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Instructions for California Tax Form 540


Download and print out form 540 from the California Franchise Tax Board website.


List your name, address, social security number and filing status at the top of the form.


Add up your total exemption amount by completing lines seven through 11. For lines seven through 10, will read the options and enter in the corresponding number in the square box. Multiply the number in the box by pre-printed dollar amount to get your total for each line. Then add up the lines for a grand total on line 11, which you must also put on line 32.


Use your W-2 forms and your completed federal tax return to complete lines 12 through 19. Just copy over the numbers from the forms that are listed on each line. When you get to line 19, you have to subtract line 18 from line 17 and list the total on this line. For a negative result, enter zero.


Refer to the Form 540 & 540A Instruction Booklet from the California Franchise Tax Board website to complete line 31. If your income on line 19 is $100,000 or under, you should refer to page 57 in the booklet for the tax table. If your income is more than $100,000 on line 19, you must use the tax rate schedule that is found on page 62 of the booklet.


Complete the tax section by subtracting the amount on line 32 from line 31 and placing the amount on line 33. For line 34, refer to page 11 of the booklet. Then add up the amounts on line 33 and line 34 for line 35.


Enter in any special credits that you may be eligible for on lines 41 through 48. You can refer to pages 11 and 12 in the booklet for the credit codes, amounts and qualifications.


Finish up the taxes part by entering in any other taxes you may be liable for in lines 61 through 74. If you have any children or dependents, you will enter them on lines 75 through 79. Tally up if you overpaid or underpaid your tax with lines 91 through 94.


Put an amount on line 95 only if you owe the use tax, which does not apply to everyone. The use tax worksheet is on page 14 of the booklet. Use tax is due when you have made an out-of-state purchase and did not pay tax in California.


Contribute to any of the funds listed in the "Contributions" section of the form. This is not a requirement and can be skipped over and left blank. Total up the contributions on line 110.


Add together lines 94, 95 and 110 to get a total amount due for line 111. If you have any interest due or other penalties, fill out lines 112 through 114. Complete line 115 if you do not owe or if you are due a refund. You can enter in your direct deposit details for a refund directly under line 115.


Sign and date the form before mailing it to the Franchise Tax Board. If you owe, send the form and payment to Franchise Tax Board, PO Box 942867, Sacramento, CA 94267-0001. If you do not owe, send the form to Franchise Tax Board, PO Box 942840, Sacramento, CA 94240-0002. These addresses are correct as of July 2010.

Tips and Warnings

  • Any page references by the lines on the form are referring to a page in the booklet.

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