Generally, there are three situations where an individual will need to file a tax return in California:
- The individual is a resident of California and has income from whatever sources that exceeds the amount required by law;
- The individual is a part-year resident of California who has income taxable by California and has income from all sources that exceeds the filing requirement of the resident taxpayer; or
- The individual is a nonresident of California but has income taxable by California and has income from all sources that exceeds the filing requirement of the resident taxpayer.
The amount required by law before a tax return is required to be filed depends on the filing status of the taxpayer (i.e. single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household, and qualified widow(er)) and changes every year.
- For a resident of California, it means any income from whatever sources (including foreign income) that the taxpayer has that is not excluded from tax by law.
- For a part-year resident of California, it means income from whatever sources (including foreign income) that the taxpayer has while residing in California and income derived from sources in California during the period of nonresidency.
- For a nonresident of California, it means income derived from sources in California.
A resident of California is one who is:
- In California other than for a temporary or transitory purpose; or
- Domiciled in California and is outside the state for a temporary or transitory purpose.
"Domicile" means a place where an individual resides in and to which he or she intends to return whenever he or she is absent. Thus, a resident of California continues to be a resident if he or she is only temporarily absent from the state. However, certain exceptions apply to:
- Government Officials, and
- Individuals who are absent from the state for an uninterrupted period of at least 546 consecutive days under an employment-related contract.
Tax laws are complex and ever-changing. Although there are various tax preparation softwares on the market that may help you with your tax problems, they cannot provide the same level of service that an experienced and knowledgeable tax attorney can. If you are unsure about your residency status and what income is sourced to California or you need someone to represent you before the Franchise Tax Board, a California business attorney can help you.