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California Tax Refund Procedure

  1. Filing a Claim for Refund
  2. If you believe you have overpaid an amount and you wish to receive a refund of the overpaid amount, you must file a claim for refund with the CDTFA.

    Where you make multiple payments, each of which you believe is not actually due, you can file a claim for refund along with each payment. This is called protective claim. By filing your refund claim, you will ensure that you do not allow the deadline for filing a claim to pass.

    Form of Claim for Refund

    You may submit a letter requesting a refund, or you may use CDTFA-101, Claim for Refund to file your claim. Your claim must be in writing and state legal basis for your refund claim. Your claim must specify the reporting period for which you made the payment you claim should be refunded and, if known, the amount of the refund you are seeking.

    You may include a request for an appeals conference or Board hearing, or both, with your claim for refund. However, unlike a petition for redetermination, taxpayer does not have an absolute right to an appeals conference or Board hearing.

    CDTFA Refund Claims for sales and use taxes must be sent to:

    Audit Determination and Refund Section,
    California Department of Tax and Fee Administration
    PO Box 942879
    Sacramento, CA 94279-0039

    General Refund Filing Period Limitations

    The time period for filing a claim for refund will vary depending on a number of factors. The time periods for sales and use tax claims are given below.

    Whichever of the following dates occurs last should be your filing deadline:

    • 3 years from the due date of the return for the period for which the claimed overpayment was made.
    • 6 months from the date of your claimed overpayment.
    • For a payment made based on Notice of Determination, 6 months from the date the determination became final.

    Note: Where CDTFA collects an involuntary payment based on levies or liens, a claim for refund will be timely if filed within three years of the date of the involuntary payment. If you do not file your claim for refund within the specified time limit, you will have no further recourse with the CDTFA to recover overpaid taxes or fees.

    Extreme Caution: Refund claim filing limitation period is very general and may change from time to time. Do not rely on these general guidelines for your case as laws or facts in your case may result in different time lines. Contact a tax professional or CDTFA directly to get specific information on your refund filing times.

  3. Multiple Payments and Claims for One Liability
  4. CDTFA does not take action on a refund claim until the full tax balance has been paid. Protective Refund Claim should be filed with each payment until you have paid the entire sales tax liability.

    CDTFA has a general policy to suspend collection activity on the interest and penalty pending the outcome of the refund claim.

    If your claim for sales tax refund is denied, you will receive a letter which describes the basis for the Board’s decision. Taxpayer may request an appeals conference with the Appeals Division, or a Board hearing but hearing on a refund matter is discretionary.

  5. Filing an Action in Court
  6. If the CDTFA denies your claim for refund, you must file a lawsuit for refund of sales tax payments within 90 days after the mailing of the CDTFA's Notice of Denial of Claim for Refund. Taxpayer loses legal rights if the lawsuit is not timely filed.

    Taxpayers cannot file a lawsuit against California Department of Tax and Fee Administration unless an administrative claim for tax refund with the CDTFA has been filed and denied.

    If CDTFA does not act on your tax refund claim within 6 months, taxpayer may deem the tax refund claim denied and file a lawsuit immediately thereafter.

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