CA Sales Tax 101 Sales Tax Filing States

How to File a California Sales Tax Return

by Jennifer Dunn

File Sales Tax California TaxJar

*Please note: California has recently changed their filing process and we’re currently working on updating this post to reflect the new changes with the new CDTFA process. An updating post is coming very soon, please subscribe to our blog to be notified when it is published. 

The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration 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!

If you’d rather not look at a California sales tax filing ever again, you can enroll to have TaxJar AutoFile your California sales tax return for you. Learn more about TaxJar AutoFile here.

What You’ll Need

1) Your TaxJar California Sales Tax Report

2) Your California User ID and Password (recommended) or

3) Your California Limited Access Code and Account Number

4) Your bank account number

5) Your routing number

How to File a California Sales Tax Return

Note: This could take as little as 10-15 minutes with TaxJar, depending on your sales volume. 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. (You can read more about whether to use your Actual Sales Tax Collected Report or Expected Sales Tax Due Report here.)

California state sales tax report TaxJar

3) Login to the California sales tax website. Login to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration website in a separate tab.

4) Under the Accounts tab, click Sales and Use Tax. This will take you to your available filings. Choose the correct period and click “File Return”

5) Answer questions – The new system has questions that will vary by business. Select the correct answer for your business, and then click “Next” to proceed.

6) Enter your Gross Sales – Use the “Gross Sales” amount from your California state TaxJar report, ($34,605.00 in the example below.)

California gross sales amount TaxJarTaxJar gross sales ^

California sales tax filing ^

7) Enter your Deductions or Expected Adjustments.  This number is generally freight (i.e. shipping charges.)  On your California sales tax filing page, this will be on your “Deductions” tab. Choose “Shipping” 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:

The enter the amount of “deductions” from your California state page:

California sales tax deductions

8) View your California Schedule B report on TaxJar (if the California system prompts you to file Schedule B). 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 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. Your TaxJar California state report provides these numbers to you already rounded so all you have to do is enter the number shown in your California sales tax filing.

When you’re finished, all of the taxes input should amount to 1% of your “sales subject to state and local tax”.

What if your numbers don’t quite match? This can happen due to rounding. Read more about how rounding can cause your sales tax filings to be a few cents or dollars off here.

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.

TaxJar California Schedule A Report

10) Fill out Schedule A. Click “District Tax” on the main California sales tax filing page to find Schedule A. Use the amounts from the highlighted column “Sales Subject to District Tax” (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 with Schedule B, TaxJar has rounded these amounts up or down to the nearest dollar amount so all you have to do is transfer the numbers from TaxJar to your California sales tax filing.

Once again, due to rounding, the numbers may be up to a few dollars off.

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

11)  Detail any excess tax collected. 

Check your work! Once you have filled out your California sales tax filing completely, the “Remaining Tax Due” at the bottom of your California sales tax filing should match within a few dollars of your “Expected Sales Tax Due” on your TaxJar California report.

Watch for exceptions. Some districts might be listed twice. This could be because the tax rate in that area may have changed during the taxable period.  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.

12) Enter Preparer Information, and then click next. 

13) Verify the information on the summary pages. 

14) Submit your return and then follow the instructions to pay your sales tax. Be sure to save and print a copy of your return!

Make your payment and save a copy of your receipt! 

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

Never want to do that again? We don’t blame you. Sign up for TaxJar AutoFile and have us file and pay your California sales tax returns for you. Learn more about TaxJar AutoFile here!

Start your 30 day free trial of TaxJar. No credit card required.