandate.