October 1, 2017

Board of Equalization is Restructuring to Better Serve Taxpayers

Due to the signature of a new law, the Taxpayer Transparency and Fairness Act of 2017, the once powerful California Board of Equalization (BOE) has been pared down to only its constitutional duties. The majority of the BOE’s tax collection duties and staff have been transferred to a brand new agency, the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA). Another new agency, the Office of Tax Appeals, (OTA) will be in service at the beginning of 2018.

What does this mean to California taxpayers? While officially the government agency has changed, the change has occurred in name only. For now all taxpayer accounts, filing deadlines and forms remain the same. The CDTFA has adopted an informational website www.cdtfa.ca.gov, which links back to the www.boe.ca.gov website for official taxpayer related activity.

Originally established by constitutional amendment in 1879, the BOE was formed to ensure property tax assessment practices were uniform throughout the State of California. The BOE responsibilities increased to include the administration and collection of sales, use , property, alcohol and insurance taxes as well as hearing taxpayer appeals cases for all taxes including income and franchise taxes. The pared down BOE will continue to administer and collect property, alcoholic beverage, and insurance taxes. Until the start of 2018, the BOE will also continue to hear tax appeals cases.

The CDTFA is responsible for the administration and collection of most taxes and fees previously collected by the BOE, including sales, use, and excise tax. The CDTFA is part of the Government Operations Agency.

The OTA is a new independent agency headed by government appointees rather than elected officials to hear taxpayer appeals cases. Panels of administrative judges will be positioned around the state and will report to a director appointed by Governor Brown. The new OTA will be operational January 1, 2018.

Taxpayers should expect gradual announcements and correspondence related to the changes over the course of 2017.