Being the state with the highest population and one of the highest state income tax rates, California taxpayers generally have more than one tax form to file. California residents need to use different tax forms for various purposes, but there is a single tax return like federal income taxes.
There are two primary tax forms that every California resident that’s paying taxes should know: Form 540 and 540ES. This article will go over each of these tax forms and provide you with an online fillable copy so that you can fill it out online and print out a paper copy to file with the Franchise Tax Board, the California tax department.
Form 540 California state income tax return
Form 540 is your state income tax return. The same as the federal income tax return, you can file it on paper or electronically. Again, just like federal income tax returns, you might have to pay for an e-file as you’ll do it through a tax preparation service.
We highly recommend e-filing even if you’re not eligible to do it for free, as you’ll get the most out of e-file. Some of the benefits include a faster refund, the ability to automatically search for the deductions and credits you’re eligible to claim, an easy interface to navigate through, and many more.
There is also an easier version of Form 540. The 1040-EZ may have been long gone, but California residents still have the option to file an uncomplicated version of their state income tax returns. This version of Form 540 is especially convenient for single taxpayers claiming the standard deduction over itemizing.
Get Form 540-EZ
California taxpayers that are making estimated tax payments need to use the estimated tax payment voucher to let the Franchise Tax Board know how much they’ve paid for each quarter.
You must file this tax form for every quarter of the year regardless of the payment amount. Even if you had little to no income for a quarter but made estimated payments – and even if that payment is something very tiny like $10 – you must file and send it to the FTB.
It’s a simple payment voucher rather than a full-on-full tax form that only requires the personal information of the taxpayer and the amount paid.
Get Form 540-ES
The above tax forms are for individuals. If you have a business registered as LLC, S-Corp, or any other, you may need to file additional tax forms along with your state income tax return. These tax forms are essentially tax returns for your business(es) that determine the tax owed by the company.