Tax Evasion Complaints – Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why should I file a tax evasion complaint?
  2. What information should I provide?
  3. Is there a monetary reward for reporting a tax crime?
  4. Will I be updated on the status of my complaint?
  5. Can I report tax evasion and remain anonymous?
  6. What are some signs which may indicate sales tax evasion?
  7. What are some signs which may indicate fuel tax evasion?
  8. What are some signs which may indicate cigarette tax evasion?
  9. What are some signs which may indicate tobacco products tax evasion?
  10. Where and how can I file a tax evasion complaint?

  1. Why should I file a tax evasion complaint?

    Tax evasion is a crime that hurts all of us. Tax evasion decreases the revenue available to fund essential state and local services. These services include funds for police and fire departments, highway improvements, libraries, schools, parks, hospitals, courts and more. Evasion also hurts the honest business owner as a result of unfair competition by those illegally selling untaxed products.

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  2. What information should I provide?

    Be as specific as possible. Include the who, what, how, where and when and as many details as possible in your complaint. Whenever possible please include:

    1. The suspected tax violation.
    2. Full name of the suspect.
    3. Suspect's home address and phone number.
    4. Suspect's corporation or business name.
    5. Suspect's business address, phone number, and years in business.
    6. Suspect's profession or job title and years at the job.
    7. Suspect's social security number or federal identification number.
    8. Suspect's bank name, address and account number if known.
    9. Vehicle ownership – plate number, make, model, color and location where vehicle is kept overnight.
    10. Cigarette/tobacco products evasion: cigarette or tobacco product brands (e.g. Marlboro, Newport, etc.); tax stamp on pack of cigarettes (e.g. counterfeit California stamp, other state stamp, or no tax stamp); location where the cigarettes or tobacco products are stored (under the counter, behind a door, warehouse, etc.).
    11. Does the store have a current Sellers Permit?
    12. Is the suspect involved in any other criminal activities?
  3. Is there a monetary reward for reporting a tax crime?

    No. The Board of Equalization does not have funds for a reward program at this time. However, by stopping tax evasion you will benefit from recovered revenue available to fund your public services.

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  4. Will I be updated on the status of my complaint?

    No. According to California confidentiality laws, the Board of Equalization cannot disclose the status of its investigations. However, you may submit additional information or supporting documentation regarding your complaint at any time.

  5. Can I report tax evasion and remain anonymous?

    Yes. If you wish to remain anonymous you should not give us your name or other identifying information when calling to file a complaint or when sending information. The Investigations Division will investigate all complaints, whether anonymous or not.

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  6. What are some signs which may indicate sales tax evasion?

    Common signs of sales tax evasion include:

    • Sellers who brag about not reporting sales to the government.
    • Sellers who do not or will not issue receipts.
    • Sellers who do not ring up purchases on a cash register or write up receipts, especially at retail stores.
    • Sellers whose prices seem unusually low—"too good to be true."
  7. What are some signs which may indicate fuel tax evasion?

    Common signs of fuel tax evasion include:

    • Numerous fuel spills at a location where unlawful blending may take place.
    • Fuel deliveries taking place when a service station is not open—usually late at night or early in the morning.
    • Deliveries by vehicles other than fuel tanker trucks or by tanker trucks with out-of-state licenses.
    • Service stations that are selling fuel at significantly lower prices than competitors.
    • Dyed (red) diesel fuel spilled at a highway accident scene.

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  8. What are some signs which may indicate cigarette tax evasion?

    Common signs of cigarette tax evasion include:

    • Cigarette packages that do not include the Surgeon General's health warning.
    • Unstamped cigarette packages (every pack of cigarettes sold in California must have a tax stamp affixed to it)
    • Cigarettes labeled "U.S. Tax Exempt for Use Outside the U.S.," or similar language.
    • Cigarettes being sold for significantly lower prices than those in other stores.
    • Imported cigarette packages that do not have a California cigarette tax stamp affixed to them.
  9. What are some signs which may indicate tobacco products tax evasion?

    Common signs of tobacco products tax evasion include:

    • Tobacco products such as cigars and chewing tobacco being sold for significantly lower prices than those in other nearby stores.
    • A sale of tobacco products where a significant discount is offered for cash and no receipt is given.

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  10. Where and how can I file a tax evasion complaint?

    There are several ways to file a tax evasion complaint.

    1. You may call our Tax Evasion Hotline at 1-888-334-3300.
    2. You may call our Investigations Division at 1-916-324-0105.
    3. You may fax your complaint to us at 1-916-324-1578.
    4. You may submit your complaint online (anonymously, if preferred); or
    5. You may write to us at:
      Investigations Division, MIC:42
      State Board of Equalization
      PO Box 942879
      Sacramento, CA 94279-0042