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California Tax Practice

Ascendant’s attorneys place a strong emphasis on California state and local taxes.  We regularly represent individuals and businesses in tax disputes with the Franchise Tax Board (FTB), the Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA), the Employment Development Department (EDD), as well as counties and municipalities throughout California.

California Taxes Background

In California, state taxes take several forms and are regulated by several agencies.  Presently, California tax authorities have increased their audit and enforcement efforts in disputes involving state income taxes, payroll taxes, sales and use taxes, and property taxes.  In some instances, California can be more aggressive in its tax collection efforts than the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  Because of California’s complex tax regime, it is important to have an advocate with a deep understanding of California taxes and their relationship with federal taxes.

Our attorneys has an understanding and significant experience of how the various California taxes are administered by the various State tax authorities.  In addition, we represent clients in tax disputes involving property and local taxes at the county and local levels.

The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB)

The FTB is the organization responsible for administering and enforcing the individual and corporate income tax laws in the state of California. The FTB handles certain tax issues unique to California.  We have extensive knowledge and experience handling the following tax matters particular to the FTB:

  • Corporate franchise taxes
  • Corporate income taxes
  • Personal income taxes
  • Constitutional issues affecting taxation
  • Apportionment issues
  • Business/nonbusiness issues
  • Enterprise Zone credits
  • Research and development credits
  • Residency and sourcing of income
  • Basis issues
  • Refund claims
  • FTB Audits
  • FTB Protests
  • Closing agreements
  • Settlements
  • Administrative Appeals before the Office of Tax Appeals
  • Litigation

The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDFTA)

As of July 01, 2017, the BOE went through a restructuring and is now organized as the CDFTA.  The CDFTA is responsible for a majority of the responsibilities previously vested in the BOE, including the administration and collection of sales taxes, excise taxes, fuel taxes, environmental fees and myriad other taxes and fees.  In addition, the CDFTA hears FTB appeals, promulgates property tax regulations and sets the property tax values for public utilities.) We have experience in handling the following:

  • Sales & Use Tax Audits
  • Administrative Appeals before the Office of Tax Appeals.[1]
  • Petitions and appeals conferences
  • Resale, interstate commerce and other exemptions
  • Manufacturer’s exemption
  • Sampling issues
  • Settlement Agreements
  • Sales & Use Tax Refund Claims
  • Litigation

California Employment Development Department (EDD).  Employment Taxes

One of the primary functions of the EDD is the collection and administration of California payroll taxes.  In addition, the EDD regularly tries to reclassify independent contractors to employee status to get business owners to pay additional CA payroll taxes.

The EDD has broad powers to in the collection of unpaid employment taxes.  For example, the EDD can personally hold an individual taxpayer liable for a corporation’s nonpayment of California payroll taxes.  Further, the EDD can criminally prosecute a taxpayer for not paying over their required California payroll taxes.  The EDD also has the authority to file tax liens, levy bank accounts, and shut businesses down for the nonpayment of California payroll taxes.

We take every measure possible to protect your company from back taxes and penalties for misclassification on employment taxes.  We provide the following services in connection with EDD tax disputes:

  • EDD Audit representation
  • Advisory, Planning and Audit Defense regarding “Independent Contractor” vs. “Employee” status classification issues.
  • ArrangeEDD Installment Agreement and Bank Levy Releases
  • Structuring Offers in Compromise
  • Criminal defense where the EDD has is pursuing criminal prosecution for unpaid employment taxes
  • EDD Refund Claims
  • Administrative Appeals
  • Litigation

Our knowledge and experience with EDD’s tax collection policies and procedures can help you navigate the process of an EDD audit.  Before going forward regarding a dispute with the EDD, we recommend you contact our office to discuss your options before going forward.

Property Taxes and Local Taxes and Fees

In addition, to the FTB, CDTFA and EDD, individuals and businesses also have to contend with the myriad taxes and fees imposed by counties and municipalities including property and local taxes, as well as certain fees.  For many, these taxes may not be easily understood.  We provide strategic advice and defense in the issues arising in this area of taxation including:

  • Tax Planning
  • Audit Defense
  • Administrative appeals
  • Administrative protests
  • Settlements
  • Refund claims
  • Litigation
  • Apportionment
  • Constitutional issues

No matter the complexity of your tax issue, we work hard to put you in the best possible position to succeed.  Whether you want to plan around California taxes or are under audit by a California tax authority, Ascendant will put you in the best possible position to succeed.

[1] California Assembly Bill 102 establishes the Office of Tax Appeals (OTA) and transfers to the OTA the various duties, powers, and responsibilities of the Board of Equalization necessary or appropriate to conduct administrative appeal hearings, except for those duties, powers, and responsibilities imposed or conferred upon the BOE by the California Constitution.