Filing a State Income Tax Return

The State of California (through the Franchise Tax Board) requires an annual report of income, and assesses tax on the same type of income that is taxed by the federal government. However, unlike the federal government, California does not require an annual tax report from those who made less than the minimum filing requirement or had no income at all. Individuals who earned less than the minimum filing requirement do not have to file. For more information, visit the California Franchise Tax Board Filing Requirements section: CA residents or Part-year residents and nonresidents.

If you do not have a filing requirement but had state taxes withheld from your income, you will need to file a California tax return in order to receive any refund.

If you made income in another state and would like to know about that state's filing requirements, please click here.

Workshop: California State Income Tax Filing

Attend one of the workshops during March or April to learn about the California state's filing requirements. A member of the California Franchise Tax Board will present these workshops to assist with filing any required state tax forms. We recommend completing one's federal tax return before attending one of these workshops. Students or scholars who are considered nonresidents for California state tax filing will complete and file California Tax Form 540NR; those who are considered residents for California state tax filing will complete and file California Tax Form 540.

Save the 2024 online workshop date below: 

  • Wednesday, March 13th | 2 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. | Register HERE

Resources from the workshops

CA FTB Power Point Presentation

CA FTB 540NR Step by Step Example

2023 Supplemental Resources

Resources – California Franchise Tax Board Website

Part-year resident and nonresident – Information from our CA Franchise Tax Board

540NR Booklet – Tax Return Forms and Instructions

540NR - California Nonresident or Part-Year Resident Income Tax Return (fillable) – Tax Return

540 NR California Adjustments — Nonresidents or Part-Year Residents (fillable) – Schedule to determine Total Income and Deductions and California Source Income and Deductions

Residency and Sourcing Technical Manual


IRS Publication 4011 – Foreign Student and Scholar Resource Guide