CA Sales Tax 101 Sales Tax Filing States

How to File a Sales Tax Return in California

by Jennifer Dunn

File Sales Tax California TaxJar

The California Board of Equalization doesn’t make it easy for online sellers to file sales tax. That’s one big reason why we created TaxJar. TaxJar’s state reports simplify the process. We wrote this post as a step-by-step guide for using TaxJar’s California local report to fill in the info you need to file your California sales tax return. Save hours on this tricky process!

Note: You may want to double click to enlarge these screenshots so you can get a good look!

1.) Login to TaxJar. If you don’t have a TaxJar account, don’t worry. You can sign up for TaxJar today and we’ll import your transactions from the platforms and shopping carts you sell on (including Amazon, eBay, Paypal, Square, Shopify, and many more). No more compiling clunky sales tax reports from multiple shopping carts and trying to compile them by hand before filling out California’s complicated return.

2.) Click “California” on your TaxJar dashboard. This will take you to your California report, which will give you the information you need to fill out your California sales tax return. (Be sure to click Schedule A and Schedule B to see the drop down menus with more info.)

In this example, we’ll file using your “Expected Sales Tax Due Report” so make sure you click that tab on your California state report.

California sales tax filing taxjar

3.) Login to the State Website – Login to the California Board of Equalization website in a separate tab.

California BOE Login

4.) Enter your Gross Sales – Use the “Gross Sales” amount from your California state TaxJar report, ($164,835.96 in the example below.)

File sales tax return California

5.) Enter your Expected Adjustments – this number is generally freight (i.e. shipping charges.)  On your California sales tax filing page, click the “Deductions” button, choose “Freight” from the drop down menu, and enter the amount of “Expected Adjustments” on your TaxJar California state report in the box.

Choose the “Deductions” button:

CA State Sales Tax Return

Then the “Freight” option:

CA State Sales Tax Filing Example

6.) Enter your sales to areas with no district taxes – Fill this out here:

CA District Tax Instructions

You’ll find this number on your TaxJar California state report as “Sales to areas with no district tax.”

California sales tax filing

7.) View your California Schedule B report on TaxJar (if the California system prompts you to file Schedule B). (While schedule B is second in alphabetical order, we think it’s easier to fill this schedule out first. You’ll soon see why.) To see your schedule B report in TaxJar, click the blue “Schedule B (County Tax Breakdown)” tab on your California State Report. Keep in mind that not every seller will be prompted to fill out Schedule B. If you aren’t, you can skip this step and the next one.

Fill out California BOE Schedule B TaxJar

8.) Fill out Schedule B (Remember, not all sellers will file Schedule B). The highlighted column “Amount of 1% combined state and local tax” (above) is what needs to be input in Schedule B. California requires that you round up or down to the nearest dollar amount. So if you collected less than fifty cents in a county, either skip that county or enter 0 in the box next to the county on Schedule B. If you collected between .50 and $1.00, enter 1. If you collected $4.95, enter 5.

When you’re finished, all of the taxes input should amount to 1% of your “sales subject to state and local tax”. The California sales tax filer featured in the Schedule B screenshot below made $3,300 in sales subject to California state and local tax. So it’s correct that the total on Schedule B is $33 (i.e. 1% of $3,300.)

CA BOE sched B

California Schedule B at the California BOE Website

9.) View your California Schedule A report on TaxJar. Schedule A is also known as your “district taxes” form. Click “Schedule A (District Tax Breakdown)” on your California state report in TaxJar.

California state sales tax schedule a

10.) Fill out Schedule A. Use the amounts from the highlighted column (above) to fill out your California Schedule A form. This time you enter the amount of sales you made, not the amount of sales tax you collected. Just like you did with Schedule B, round up or down to the nearest dollar amount.

Note: If you see negative numbers in your TaxJar local report when filling out your Schedule A, leave that jurisdiction blank and add the amount to “sales to a district without tax.”

11.) Watch for exceptions. Some districts might be listed twice. In this case, this is because the tax rate in that area may have changed during the year.  You can avoid any problems here by making sure that the district numbers match up on your TaxJar California state report and on your Schedule A.

And that’s it! You’ve used your California state report in TaxJar to save hours filling out your California sales tax return!

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