Taxation

Ca. Tax Lawyer March 2021, Volume 30, Number 1

Bringing Back the Buffer: A Proposal to Amend CRTC Section 18604(a) to Provide a Seven-Month Filing Extension to Corporate Taxpayers12

By Saba S. Shatara and Megan Robertson3

Editor’s Note: The annual Sacramento Delegation provides tax practitioners an opportunity to present papers on topics of concern to high-ranking officials of the Franchise Tax Board, California Department of Tax and Fee Administration, Board of Equalization, and Legislative staff for purposes of advocating for legislative or regulatory change. The article below contains the unaltered arguments and materials originally presented by the authors to members of the California State Legislature and Franchise Tax Board ("FTB") leadership at the Sacramento Delegation, held on October 11, 2019. Their proposal recommended that—in the absence of action by the FTB under the authority provided by California Revenue & Taxation Code ("CRTC") Section 18604(a)—the Legislature amend that statute to enact an automatic seven-month extension for filing corporate returns to allow for a one-month buffer between the extended due dates for filing the federal and California corporate tax returns. The authors posited that changing the extended due date for C corporation returns would reduce both the compliance burden and potential for inaccuracies when preparing California corporate returns, as well as costs for both taxpayers and the FTB related to the filing of amended returns. As a result of the presentation at the Sacramento Delegation, the FTB reexamined the matter and issued Notice 2019-07, which extended the corporate filing due date up consistent with this proposal. The 2021 Sacramento Delegation will take place in October. Those interested in participating may obtain additional information by emailing Sacramento Delegation Chair Michael Laisne at Michael.Laisne@ftb.ca.gov.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

For decades, the due date to file a corporate tax return4 in California was one month after the federal due date. For calendar year taxpayers, the federal due date was March 15, and the California due date was April 15. These staggered dates reflected the simple fact that taxpayers require the final federal return to prepare their California corporate returns. However, in January 2016, the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act took effect, amending the federal corporate tax return due date from March 15 to April 15. This caused the due date to file a California corporate return to fall on the same date as the filing of the federal corporate return—thus removing the one-month buffer that had existed for years between the due dates to file these returns. Likewise, since both federal law and California law allow an automatic six-month extension to file these returns, the extended due date under both federal and California law now falls on the same date—six months after the original due date.

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