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California's Enterprise Zones Wage Credit

In our June 2009 issue of Tax News we asked the question, "Are you familiar with California’s Enterprise Zones?"

We now ask, "Are you aware some taxpayers who work in an Enterprise Zone may be entitled to a credit for the wages they earned?"

The Enterprise Zone tax incentive programs were created to help local businesses, and encourage outside businesses to locate in economically depressed areas. Also, the programs have a provision that allows low income individuals working within an Enterprise Zone to claim a credit that may help eliminate their California tax liability.

The Enterprise Zone Employee Credit is five percent of the wages attributable to employment within an enterprise zone up to $10,500. The maximum credit per zone is $525. The Enterprise Zone Employee Credit is reduced by nine cents ($0.09) for every dollar the taxpayer receives in excess of $10,500 and any unused credit is lost (no carryover is allowed).

The Enterprise Zone Employee Credit is claimed on form FTB 3553 and the taxpayer must file a Form 540 or the Long Form 540NR to claim this credit. The Enterprise Zone Employee Credit can only be used to offset the tax attributable to employment within the enterprise zone. If a taxpayer earned wages in more than one zone, a separate form FTB 3553 is needed for each zone.

The following business-related tax incentives are also potentially available to a taxpayer doing business in an Enterprise Zone, so you may want to see if your clients are doing business within one of the state’s many Enterprise Zones.

  • Hiring credit.
  • Sales or use tax credit.
  • Business expense deduction.
  • Net interest deduction for lenders.

Enterprise Zone tax incentives apply only to business activities and investments that take place in an Enterprise Zone that has received final designation.

While these Enterprise Zone incentives have been around for quite some time, there have been recent changes to the zones.

For a listing of all Enterprise Zones, expired, active and conditional, or to check if any of your clients work or have a business located within an Enterprise Zone, go to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) website at

For more information on the Enterprise Zone incentives and the Enterprise Zone Employee Credit, please call our Enterprise Zone Hotline at 916.845.3464.

Back to January 2010 Tax News