Form 540 EZ Instructions

Short forms make state filing taxes less of a headache.

The 540 2EZ is a simplified California state tax form for residents who meet certain filing requirements. Citizens of the state with moderate incomes and few deductions can save time by using this form. The EZ tax returns are only two pages long, and can be printed as a hard copy on one double-sided piece of paper. Other California tax forms such as the standard form 540 and 540A are available for anyone who does not qualify for the EZ income tax return.

Step 1

Meet the personal qualifying requirements for using the form 540 2EZ. You can use this California tax form if you are not blind; you lived in the state for the entire tax year; your filing status is single, married and filing jointly, head of household or qualifying widow or widower; your total income is $100,000 or less and filing as single or head of household, or your total income is $200,000 or less and filing as married jointly or qualifying widow or widower; you claim only standard deductions without adjustments to total income.

Step 2

Meet the form 540 2EZ filing requirements for dependents and dependent status. You may claim three dependents or less as long as no one can claim you as a dependent; or you can be claimed as a dependent by someone else as long as you have no dependents, you are filing single with an income over $15,152, you file married with more than $30,305 in income or you file as head of household with over $15,152 in income.

Step 3

Acquire a form 540 2EZ from the California Franchise Tax Board website. Fill in the required information by typing onto the form while it's on your screen, or print the state tax form and fill it out with a blue or black pen as a hard copy.

Step 4

Fill in your personal information along with that of your spouse if filing jointly in the upper section. Include Social Security numbers, home address and any change of name that occurred since the previous tax year.

Step 5

Select a filing status from lines 1 through 5. Show dependent status and up to three dependents you're claiming on lines 6 through 8. Record all income from wages, claimed tips, investments, pension, unemployment and retirement from Social Security or a benefit for retirement from railroad work using lines 9 through 15.

Step 6

Figure your taxable income by adding the total from all sources of income except Social Security, or railroad retirement and unemployment compensation. Record the total on line 16 of the 540 2EZ income tax return.

Step 7

Turn to the 2EZ tax table in the instruction book that applies to your filing status. Use the table on page 15 if filing single, page 27 if filing jointly as married or qualifying widow or widower, page 38 for filing as head of household. Find your income bracket on the left of a column and look at the figure under the number of dependents you're claiming to the right. Write that figure on line 17.

Step 8

Claim exemptions for renters and seniors if applicable. Use the question form on page 7 to see if you qualify for either, and write in the credits granted on lines 18 and 19. Add the two lines and write the total on line 20. Subtract the credits on line 20 from the tax amount on line 17. Write the figure on line 21. Write in a zero if the figure amounts to zero or less. Transfer the number to line 21a on the next page of the tax form.

Step 9

Write in the amount of tax paid as shown on your W-2 and/or 1099 forms on line 22. Subtract the figure on line 21a if it is lower than the figure on line 22 to show the amount of tax dollars you have overpaid. If the figure on line 21a is higher, then subtract line 22 from line 21a to show the amount of taxes you still have to pay the state. California tax forms also ask residents to show sales taxes due for out of state purchases. Figure the amount due on page 8 of the instruction book and write the figure on line 25.

Step 10

Write your refund amount on line 28, or the amount of tax due on line 27. Write in a bank account number and routing number to receive a refund by direct deposit. The refund may be split between two separate accounts by listing both along with the amounts you want sent to them.

Step 11

Print the tax returns and sign in pen along with your spouse if applicable. Mail tax returns showing a refund to: Franchise Tax Board, P.O. Box 942840, Sacramento, CA, 94240-0001. Mail California tax forms showing taxes due to: Franchise Tax Board, P. O. Box 942867, Sacramento, CA, 94267-0001. Make tax payments by direct bank withdrawal, credit card or by mailing a check or money order along with your tax returns.

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