Baseball season begins with tax Dodgers and spring training surcharges
Economy's effect on tax filing methods

California tax tidbit: Ready Return

Where to start with California taxes?

California flag The state has given us such things as Proposition 13 that limits property tax increases and set off similar revolutions nationwide, state IOUs in lieu of tax refunds and, of course, the Governator who defeated an erroneous federal tax lien

Yeah, it's easy to poke fun at the Golden State and its taxes. But the Franchise Tax Board folks also have what some say is the filing format of the future: Ready Return.

This free service was developed to make filing individual income tax returns easier. Tax officials use information the state already has from the last return you filed and from your W-2 and then they fill out a California state tax return for you. All you need to do is review the form, make any necessary changes and file.

Of course, this option isn't yet available to every Californian.

You can only have wage income, not money from investments or other sources, and there are limits on how much you can earn and still use the service.

Your filing status matters, too, as does the number of dependents you claim; more than five and you're out of Ready Return luck.

Still it's an interesting idea and given the way things out on the Left Coast seem to work their way eastward, one that taxpayers in other states might be seeing soon.

Tax trip around the United States: This is the latest in our series highlighting tax information from the 50 U.S. states and our nation's capital.

The State Tax Departments page provides links to official state and District of Columbia revenue Web sites so that you can find out more about your home's tax laws and filing requirements. You also can check out info on other locales in our Complete menu of tasty state tax tidbits.

As the 2010 tax season progresses, a different state will be featured each day as noted in Don't forget your state taxes! Check back to see what tax tidbit we share about your home state!

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BF Creach

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What if taxpayers don’t qualify for ReadyReturn?

ƒ Taxpayers may use CalFile, our user-friendly, free, online filing program. It allows taxpayers to e-file their returns quickly and securely – direct to FTB.

CalFile eligibility requirements are:

•ƒ Any filing status.
ĥ California resident for the entire year.
•ƒ Original tax return for current tax year.
•ƒ Up to 10 dependents.
ĥ Federal AGI up to:
--$163,187 for single and married filing separately taxpayers.
--$244,785 for head of household taxpayers.
--$326,379 for married/Registered Domestic Partners(RDP)filing jointly and
qualifying widow(er) taxpayers.
ƒ CalFile also accepts itemized deductions and some tax credits.

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