The Franchise Tax Board reminded taxpayers in a press release issued last week that Friday is the deadline for filing 2020 state personal income-tax returns to avoid late-filing penalties and to be eligible for Golden State Stimulus (GSS) payments.

Each year, Californians file close to 19.2 million state personal income tax returns, with more than 1.5 million taxpayers taking advantage of the state’s automatic six-month filing extension, according to the FTB. To date, nearly half a million 2020 state returns have yet to be filed.

As of Oct. 4, Californians had filed nearly 18.8 million personal income-tax returns – 93% of them electronically. The state has issued 14.7 million refunds this year, totaling more than $15.4 billion.

Credits and stimulus

Taxpayers age 18 and up who work and have low income can use the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) and receive up to $3,027 cash back. If by the end of the year those qualifying for CalEITC have at least one child under age 6, they may be eligible for $1,000 from the Young Child Tax Credit.

Taxpayers with California adjusted gross income of $1 to $75,000 for the 2020 tax year – and who file their state tax return by Friday – are eligible for the Golden State Stimulus II. Taxpayers filing with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) who have applied for but have not received their ITIN by Friday have until Feb. 15 to file their return and still be eligible for GSS I and GSS II.

To be eligible, taxpayers cannot be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer, must be a California resident on the date payment is issued and must have been a California resident for more than half of 2020.

For more information on GSS, visit ftb.ca.gov/help.

CalFile program

Taxpayers can file electronically free of charge using the FTB’s CalFile program. CalFile and a list of other free or fee-based e-file services are available on the FTB’s website at ftb.ca.gov.

E-filing provides faster refunds, increased accuracy and immediate confirmation that the agency received a return, according to the FTB. For a quicker refund, opt for a direct deposit to a bank account.

Help with payments

Taxpayers can use the FTB’s electronic payment options. Web Pay allows taxpayers to authorize a payment from a bank account to cover return balances. Individual taxpayers can also visit their MyFTB account to securely access their tax information and to view and schedule tax payments.

Personal income taxes were due May 17, but installment plans are available on the FTB website for taxpayers facing financial hardship. Those who owe $25,000 or less and can repay within five years generally qualify.

Disaster information

Individual taxpayers and businesses impacted by California wildfires may have more time to make payments and file their 2020 state income-tax returns.

Taxpayers in Lassen, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Tehama and Trinity counties have been granted an extension until Nov. 15 to file state tax returns and make certain payments.