State provides free completed tax returns for many

By March 11, 2011

Nearly 2 million California taxpayers can check online to see if the state has completed their tax returns for them, the Franchise Tax Board announced.

“ReadyReturn provides many taxpayers with a filled-in or completed tax return that is ready for review and immediate filing,” State Controller and FTB Chairman John Chiang said in a news release.

ReadyReturn reduces the tax-filing burden for those with simple tax returns by using existing wage records to complete their returns. Taxpayers can accept the tax return as presented, change any information on the return, or disregard it for another filing method.

Taxpayers can check to see if they qualify by visiting FTB’s website at http://ftb.ca.gov and clicking on ReadyReturn. All that is needed is a name and Social Security number.

Taxpayers will qualify who last year:

* Earned wages from only one employer.

* Filed either as single or head of household.

* Took the standard deduction.

* Claimed no more than five dependents.

Taxpayers who are renters and who can be claimed as a dependent also are eligible.

Taxpayers who married, entered into a registered domestic partnership, had a child, received added income, or qualify for a tax credit, can easily update their ReadyReturn online. Taxpayers can preview the ReadyReturn experience from FTB’s website. FTB produced a short ReadyReturn video showing how easy it is to file a ReadyReturn.

For those who don’t qualify for ReadyReturn, FTB offers CalFile, a free e-file program for more complicated tax filings. This online process takes about 15 to 30 minutes to complete. With CalFile, the taxpayer types in his or her tax information and e-files the return from FTB’s website. More than 6.4 million taxpayers can use CalFile. FTB also produced a short video describing the ease of using CalFile.

FTB’s website also offers a listing of free or fee-based e-file services provided by commercial businesses.

Last year, nearly 75 percent of all personal income tax returns were filed electronically. Key benefits of e-filing are that tax returns are more accurate; taxpayers get confirmation that FTB received their return, and the state saves paper-processing costs, the news release said. Taxpayers who file online and have their refunds issued by direct deposit often get refunds within one week. Paper-filed returns take longer, up to six to eight weeks depending on the time of year the return is filed.

Enterprise staff

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