The Franchise Tax Board (FTB) is now accepting 2018 state tax returns. FTB encourages taxpayers to discuss individual tax situations with a professional tax preparer to help understand the impacts of federal tax law changes and relief after natural disasters.

Free filing help is available for many taxpayers with limited incomes, and is often available on military bases for service members. For a list of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program locations throughout California, go to ftb.ca.gov and click on free filing assistance.

FTB also reminds taxpayers that unless a tax preparer is an attorney, CPA, or enrolled agent, the person must register with the California Tax Education Council (CTEC) in accordance with state law.

Expanded State Cash-Back Credit

This year, California’s expanded Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) is estimated to be available to as many as three million families.

CalEITC is now available to those age 18 and over as long as they meet income limits and other requirements. Families earning $24,950 or less may be eligible for the credit if they have qualifying children. People earning $16,750 or less may be eligible if they do not have children.

CalEITC is refundable, meaning that taxpayers will receive cash back if the credit is greater than taxes owed. A family could receive hundreds or even thousands of dollars back between CalEITC and the companion federal EITC.

More details about CalEITC and the federal EITC are available at CalEITC4me.org.

FTB services

The MyFTB service allows taxpayers to view their tax documents, check balances due, access tax calculators, send secure messages to FTB staff, and more.

FTB offers free electronic filing for state tax returns through CalFile, an easy-to-use tool available to more than 6.4 million taxpayers including CalEITC-eligible, self-employed individuals. CalFile allows taxpayers to file directly with FTB and provides instant confirmation. Taxpayers can find a list of other filing options at ftb.ca.gov.

Taxpayers can make payments using a debit card, check, cashier’s check, or money order. Payments are also accepted by MasterCard, Visa, American Express or Discover for a service fee of 2.3 percent.