Reporting Taxes

  1. What is a sales and use tax return?
  2. When do I file the tax return?
  3. If I cannot file my return or pay the tax on time, can I request an extension?
  4. What happens if I file a late tax return or my tax payment is overdue?
  5. If I don't owe taxes, do I still file a return?
  6. How do I pay the taxes that are due?
  7. Can I round to the nearest dollar?
  8. What happens if I do not file a tax return?
  9. What are prepayment accounts?
  10. If I sell or distribute fuels, am I subject to special rules for payment of sales tax?
  11. If I make retail sales of fuel products am I also required to make sales tax prepayments?
  12. If I have not been notified of the prepayment requirement, may I still make prepayments?
  13. If a customer pays after the tax reporting period, or pays in installments, when is the tax due?
  14. I report taxes annually. If I close or sell my business, when do I report taxes?
  15. Where can I get help in filling out a tax return?
  16. My accountant prepares my tax returns. Can my accountant efile for me?

  1. What is a sales and use tax return?

    A sales and use tax return is used by seller’s permit holders to report the payment of sales and use taxes to the BOE. Permit holders are required to file a tax return. Electronic Filing (efiling) is the BOE’s prescribed method for filing sales and use tax returns.

  2. When do I file the tax return?

    When you obtain your seller’s permit, you will be instructed to file your tax return on a monthly, quarterly, or annual reporting basis.

    Your tax return is due after the close of each reporting period. In other words, if your period closes on June 30, your tax return and payment is due on July 31, the last day of the following month. If the due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, returns are due the following business day. Check the Calendar of Due Dates for your filing basis.

    You must file your tax return and pay by the tax due date whether you efile, mail, or hand-deliver the return. Failure to receive a return or reminder from us does not excuse you from the requirement to file.

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  3. If I cannot file my return or pay the tax on time, can I request an extension?

    A Request for an Extension may be submitted online using eService's Relief Requests. The BOE may, for good cause, extend the due date by one month and waive the late filing and/or late payment penalties that would otherwise apply. Interest accrues during the extension period and thereafter until the liability is paid.

  4. What happens if I file a late tax return or my tax payment is overdue?

    If you file a late return and/or make a late tax payment, you are liable for interest and penalty charges. If you pay your full tax liability on time but do not file your return on time, you are still liable for a penalty for filing a late return. For more information on these charges, please refer to publication 75, Interest and Penalty Charges or call us at 1-800-400-7115.

    Under limited circumstances, the BOE may allow additional time (up to one month) for filing a return. If the additional time is granted and the return is filed and paid within the time, you will owe interest on the payment but will not be required to pay the penalty. A Request for an Extension may be submitted online using eService’s Relief Requests.

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  5. If I don't owe taxes, do I still file a return?

    Yes. You must file a tax return even if no taxes are owed for the reporting period. So, even if you have no sales for the period, or all your sales are nontaxable, you must still file a return.

  6. How do I pay the taxes that are due?

    There are several easy and convenient payment options available to pay your taxes. They are:

    • E-Check (ACH Debit). After efiling your tax return, you can choose to have the funds transferred directly from your account to ours by supplying your bank routing number and bank account number. Payments can be held for any banking day you select up to the due date of the tax return or prepayment.
    • Credit Card. The following credit cards are accepted: American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa. Instructions for charging your payment are available on our website under the heading, "Make a Payment."
    • Cash, Check, or Money Order. Make your payment payable to the State Board of Equalization. Checks and money orders may be sent through the mail and must be postmarked on or before the due date. Payments can also be made at any of our offices on or before the due date.

    Reminder: Regardless of how you pay, you must file your return and make your payment on time.

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  7. Can I round to the nearest dollar?

    Yes. You may round to the nearest whole dollar on your tax return. An amount of less than 50 cents would be rounded to the next lowest dollar, and an amount of 50 cents or more would be rounded to the next highest dollar. For example, $127.49 would be rounded to $127.00 and $127.50 would be rounded as $128.00.

  8. What happens if I do not file a tax return?

    You will be contacted by the BOE and asked to file the required tax return. If you do not file, your seller's permit may be revoked, which would legally prevent you from operating your business. If at this point you continued to operate your business, the Revenue and Taxation Code, Section 7153, provides that you would be guilty of a misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of $1,000 to $5,000 or imprisonment for up to one year, or both.

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  9. What are prepayment accounts?

    Businesses with average taxable sales of $17,000 or more per month are required to make prepayments to the BOE. You will be notified in writing if this requirement applies to you. Please do not make prepayments without written authorization.

    Your business may be exempt from the prepayment requirement when 75 percent or more of your total gross receipts (sales) are from the retail sale of fuel products.  This means if your total sales were $100,000 and your total retail sales of motor vehicle, diesel and jet fuels for the same period were $80,000, your retail sales of fuel products would be 80% (80,000/100,000=.80 or 80%) of your total sales and your account would be exempt from the prepayment requirement.

  10. If I sell or distribute fuels, am I subject to special rules for payment of sales tax?

    If you are a wholesaler or supplier of certain fuels, you are required to collect a prepayment of a portion of the sales tax at certain points in the fuel distribution process. You must report and pay the amounts you collect on your return. If you are a retailer or other seller of fuel who has prepaid sales tax to your suppliers, you can reimburse yourself by claiming a credit for the prepaid tax when you file your sales tax returns. For more information, access a copy of Publication 82, Prepaid Sales Tax and Sales of Fuel, or call the Customer Service Center at 1-800-400-7115.

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  11. If I make retail sales of fuel products am I also required to make sales tax prepayments?

    If your average taxable sales are $17,000 or more per month you are required to make prepayments to the BOE, unless sales of fuel make up 75% or more of your total gross receipts.  Please see question 9 “What Are Prepayment Accounts” for how this amount is calculated.  You will be notified in writing if this requirement applies to you. Please do not make prepayments without written authorization. 

  12. If I have not been notified of the prepayment requirement, may I still make prepayments?

    Please do not make prepayments without written authorization from the BOE.  You may contact the Customer Service Center at 1-800-400-7115 if you would like to make prepayments and your account will be updated at your request.

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  13. If a customer pays after the tax reporting period, or pays in installments, when is the tax due?

    Tax is due for the period in which the sale takes place--when a customer takes possession of or title of an item. This is true whether you receive payment at that time or at a later date. Accordingly, you must report credit or charge sales for the period in which they occur, regardless of when you receive payment.

    Lease payments, however, are treated differently. They are generally reported for the period in which you receive them, regardless of when the taxable lease began. You would not report any unpaid lease balances due. (Different rules apply to leases of trucks, aircraft, and other mobile transportation equipment.)

    For detailed information on leases, please refer to Regulation 1660, Leases of Tangible Personal Property--In General, or Regulation 1661, Leases of Mobile Transportation Equipment or publication 46, Tax Tips for Leasing of Tangible Personal Property in California.

    If you report a charge or credit sale and later find you cannot collect payment for it, you may be able to take a "bad debt" deduction on your sales and use tax return.

  14. I report taxes annually. If I close or sell my business, when do I report taxes?

    You are required to file a final tax return when closing your business. If you close your business between January 1 and March 31, you must file your final sales and use tax return by April 30. If you close between April 1 and June 30, the filing date is July 31. If you close between July 1 and September 30, the filing date is October 31. If you close between October 1 and December 31, you must file by January 31.

    At the time you close or sell your business, you should contact our nearest BOE office. You must file a final sales and use tax return. Failure to file a timely return will result in interest and penalty charges. Please refer to publication 74, Closing Out Your Seller’s Permit, for more information.

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  15. Where can I get help in filling out a tax return?

    Help is available on our website, by telephone and in person at our field offices. On our website, help is available through an online tutorial of our Basic Sales and Use Tax Class, which is also offered periodically in our offices throughout the state. The class takes you step by step through completing a return. You can also view an online tutorial demonstrating how to efile a return.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), publications, laws and regulations are also available on our website. You can enter a topic in the search field at the top of the screen and access a variety of information sources. You may also phone or visit one of our BOE offices or call the Taxpayer Information Section for assistance. Staff will explain how to complete the tax return correctly. Although they cannot prepare the return for you or review your records to determine what amount to report, they will be glad to explain what information is required and how to enter it.

  16. My accountant prepares my tax returns. Can my returns be mailed to my accountant?

    Yes. Your accountant can efile your return for you by using the Express Login method or you can register your accountant as an eClient to efile for your account. To register your accountant, call 1-800-400-7115.

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