The new California Office of Tax Appeals (OTA) just released its first seven opinions. All seven opinions were decided in the favor of the Franchise Tax Board (FTB); none of the taxpayer-appellants opted for representation by an attorney, although three appellants were represented by an Enrolled Agent or Certified Public Accountant. The first appeals heard by the OTA covered a variety of issues, including penalty and interest assessments, filing status, and ridesharing credits. Six of the opinions are confirmed as "nonprecedential," and one opinion is pending precedential status. To read the opinions in full, click here: https://ota.ca.gov/opinions/
Californians will be able to vote on two new legislative measures related to taxes on the June 5, 2018 Statewide Direct Primary Election ballot.
The California Tax Education Council (CTEC) began a public awareness campaign for the 2018 tax filing season targeting "ghost tax preparers," meaning paid tax professionals who do not sign the returns they prepare. The Council reminds taxpayers that "tax preparers who charge a fee to do your taxes, but never sign your tax return are breaking the law." Hiring a ghost preparer could lead to tax refund fraud, penalties, or additional taxes. For more information from CTEC on this issue, click here.
In September, 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a directive to tax examiners concerning research expenditures for business entity taxpayers with assets of at least $10 million and that follow Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) to prepare certified financial statements and records for research costs following ASC 730. Taxpayers are provided a federal credit for increasing research activities under IRC Section 41; the state of California has decided to follow the same directive for California business entity taxpayers.
The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) has updated certain aspects of tax return filing starting with returns for tax year 2017. The standard deduction for taxpayers filing as single increased to $4,236; for taxpayers who are married filing jointly, the new standard deduction is $8,472. Personal exemptions were also raised to $114 and $228, respectively.
The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) recently announced that tax relief may be available to certain California taxpayers impacted by the recent wildfires, floods, and mudslides. Specifically, the deadlines for individual income tax returns normally due on April 17, 2018, and quarterly estimated tax payments normally due on January 16, 2018, have been extended to April 30, 2018. More information on how to claim a disaster loss with the FTB is available here.
Efforts are already underway to reduce the slap many Californians are feeling from the $10,000 limit on federal deductions for state property or income taxes paid. Senators De Leon, Allen, and Hill have introduced SB 227, the "Protect California Taxpayers Act," which would effectively eliminate the cap on these federal deductions by providing a dollar-for-dollar tax credit against the state income tax liabilities of taxpayers who make a charitable donation to the California Excellence Fund. Donations would be used to fund California government programs typically funded through state tax revenues. Any credit that exceeds the taxpayer's income tax liability would be carried over to the next year, and would not be refundable.
The new state Office of Tax Appeals (OTA) began hearing appeals cases as of January 1, 2018. California taxpayers may file an appeal with the OTA after receiving a Notice of Action or Notice of Determination from the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) or the new California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) with an appeal deadline. Appeals will be heard by three-member panels of Administrative Law Judges in Sacramento, Fresno, and Los Angeles. Draft emergency regulations governing the appeals process are available here: https://ota.ca.gov/draft-emergency-regulations/
Since 1990, the California Employment Development Department (EDD) has retained the statutory authority to issue penalties for failure to file Forms W-2 and/or 1099. Until this year, effective January 1, 2018, taxpayers assessed the steepest of those penalties, Unemployment Insurance Code section 13052.5, did not have a right to petition the assessment. However, since enactment of Assembly Bill 1695 on July 24, 2017, and effective January 1, 2018, Section 13052.5 is now petitionable before the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board.
The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) issued Legal Ruling 2017-02 on October 16, 2017, concerning the state filing requirements of certain nonresident aliens with respect to foreign financial assets.