How Does California Locate Taxpayers and Their Assets?

So this is actually a very interesting subject and something that we as tax practitioners talk about quite frequently. So the first way that California tracks you is through any filings that you do with the state. So for example, everybody in California files a tax return with the Franchise Tax Board and you have an address on them. So they use the address based on your FTB returns and the addresses that are submitted to third parties like banks and credit institutions and things like that to track your current information. Number two is they pull your credit report. So the same credit report that you can pull through Experian or TransUnion the state of California has access to and they can use it to locate taxpayers and their assets. Number three is California gets data from the IRS. So the IRS has a much more expanded database of taxpayer information and particularly for taxpayers that have moved out of California or might be in other places. The federal government is often a much more reliable and more accurate source of information.

The next thing they do if they're serious is they use a program called accurate and accurate is a massive public records database. So as you think about it, you and I go through our daily life. We have utility bills, we have a driver's license, we have voting records, all these things are available and can be made public record. And so what accurate does is accurate calls all of that information into a database that the Franchise Tax Board agents and the government agents and law enforcement and all these varying degrees of people have access to. It's very good and specifically focused on helping them find you very quickly. There's actually a limited tool available on the civil side if you're looking for a judgment debtor or something like that. But accurate is the tool that they use to really locate people and the final thing that they use which really shouldn't come as much of a surprise is collection agents who go on the internet, they do Google searches, they look on social media and they have an increasing reliance on those sources of information plus other sources that are called through big data. And the reason they do this is because those sources, because of the frequency which people interact with them, because of the updates and things like that, they're able to get much more accurate and reliable information through those sources. So that's the way that California locates people and they're usually pretty good at finding them.


Sam Brotman, JD, LLM, MBA

Owner and Director of Legal
Brotman Law