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In October 2019, a series of wildfires erupted across Riverside and Los Angeles Counties, prompting California Governor Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency. If you were affected by the wildfires, you may have extra time to file state tax returns with the Franchise Tax Board (FTB), which enforces corporate and personal income tax regulations in California. With the filing extension, you also become eligible for additional tax relief, including relief from “interest and any late filing or late payment penalties that would otherwise apply.” Below, our California tax attorneys explain everything you need to know about the FTB filing extension for wildfire victims, including who qualifies, how long the extension lasts, and which tax periods are affected, and how eligible taxpayers obtain the extension.
The FTB filing extension “applies to the October 15, 2019 extended tax filing deadline for tax year 2018 California state tax returns,” as the FTB explained in its October 14 announcement. Though earlier tax years are not affected by this particular extension, which is provided by the FTB, the IRS has previously offered federal tax relief for California wildfire victims, specifically those impacted during the period from July to November of 2018.
If you qualify for the extension, you will have until November 15, 2019, to file your 2018 California income tax return, adding one month to the deadline. Note that your 2018 return is the tax return due in 2019, whereas your 2019 tax return will not be filed until April or October of 2020.
In order to be eligible for the FTB tax filing extension, the following eligibility criteria must be met:
In addition to receiving a filing extension – and in turn, avoiding penalties and interest associated with delinquent tax submissions or payments – eligible taxpayers can also claim a disaster loss on their California income tax returns (with detailed instructions available here). The FTB provides two basic strategies for claiming a disaster loss for the Saddleridge, Sandalwood, Eagle, Reche, or Wolf wildfires of 2019:
Note that the “Disaster Code” for the recent fires is 112, “Incident Period” October 2019, as listed here. To obtain the extension and claim the disaster loss, the taxpayer should neatly print “the name of the disaster in ink (for example, Saddleridge Fire) at the top of the tax return.” If the taxpayer is filing the return online, he or she should simply follow the prompts that are provided by the FTB’s e-filing system. An experienced California tax preparer should assist you with this process, particularly if you have unfiled back taxes.
Whether you are interested in obtaining a filing extension, need help claiming a disaster loss deduction, require non-filer assistance for unfiled California tax returns, are concerned about an upcoming FTB tax audit, would like to appeal an FTB audit determination, believe you may qualify for the FTB Voluntary Disclosure Program (discussed further here), or have other questions regarding state income tax issues, our California tax lawyers are ready to provide an unmatched level of service. If you need assistance with any aspect of corporate or personal income tax compliance in California, turn to the Tax Law Office of David W. Klasing for 24-hour, tailored support. Contact us online to schedule a reduced-rate tax consultation, or call our main office in Irvine at (800) 681-1295 for immediate assistance.
Also, we’ve expanded our offices! In addition to our offices in Irvine and Los Angeles, the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing now have offices San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Panorama City, Oxnard, San Diego, Bakersfield, San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento.
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