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How to appeal a sales tax audit or penalty in California

In California, the Board of Equalization will frequently audit business sales tax returns and may issue penalties or punishments for tardy filing, incorrect reporting, willful omissions, or other violations. Penalties can range from fines to revocation of your sales tax permit depending on the infraction.

If you disagree with a penalty or ruling made by the California Board of Equalization, you have several options you can pursue in appealing their decision. This page contains basic guidelines for appealing to the Board of Equalization, to an administrative appeal body, and through the courts.

Sales Tax Statute of Limitations in California

In sales tax law, the "statute of limitations" is the maximum amount of time state authorities have to investigate and begin potential audit or prosecution related to a a filed California sales tax return in the event of underpayment, incorrect reportings, etc. The Board of Equalization cannot begin an audit or issue a penalty after this timeframe.

The statute of limitations in California is three years from the later of either end of the calendar month directly after the quarterly period in which the assessment applies to, or the return filing due date. If no return was filed at all, then three years from the end of the calendar month directly after the quarterly period becomes eight.


Appealing to the Board of Equalization in California

If you do not agree with a penalty or decision made by the California Board of Equalization, you have the right to file an appeal and ask for reconsideration. In the case of a department appeal, an official petition for redetermination must be completed with the State Board of Equalization less than thirty days after the service of notice of deficiency assessment

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Administrative Sales Tax Appeals in California

This state has no administrative appeal body

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Judicial Sales Tax Appeals in California

If all other appeal avenues fail, businesses can make a final appeal in the state court system. When working with judicial appeals, the suit must be filed in a court of competent jurisdiction in a city or county where the Attorney General has an office within ninety days of mailing of notice of Board's action



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