I Got a Notice in the Mail From California Asking Me to File a Tax Return. What Should I Do?

Okay step one, don't contact the state of California. At least, not yet. The very first thing you want to do when you receive that notice is assess what your minimum contacts are with the state and what your level of risk is. So California, when they send out all those notices that say please file a return, a lot of those are fishing expeditions. So the state may have gotten a piece of information or gotten your name somehow and you might not actually have a filing requirement with the state of California but before you jump out and contact the state, it's important to assess what your level of risk is and what your level of exposure is. Second after you have done those two things, you want to put together a plan for responding to the state. You want to understand what information that the state has that triggered that notice and why you received that notice and then you want to prepare a response tailored to the information that the state has on you. So that you resolve the issue very quickly, the key thing here is controlling the scope of information. You never want to offer the state more information than it has because it's like pulling a thread they'll just keep coming and coming and coming, so you want to address the issue. You want to do so sufficiently and then you want to mitigate your liability and move on. If you do have a filing requirement in a particular state, you want to prepare and organize returns in a manner that will similarly cut off your liability. So again the idea is controlling the scope of information in order to minimize your liability and to eliminate risk.


Sam Brotman, JD, LLM, MBA

Owner and Director of Legal
Brotman Law