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Tax News
Notes from the Tax Practitioner Stakeholder Specialist

Filing season underway

That time of year is here! For many of you the crunch may not have started yet, but we at FTB have been working overtime to get ready for all those returns. A few things worth mentioning:

Error on the Schedule CA printed form - An error on a printed California tax form may lead some California taxpayers who file paper returns to understate their home mortgage interest deductions. The error is on early versions of Schedule CA (540), California Adjustments. This should not be a problem for practitioners, since most file electronically, and FTB updated its online forms and notified tax software developers when the error was discovered in December.

Mortgage Debt Forgiveness may be taxable in California - California does not automatically conform to the "Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007" signed by the President on December 20, 2007. In order for the provisions of this act to apply to California, the legislature must enact conforming legislation. There is pending California legislation, Senate Bill 1055, which will provide modified conformity to provisions of this federal legislation. FTB will provide further information in the event this legislation is enacted. See the related article in this issue of Tax News, and check our Website under "law and legislation" for updates.

Changes on the horizon

Beginning January 2008, Franchise Tax Board has a new Taxpayer Advocate, Steve Sims, EA. Steve has been with Franchise Tax Board for 25 years where he has worked as an auditor, collections supervisor, and most recently manager of the Department’s Education and Outreach Section. Education and Outreach is Steve’s passion and includes the tax practitioner liaison, small business liaisons, Tax News Publication, and the FTB Speakers’ Bureau. In his new role as the Advocate, Steve will try to identify developing trends relating to departmental problems by working with taxpayers and tax practitioner groups. He will also make recommendations for changes to departmental policies and practices to better enable taxpayers to meet their tax obligations. Finally, Steve will identify departmental policies and practices that create a burden for taxpayers and provide recommendations to reduce the burden. Steve will also continue to inform and educate practitioners by continuing as FTB’s main public speaker. We wish Steve the best in his new role as Taxpayer Advocate!

Editor’s note: Another change on the horizon is the temporary departure of FTB’s Tax Practitioner Stakeholder Specialist, Susan Maples. Susan will be on maternity leave for the next several months. Susan will have a back up filling in for her while she’s gone, so it should still seem like business as usual from your perspective. We will miss Susan, and wish her the best. We know she will enjoy spending time with her family, and the new little addition!