Relief From Mandatory Penalties
The CDTFA is allowed to remove (cancel) mandatory penalties when taxpayers fails to pay taxes or file a return for a good reason and because of circumstances beyond his or her control. However, the taxpayer must still be able to prove that he or she exercised diligence and did not simply neglect tax obligations.
Taxpayers who wish to request a relief from penalties must do it after they receive a determination letter form the CDTFA. A taxpayer must present a request for relief in a written statement, under penalty of perjury, explaining the facts on which the request is based.
The use of CDTFA Form CDTFA–735, Request for Relief from Penalty (available at www.CDTFA.ca.gov), is recommended but not required. After submission of the written statement by taxpayer, CDTFA will review and approve or deny the request. Recommendation to approve or deny a request for relief above $50,000 is usually forwarded to the CDTFA Deputy Director for additional review and then submitted to the CDTFA for consideration.
Even if taxpayer's request for relief from penalty is denied, taxpayers can apply to CDTFA for reconsideration of the negative decision. For penalties of $50,000 or less, CDTFA sends taxpayer a denial letter, in which it usually explains that the decision to recommend denying relief from penalty can be reconsidered by CDTFA if the taxpayer provides new information within 15 days of the denial letter.
The letter also explains that if the taxpayer provides additional information and the CDTFA staff still recommends to deny taxpayer's request, the request for relief will then be reviewed by the Deputy Director. If the Deputy Director agrees with the recommendation to deny the request, the Deputy Director will send a letter to the taxpayer saying that he or she agrees with the CDTFA staff recommendation. Despite established 15-day deadline, CDTFA may still consider information received from taxpayer after 15-day period has expired.
Penalty for Failure to File a Return
CDTFA can impose penalty for failure to file a tax return. Every taxpayer with active CDTFA account is required to file returns at regular intervals as required by the law and CDTFA. RTC section 6591 imposes a 10 percent penalty for failure to file a return on the amount of taxes due, with respect to the time period for which that return was required. For example, if the taxpayer is on a monthly reporting basis and failed to file a return for only one month during a period under audit, a penalty would apply only to tax due for that month.
Failure to Pay Penalty
Revenue and Taxation Code section 6591 imposes a 10 percent penalty for failure to pay tax if tax is not paid on time, as follows:
- To self-declared tax, when not paid on or before the due date of the return or before the expiration of any extension.
- To determinations made by the CDTFA, when not paid on or before the penalty date shown on the Notice of Determination, unless a timely petition (for redetermination) has been filed.
- To redeterminations, when not paid on or before the penalty date shown on the Notice of Redetermination.
RTC section 6565 imposes a 10% penalty for failure to pay amount determined by the CDTFA if it is not paid before or on the date determination becomes final (30 days after service of the notice of determination on taxpayer). However, this period is extended if the taxpayer files a petition for redetermination with the CDTFA.
RTC section 6476 imposes a 6 percent penalty on the amount of a prepayment that is paid late, but which is paid before the last day of the month following the quarter in which that prepayment was due.
If the failure to make the prepayment was because of negligence or intentional disregard of the Sales and Use Tax Law or other rules and regulations, RTC section 6477 is increased by RTC section 6478 to 10 percent instead of 6. The same 10 percent penalty applies under similar circumstances to any deficiency in prepayment.
The penalties imposed in RTC sections 6479.3 and 6591 apply to taxpayers who are required to pay taxes by means of Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) but fail to do so. Prepayment penalties are not assessed in sales and use tax audits.