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How to File California Tax Returns That Are Overdue by Several Years


Locate the California income tax return form for the tax year(s) you need to file. Forms are located on the California Franchise Tax Board website under the Forms and Publications tab, located at the top of the homepage.


Print the forms for the years needed, along with the instructions for each year. Use the instructions to calculate your income taxes for the year(s) in question. Attach copies of any 1099s and/or W2 statements to your signed and completed tax forms.


Mail your tax returns to the addresses listed on the instructions for each form. If your returns show tax due include a check in the amount of the tax due made payable to the California Franchise Tax Board and mail it with your income taxes. Calculate your penalties by adding five percent of the amount of your taxes due for each month your return is late. If you calculate incorrectly the CFTB will mail you a bill for the additional tax owed to them.

Tips and Warnings

  • If your return is more than three years late and you show a refund owed, you will not receive your refund. The CFTB only issues refunds to taxpayers that file before their returns are three tax years late.
  • Obtain copies of prior year returns by calling the CFTB at 800-338-0505 and requesting the forms be mailed to you.

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