The Franchise Tax Board announced it is now accepting 2012 state tax returns, and announced the following updates on law changes and filing services for California taxpayers.

American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012
Due to changes contained in this federal legislation, the California Schedules CA (540 & 540NR), 540/540A and 540NR Booklets, and other products that reference federal Schedule A, are delayed as FTB staff analyzes the changes. The most California taxpayers use Schedule CA to make adjustments for differences between federal and state tax laws.

Taxpayers who file using FTB’s CalFile, ReadyReturn, or Form 540 2EZ are not affected. Check FTB’s website for updates about when these schedules will be released.

Standard deduction
The standard deduction for single or filing separately tax statuses increased from $3,769 to $3,841. For joint, surviving spouse, or head of household filers, it increased from $7,538 to $7,682.

Exemption credit increases
The dependent exemption credit increased from $315 to $321 per dependent. The personal exemption amount for single, filing separately, and head of household filers increased from $102 to $104. For joint or surviving spouses, it increased from $204 to $208.

Tax rates increase for some
Income tax rates increased by up to 3 percent for individuals making $250,000 or more.

The income tax changes apply retroactively to all income earned or received since Jan. 1, 2012. The law waives the underpayment of estimated tax penalty that results from a retroactive tax law change that takes place during the year.

New CalFile features make filing easier
CalFile accepts taxpayers with income of up to $339,464, itemized deductions, and some tax credits. This year’s version of CalFile offers new features to make it easier and more convenient for taxpayers to complete their return. Taxpayers have the new option to receive an email confirmation verifying the return was filed and the ability to save information and come back later to finish the return.
Free online filing in minutes.

FTB’s other free e-file program, ReadyReturn uses information the state already has to generate a completed state tax return online for selected taxpayers. Eligible taxpayers must have used the single or head of household filing status the prior year, had one employer, claimed no more than five dependents, and took the standard deduction.

The following services are also available at the FTB website:

  • MyFTB Account —used to change a mailing address or get information about wages, California withholding, estimated tax payments, balances due, or FTB-issued 1099 forms.
  • Check Your Refund Status —After filing the 2012 tax return, taxpayers can use this service to see where their refund is.
  • Pay Taxes Online — FTB’s Web Pay allows individuals and businesses to authorize a payment from their bank account to pay their return balance due or extension payment. Payment must be made on or before April 15, to avoid penalties and interest.
  • Request a Monthly Payment Plan — FTB offers monthly installment payment plans to taxpayers who owe $25,000 or less and experiencing a financial hardship.

Phone service

FTB provides automated toll-free phone service at (800) 338-0505. To speak with a customer service representative, FTB staffs its general toll-free phone line, (800) 852-5711, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekdays excluding state holidays.