How to Get a California State Tax Extension

File this, file that. Maybe you’re not ready to file. That’s okay — the Golden State makes it easy to delay filing taxes. Whether you’re waiting on a form or just need more time, you can delay filing your taxes until Oct. 15. (And if payments are a problem, you can delay those, too.)

According to the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB), there’s no need to fill out any application. All Californians qualify for the extension. But there’s a catch: You must pay your estimated taxes by April 15, the tax-filing deadline, or else you’ll be smacked with late fees.

To recap: You can delay filing taxes, but you can’t delay paying taxes, with few exceptions. It’s weird, we know. Read on to find out how to get a California state tax extension the right way.

Read more: we researched free tax software and put together a list of the best options here

Cheapest: Make extension payment via WebPay

So, you’ve decided to file taxes between April 15 and Oct. 15, 2024. There’s one thing you need to do to avoid late fees, and that’s make an extension payment. Extension payments can be made via a handful of ways, including bank transfer, credit card payment, or check.

The cheapest way to pay is by using WebPay, the FTB’s fast and free payment platform. Here’s how to file an extension payment via WebPay:

  1. Navigate to the WebPay portal.
  2. Enter personal information, including last name and Social Security number.
  3. Fill out mailing address information.
  4. Select “Extension Payment (Form 3519)” as payment type.
  5. Enter tax year, payment amount, and payment date.
  6. Enter bank account information.
  7. Fill out remaining fields and submit.

You can estimate your taxes by looking at the previous year’s tax return and comparing it to what forms you’ve managed to cobble together. When in doubt, overpay. California will refund you for overpaying, but if you severely underpay your taxes, you could be on the hook for late fees.

If you submit your extension payment electronically, you don’t need to fill out any other special forms. But to submit via snail mail, you must file the form Payment for Automatic Extension for Individuals (FTB 3519).

Snail mail: File form FTB 3519

To submit a tax extension by mail, fill out the form FTB 3519 and submit it by April 15, 2024.

How to file form FTB 3519

Unsure how to get started? Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how to submit FTB 3519 and pay by check or money order:

  1. Fill out Form FTB 3519 with your personal information.
  2. Make your check or money order payable to “Franchise Tax Board.” Write your Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, the tax year, and “Form FTB 3519” on the check or money order.
  3. Detach the payment voucher from the bottom of Form FTB 3519 and enclose it with your check or money order in an envelope.
  4. Mail the envelope to the address provided on the form:

Franchise Tax Board

PO Box 942867

Sacramento, CA 94267-0008

Submitting the form will prevent the FTB from charging you fees for late filing. Once you file your tax return, you’ll be refunded for overpayment or charged for underpayment.

Easiest: Use tax-filing software to file a tax extension

Your tax preparation platform may file a California state tax extension for you. If you’re a customer of a platform like TurboTax, check in there. It could save you time, though you’ll probably pay extra for the privilege. The best tax-filing software makes submitting forms easy.

How to delay paying taxes in 2024

You can easily delay filing California state taxes, but delaying payments is trickier. Generally speaking, the longer you wait to pay post-deadline, the bigger the fees you’ll owe.

One notable exception is installment payments. If you meet the prerequisites, you can pay your state tax return in installments, spreading out payments over three to five years. It costs $34 to set up a payment plan, so you’ll be paying a bit extra in the long run. But it keeps payments low.

If you can’t pay a bill on time, you can request a one-time 30-day extension. You must log in to your MyFTB account, navigate to the “Services” menu, and select “Delay my payment.” The catch is you’ll pay interest on top of your original balance.

Still can’t afford to pay taxes? File your taxes anyway. The penalty for filing late is much worse than the penalty for paying late. Better to file on time and pay late than to be late on both.

First time filing taxes? Check out our simple tax-filing guide. It’ll take you through getting your documents ready and choosing how to file.

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