Direct Transmit Program – Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Direct Transmit?
- Who can be a Direct Transmitter?
- If I am a Tax Professional or a tax or fee payer using software developed by another company, can I be a Direct Transmitter?
- I am a Tax Professional or a tax or fee payer using software developed by a Software Developer that is already a certified Direct Transmitter with the BOE. Do I have to submit an application?
- I am a Tax Professional or tax or fee payer using my own software and I possess the knowledge to update my software with the BOE defined XML Schemas (see FAQ 9). Can I be a Direct Transmitter?
- How is return data transmitted?
- What is SOAP?
- What is XML?
- What is an XML Schema?
- How do I become a Direct Transmitter?
- What happens after I submit my application?
- What does being certified mean?
- What if I am not certified?
- Once certified, how often do I need to be recertified?
- Can I lose my certification?
- If I am certified as a Tax Professional, am I also certified as an ERO?
- Does the BOE offer batch processing?
- When can I transmit a return?
- What accounts are eligible for Direct Transmit?
- What are the filing requirements?
- How do I remit payment on a direct filed return?
- How do I know the transmittal was successful?
- Can I file an amended return?
- Can I cancel a return or payment after I submitted it?
- Can I file a credit return?
- Who do I contact for technical support?
What is Direct Transmit?
Direct Transmit allows a certified participant to transmit tax and fee data electronically using a variety of software or web applications without requiring data to be entered manually in the BOE's online filing system.
Who can be a Direct Transmitter?
- A Tax Professional transmitting return data on behalf of clients.
- A Software Developer providing software that allows clients to transmit return data directly to the BOE.
- A tax or fee payer transmitting return data on their own behalf.
- An Electronic Return Originator (ERO) transmitting return data on behalf of clients through a web-based interface.
If I am a Tax Professional or a tax or fee payer using software developed by another company, can I be a Direct Transmitter?
No. You must contact your software provider and inform them of this program so they may provide this service to you. If they choose to participate in the program, they will be the Direct Transmitter filing returns on your behalf.
I am a Tax Professional or a tax or fee payer using software developed by a Software Developer that is already a certified Direct Transmitter with the BOE. Do I have to submit an application?
I am a Tax Professional or tax or fee payer using my own software and I possess the knowledge to update my software with the BOE defined XML Schemas (see FAQ 9). Can I be a Direct Transmitter?
How is return data transmitted?
Return data is transmitted using Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP). Tax or fee data is transmitted from your computer or website via a web service directly to the BOE. The software and/or web applications you use must be developed to generate the SOAP request according to the BOE defined XML Schemas.
What is SOAP?
SOAP is a protocol specification for exchanging structured information in the implementation of web services. It relies on XML as its message format.
What is XML?
Extensible Markup Language (XML) allows independent systems to share information via the Internet. XML is merely used to structure, store, and transport data. The BOE provides the XML Schema and transmission methods for the data; however, it will be the responsibility of the Direct Transmitter to update software or web applications to create the XML documents.
What is an XML Schema?
An XML Schema defines the building blocks for an XML document (return data) at a high level. It provides the definitions of the structure, content, and semantics of XML documents that are shared between a Direct Transmitter and the BOE.
How do I become a Direct Transmitter?
You must complete and submit the Application for Direct Transmission of Tax Returns. You will also have to successfully pass testing requirements in order to be certified as a Direct Transmitter.
What happens after I submit my application?
Once you have successfully completed all system tests, you will be certified to be a Direct Transmitter. The certification process is indicated below.
- BOE receives your application.
- You will receive an email informing you, if you have not already done so, to update your software or website with the BOE defined XML Schemas.
Note: Direct Transmitters are expected to have a working knowledge of XML in order to be certified. The BOE will not provide technical support for updating your software or website.
- Development Testing:
- Once you are ready to test your software or web applications, you must email the eServices Coordinator requesting test information. You will receive an email response containing a test URL, user ID, and password, which you may use to begin transmitting test returns. Once you have successfully transmitted test returns without receiving errors, you may continue to system testing.
Note: It is recommended that you transmit multiple returns to adequately test your software or web applications. You should transmit as many return scenarios (i.e. zero gross sales, credit return, schedules, split rates, all district taxes, etc) as possible to ensure that your software and web applications can handle all reporting situations that are applicable for you or your clients.
- When you are ready to begin system testing, you must email the eServices Coordinator requesting a test account number for the applicable test scenarios associated with the desired certification level. Each test scenario requires you to duplicate and transmit the return data successfully without errors and with the correct computations.
- After you receive a confirmation number for the first test scenario, email the eServices Coordinator requesting the test account number for the subsequent test. The BOE will review the results of the transmittal to ensure the return data was transmitted correctly before providing a test account number for the subsequent test.
- When all test scenarios have been completed successfully, the BOE will email you indicating you are certified to be a Direct Transmitter. A permanent URL, user ID, and password will be provided to transmit return data and payments on an actual basis.
The BOE has “certified” the Direct Transmitter has demonstrated the capability of transmitting the correct return information and required data at the time of testing. It does not mean the BOE supports or provides validity to the product or services offered by a Direct Transmitter. The BOE does not support any one Direct Transmitter and Direct Transmitters should not misrepresent the BOE’s position on this matter.
If you are not certified, you will not be able to file returns using Direct Transmit. You, and/or your clients, must continue to file returns as required by the BOE. Tax or fee payers should consider utilizing the BOE's online filing system.
Once you are certified to transmit return data using Direct Transmit, you generally will not have to be recertified unless changes to the XML Schemas are made.
A Direct Transmitter may be decertified from the program for many reasons (i.e. continuously transmitting returns with errors, failing to adhere to the rules and requirements of the program, etc). Once you lose certification you will not be able to directly transmit return data.
A Direct Transmitter is only certified to participate in the program(s) as requested on the original application. If you would like to extend your services, you may have to submit another application. If a Direct Transmitter begins providing software or extends services to a web-based interface, a separate application must be submitted.
The BOE’s system operates on a transactional basis and currently does not offer batch processing. Your software can be developed to feed the return data to the BOE’s web service on a continuous basis one filing at a time. For each return successfully transmitted, the BOE will immediately send a confirmation number.
Direct Transmitters may submit return data from any location directly to the BOE at any time after the reporting period has ended. The BOE’s system is unavailable for regularly scheduled maintenance from Sunday at 7:00 p.m. to Monday at 5:00 a.m., Pacific Time.
Most Sales and Use Tax accounts are eligible for Direct Transmit; however, there are a few accounts that are not eligible. Currently, Direct Transmit is not available for other tax programs and fees administered by the BOE.
Return data transmitted via Direct Transmit must include all the information and schedules as required by the BOE and must also be filed by the required due dates in order to be considered timely.
Direct Transmitters (including EFT accounts required to make ACH Debit or Credit payment) may submit an ACH Debit payment in the transmittal with the return data. The XML Schemas provide the specifications. For return data filed by Direct Transmit, payment should be made in full and must be made electronically (check payments are not allowed).
Payments made by EFT ACH Credit are electronic transactions initiated by the tax or fee payer through their financial institution. EFT ACH Credit accounts have the option to make an ACH Debit payment with the return data or payment can be made separately from the transmittal. Additional information regarding EFT ACH Credit payments may be found at www.boe.ca.gov/elecsrv/eft.htm.
Credit card payments may be made over the phone or Internet separate from the transmittal. A service fee of 2.3% of the payment amount will be charged by the credit card processing vendor, Official Payments Corporation. This service fee is retained by the vendor and is not revenue to the BOE. The minimum fee is $1.00. Payments may be called in to 1-855-292-8931 or made over the Internet by visiting www.officialpayments.com.
You will receive a confirmation number immediately, which indicates the transmittal was received by the BOE. A return is not filed until a confirmation number is returned to you by the BOE. If the transmittal was rejected, the return must be retransmitted.
Amended returns cannot be sent by Direct Transmit and should be mailed to the BOE for further processing. Tax or fee payers may provide the correct figures on a paper return, which can be downloaded from the BOE website, or on any confirmation pages provided by your software or website and write “Amended Return” across the top. Tax or fee payers should include any additional payment owed with the amended return. If the amended return results in an overpayment, the tax or fee payer should complete a Claim for Refund form. Mail all documents to the following address:
Return Analysis Section, MIC: 35
P.O. Box 942879
Sacramento, CA 94279-0035
Returns and ACH Debit payments may be cancelled while transmittals are in pending status. Pending transmittals have not been processed by the BOE. You must contact the Customer Service Center at 1-800-400-7115 (TTY:711), (Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Pacific Time) immediately to cancel returns and payments still pending. Once the transmittal is cancelled, the Direct Transmitter may then retransmit the return or payment information. If a return cannot be cancelled, you must submit an amended return.
Returns resulting in a credit or overpayment may be sent by Direct Transmit. A Claim for Refund form must be mailed to the BOE in order for the credit to be processed and refunded. Claims may be mailed to the following address:
Refund Section, MIC: 39
P.O. Box 942879
Sacramento, CA 94279-0039
The BOE does not provide assistance in developing your software or website to create XML. Furthermore, it is expected that you have a working knowledge of XML to participate in the Direct Transmit program. For assistance on general information, you may contact the eServices Coordinator.