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11 Things to Know About California's Tax Day
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11 Things to Know About California's Tax Day

To make sure you’re fully prepared to face the U.S. tax filing deadline, here are a few tips you won’t regret brushing up on.

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5 min read

May 07, 2021

Filing taxes is an undeniably daunting task. But with the California State tax due date coming up, it’s time to stop putting the taxes off and get it over with. To make sure you’re fully prepared to face the U.S. tax filing deadline, here are a few tips you won’t regret brushing up on. So, stop procrastinating and muster up the time and courage to tackle California tax day. Hey, at least you can look forward to spending your tax return.

Everything you need to know about Tax day in California

Whether you file on your own or use a tax professional, you need to know what your obligations are and how your choices affect your bottom line.

1. The U.S. Tax Filing Deadline is Typically on or Just After April 15

Tax Day is the day when individual tax returns are due to be paid to the federal government. The concept of having a U.S. tax filing date was first introduced in the early 20th century, with the ratification of the Sixth Amendment. However, it wasn't until 1955 that the federal tax due date was either on or after April 15.

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2. The California State Tax Due Date This Year is May 17

While April 15 is the common California tax filing date, it can and has been delayed. Similar to last year, complications accompanying the COVID-19 virus caused the delay for the tax filing deadline in California this year. Other events that may allow a date delay are conflicts with public holidays (i.e. Emancipation Day) and natural disasters.

It’s important to note that the May 17 date only applies to individual taxpayers and not estimated tax payments. The California state tax filing date for the latter is still April 15.

Filing taxes can definitely feel daunting, regardless of your income bracket, filing status, or familiarity with current rules and regulations.

3. You Might Still Need to File Taxes if you’re Unemployed

You may be thinking that you’re exempt from filing anything on tax day in California if you’re unemployed. Well, it’s not really that simple. It all comes down to how much you get in unemployment benefits. 

If your income falls above the threshold for your filing status, filing a tax return is a must. The single filer threshold is $12,400 and the joint filer threshold is $24,800. Because unemployment benefits were more significant than usual this year, there’s a higher probability that you passed the threshold.

4. If you Have Low Income and Work, you May Qualify for CalEITC

If you have low income and work, familiarize yourself with the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) requirements and benefits.

You may qualify for CalEITC if:

  • You’re 18 or older, and have low income
  • Have a child who has qualified for CalEITC
  • Have taxable earned income
  • Have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) or a social security number
  • Have lived in California for more than half the year

The amount of reduction or refund is determined by your income and family size. Filing your state tax return by the U.S. tax day is required to qualify for this credit. For more information and to calculate your estimated tax refund, visit caleitc4me.org.

Get into tax season by prepping your important documents and learning basic concepts, including how taxes are assessed and collected.

5. Stimulus Checks are not Taxable at a Federal Level

While some states are taxing the income gained from stimulus checks, this does not apply to California. The first stimulus check was up to $1,200 for eligible adults and $500 for every dependent. As for the second check, it was only up to $600. These do not pass the threshold and are not subject to taxes at the federal level.

6. You Might be Eligible for Free Tax Preparation Assistance

Free tax preparation programs exist to help those who face certain difficulties with filing taxes. And yes, contactless prep assistance is also available.

You’re eligible for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) if you meet any of the following criteria:

  • You make $57,000 or less
  • Are a person with a disability
  • Are over the age of 60
  • Have limited English language proficiency

Depending on what county or city you’re based in, you might also find region-specific free prep assistance such as Free Tax Prep Los Angeles. Help is also offered in a variety of common languages spoken in California such as Korean, Armenian, Spanish, Persian, and more.

If you’re self-employed, there are many deductions you can claim on your tax return—travel expenses and home office deductions.

7. If you have a Child Under the Age of Six, you Qualify for The Young Child Tax Credit

The Young Child Tax Credit was introduced in 2019 and has similar qualifications to CalEITC. Basically, if you qualify for CalEITC and have one or more children under the age of six, you may be eligible for a thousand dollars through this credit. Once again, you have to make sure to file before California tax day.

8. You can Pay your Taxes Online with Web Pay

If you’re worried about breaking COVID restrictions or facing exposure to the virus to meet the tax deadline in California, don’t fret. Use Web Pay to file your taxes online directly from your bank account with no additional fees.

You can also use MasterCard, American Express, and VISA cards to pay. But, in these cases, a service fee of 2.3-percent is applied.

You can file your taxes independently through an online program or you can seek professional assistance as long as you have the paperwork.

9. You can Also Check Your Refund Status Online

Already filed your state return and waiting on a refund? Look over it online on the Check Your Refund Status webpage.

The information you need to access this tool includes:

  • Your social security number
  • Exact refund amount
  • ZIP code
  • Numbers found in your mailing address
With all the financial variables that factor into your yearly taxes, filing can get extremely complicated.

10. Failure to Pay or File for Extensions Results in Penalties

It’s important to stay on top of U.S. tax day by following updates, checking the tax filing deadline in California, and making sure you follow the rules and requirements. Otherwise, you’ll have to face penalties.

Common reason for penalties include:

  • Failure to file
  • Failure to pay
  • Failure to pay the correct estimated tax amount
  • Presenting a dishonored check

11. You Can Get all your General Tax Questions Answered by the FTB Online Through a Live Chat

Do you still have general questions regarding California tax day? The Franchise Tax Board of the State of California may answer your questions in real-time through their online chat page. While the live chat is a trusted source, providing personal information such as social security numbers and bank account information is not advised.

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