Filing Taxes in California – Get Your CA Tax Refund Faster

A California resident's filling status (single, married, etc), the number of their claimed dependents, age (under/over 65) and annual income are all used to determine the minimum income required to file a California tax return and how much the taxpayer will have to pay. While minimum tax may depend on a host of variables, the maximum individual tax rate recently is 12.3%; while the alternative minimum tax (AMT) is 7%. Individuals who make over $1,000,000 must also pay a mental health services fee of 1%.

The form 540 is the standard form used for individual income tax returns in California. As with federal returns, all individual returns are due by April 15. If that date falls on a holiday or weekend, payments are due the next business day. A form 540X is what is required to file an amendment (you can check on the status of an amendment by calling 800-852-5711)

Where to Send a California Tax Return:

If you're owed a CA tax refund, don't owe money or have already made your payment online, your tax return can be mailed to the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) at:

P.O. Box 942840

Sacramento, CA 94240-0001

If you owe CA taxes, the return and check/money order should be sent to FTB at: 

P.O. Box 942867

Sacramento, CA 94267-0001

Estimated tax payments for the year are due quarterly and you can pay on online at or send payments to the FTB at:

P.O. Box 942867

Sacramento, CA 94267-0001

Check the Status of a Return

You can check the status of your return or amendment by visiting the FTB website and navigating to the "Where's My Return?" tool. To find the status of your CA tax refund, you'll need to enter your social security number, mailing address and the refund amount shown on your tax form.

Failing to Pay Your California Taxes & Extensions

If you fail to pay your California taxes, you'll owe a 5% monthly penalty on the amount due until you pay in full. If you underpay your taxes, you'll owe a penalty of up to 5% of the unpaid tax and an additional half of a percent of that amount every month until paid in full.

In January of each year, the FTB activates the system on its website for those who wish to file online. Taxpayers can get an automatic extension of six months to file taxes if they don't owe any money or are expected to receive a refund. Individuals who owe taxes can request an extension until October 15, but they should pay the estimated amount of tax that they owe by April 15 in order to avoid penalties.

Out of State Employment

Residents living in northern California and working in Oregon may also be responsible for filing California taxes with that state. The same is true for residents of SoCal working in Arizona. However, this does not apply to residents working in Nevada, as this state does not currently collect income tax.

Note: States & U.S. territories may make changes to their tax laws with little notice. We do our best to keep this information up-to-date, but it is provided on an "AS IS" basis. For more see our terms.