Legal Division

The Legal Division is comprised of the Appeals Bureau, Litigation Bureau, Tax and Fee Programs Bureau, Settlement and Taxpayer Services Bureau and Investigations and Special Operations Bureau. The members of the Division provide advice to taxpayers and to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration staff. The members of the Division also work on a variety of areas, including legislation, regulations, litigation, subpoenas, administrative tax appeals, settlements, offers in compromise, criminal tax evasion and fraud matters, bankruptcy, tax controversy, and personnel matters.

Tad Egawa, Chief Counsel
Adrianne Richardson, Administrative Assistant, 916-323-4170


The Appeals Bureau serves as the final level of review for the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration on appeals filed by taxpayers contesting business and special tax liabilities and/or local and district tax reallocations. The Appeals Bureau holds conferences to provide the taxpayers and the Business Tax and Fee Division an opportunity to set forth their contentions and provide additional information in support of their positions. At the conclusion of the information gathering stage, the Appeals Bureau issues an independent and impartial decision to address the facts and law presented in the case. Taxpayers who disagree with the Appeals Bureau's decision may request review of the decision by the Office of Tax Appeals.

Jefferson Vest, Assistant Chief Counsel
Shannon Haefner, Executive Assistant 916-323-3166

Dana Brown, Supervisor 916-445-6137

Lauren Katagihara, Supervisor 562-864-9405

Casey Tichy, Supervisor 916-323-9463

The Investigations Division administers the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration's (CDTFA) tax enforcement and criminal investigations program. The Division plans, organizes, directs, and controls all criminal investigative activities for the various tax programs administered by the CDTFA. Its goals are to deter tax evasion, identify new tax fraud schemes, and actively investigate and assist in the prosecution of crimes committed by individuals violating the laws enforced by the CDTFA.

Any person who intentionally evades the reporting, assessment or payment of cigarette or tobacco products taxes that would otherwise be due is guilty of cigarette or tobacco products tax evasion. And as of 2004, any retailer, wholesaler, or distributor of cigarettes and tobacco products and any manufacturer or importer of cigarettes that does not comply with the licensing requirements of the Cigarette and Tobacco Products Licensing Act (CTPLA) of 2003 may receive fines up to $5,000 per offense, imprisonment up to one year in county jail, or both fines and imprisonment.

Tax evasion hurts all of us by reducing the amount of revenue available for essential state and local services. Nearly 90% of the taxes collected on cigarettes and tobacco products are earmarked to fund important programs such as breast cancer research, health education, hospital and physician services, research, public resources, and county-run projects for child health and development.

Cigarette and tobacco products tax evasion also hurts the honest business owner. Unscrupulous sellers of untaxed cigarettes and tobacco products can undercut the prices charged by the legitimate businessperson. And evasion is accompanied by an increase in thefts, hijackings, cross-border smuggling, and other organized crimes.

Cigarette or tobacco products tax evasion includes such actions as:

  • Sale of unstamped cigarettes or untaxed tobacco products.
  • Intentionally importing tobacco products from outside the state without remitting the appropriate California State tobacco products taxes.
  • Sale of cigarettes with counterfeit or reused tax stamps.
  • Possessing, owning, storing or selling untaxed cigarettes or tobacco products (unless licensed as a distributor, manufacturer or importer).

Violations of the Cigarette and Tobacco Products Licensing Act of 2003 include such actions as:

  • Sale or distribution of cigarettes or tobacco products without a license.
  • Not obtaining and maintaining a valid license for each location selling cigarettes or tobacco products.
  • Not displaying your license in public view.
  • Not maintaining purchase or sales records, as required.
  • Refusing access of purchase or sales records to authorized inspectors or enforcement staff.
  • Selling cigarettes or tobacco products to individuals under 21 years of age (STAKE Act).
  • Selling cigarettes or roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco in California that are not listed in the California Tobacco Directory.

Resources

Under the California Revenue and Taxation Code, any person who intentionally evades the reporting, assessment or payment of fuel taxes that would otherwise be due is guilty of fuel tax evasion. Violators are subject to fines and/or jail time. See the Special Taxes and Fees webpage for current fuel tax rates.

Fuel tax evasion hurts honest businesses. Fuel can be sold at a lower price when the tax is not paid, which allows the seller to gain more customers and illegally earn increased profits. When fuel taxes are not paid, those dollars are not available for a variety of transportation uses; primarily for the construction and maintenance of our roads and highways.

Examples of fuel tax evasion include, but are not limited to:

  • Using dyed (untaxed) diesel fuel in a vehicle operated on California highways without being licensed to remit the tax.
  • Intentionally importing fuel from outside the state without remitting the appropriate California State fuel taxes.
  • Blending taxable fuel with an untaxed product to increase volume without paying tax on the increase.

Fuel tax evasion is bad for the environment. Illegally blended fuels can cause increased soil and air pollution. These result from poor combustion and contamination from toxic or waste chemicals used as blending agents. In addition, illegally blended fuels often cause increased engine wear and can lead to vehicle breakdowns.

Under the California Revenue and Taxation Code, any person who intentionally evades the reporting, assessment or payment of sales taxes that would otherwise be due is guilty of sales tax evasion. Violators are subject to fines and/or jail time.

Examples of sales tax evasion include, but are not limited to:

  • Retailers collect sales tax reimbursement from their customers on sales but intentionally fail to report and pay the tax collected.
  • Retailers intentionally fail to report all retail sales on which sales tax is due.

In general, retail sales of tangible personal property in California are subject to sales tax. The responsibility for paying the sales tax is upon the seller (retailer). The sales tax rate varies statewide; however, the statewide tax rate base is 7.25 percent. Sales taxes are higher in locations where voters have approved additional "district taxes." See the Sales and Use Tax Rates page to find the current sales tax rate for your location.

Sales tax supports a broad range of state services, from parks to prisons. In addition, sales tax is a major source of revenue for many cities and counties, which depend on the income for police and fire service, courts, roads, health care, and more. Tax evasion hurts all of us by reducing the amount of money available for these essential services, and honest businesses are placed in a competitive disadvantage by deceitful sellers who do not pay the tax they owe.

Public awareness and involvement are essential in eliminating tax evasion. To report suspected sales, fuel or cigarette and tobacco products tax evasion, contact the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration, Investigations Division at 1-916-324-0105 or the Tax Evasion Hotline at 1-888-334-3300. You may also submit a complaint online, by fax or mail. By law, all complaints are kept confidential unless a court orders otherwise.

There are several ways to report tax evasion:

  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).
  5. You may write to us at:
    Investigations Division, MIC:42
    California Department of Tax and Fee Administration
    PO Box 942879
    Sacramento, CA 94279-0042

When filing a complaint, please provide as much specific information as you can. Include who, what, where, how and when, with as many details as possible in your complaint. Whenever possible please include:

  1. The suspected tax evasion.
  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, location where car/van is kept overnight.
  10. For cigarette and tobacco products tax evasion: cigarette or tobacco products brands (e.g. Marlboro, Newport, etc.); tax stamp on pack of cigarettes (e.g. counterfeit stamp, California or 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 Seller's Permit or Cigarette and Tobacco Products License?
  12. Is the suspect involved in any other criminal activities?

California laws and regulations are administered and enforced by various state agencies. If you suspect a violation of law has occurred, it is important to report it to the correct agency responsible for the specific program at issue. The resource directory linked below will help you identify the proper agency.

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.

Be as specific as possible. Include the who, what, where, how and when, with 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 Seller's Permit?
  12. Is the suspect involved in any other criminal activities?

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.

No. The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration 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.

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

  • 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."

  • 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 California 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.

Robert Lambert, Assistant Chief Counsel 916-324-6593
Tamara Hupp, Associate Governmental Program Analyst 916-323-3253

The Litigation Bureau – Tax and Fee Litigation Section advises and represents the Department in litigation involving the taxes and fees that the Department collects. The Litigation Bureau – Administrative Programs Section represents the Department in litigation and administrative proceedings involving employment, labor, and civil rights matters. The Litigation Bureau – Bankruptcy and Collections Section advises and represents the Department in bankruptcy proceedings and state court collection litigation. The Litigation Bureau – Subpoena Section processes the Department's incoming and outgoing subpoenas.

Tax and Fee Litigation Section

Wendy Vierra, 916-323-3173

Administrative Programs Section

Sharon Brady Silva, 916-319-9615

Bankruptcy and Collections Section

Victoria C. Geary, 916-324-2637

Subpoena Section

Tamara Hupp, 916-323-3253

The Settlement and Taxpayer Services Bureau administers the Department's Administrative Settlement Program. Under this program, staff negotiate settlements of certain Sales and Use Tax and Special Tax and Fee cases consistent with a reasonable evaluation of the risks and costs of litigating those cases. To be eligible for this program, cases must be the subject of an appeal, protest or claim for refund. Additionally, the Bureau's Offers in Compromise Section considers and processes offers to compromise undisputed final tax or fee liabilities and requests for relief of liability under the Innocent Spouse and Equitable Relief provisions of the Revenue and Taxation Code. The Bureau also provides legal oversight and support on contract matters, responds to Public Records Act and Information Practices Act requests, as well as Exchange of Information requests, through its Disclosure Office, and provides advice on issues such as ethics and general conflict of interest-related issues, financial conflicts of interest under the Political Reform Act (including Conflict of Interest Code and Form 700 advice), education and outreach activities, exchange/disclosure agreements, and local tax revenue and allocation matters.

Amy Kelly, Assistant Chief Counsel

Settlement 916-324-2836
Katie Lien, Supervisor 562-863-2469
Cindy Chiu, Supervisor 916-323-3119
Chris Schutz, Tax Counsel IV 916-323-3103

Offers in Compromise 916-322-7931
Kimberly Willy, Supervisor 916-323-3078
Lei Anderson, Lead 916-322-2110

Attorneys in the Tax and Fee Programs Bureau advise taxpayers/feepayers, taxpayer/feepayer representatives, and city, county and state officials on various legal issues involving the tax and fee programs administered by the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA). These programs include, but are not limited to, Sales and Use Tax, Bradley-Burns Uniform Local Sales and Use Tax, Transactions and Use (District) Tax, Cigarette and Tobacco Products Tax, Cigarette and Tobacco Products Licensing, Cannabis Tax, Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax, Jet Fuel Tax, Underground Storage Tank Maintenance Fee, Use Fuel Tax, Diesel Fuel Tax, Oil Spill Response Prevention and Administration Fees, Energy Resources Surcharge, Emergency Telephone Users Surcharge, Prepaid Mobile Telephony Services Surcharge, Fire Prevention Fee, Hazardous Substances Taxes and Fees, Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Fee, Occupational Lead Poisoning Prevention Fee, Integrated Waste Management Fee, Lead-Acid Battery Fee, Lumber Products Assessment, California Tire Fee, Marine Invasive Species Fee, Natural Gas Surcharge, Covered Electronic Waste Recycling Fee, and Water Rights Fee. Attorneys in the Tax and Fee Programs Bureau also represent CDTFA in administrative hearings, help draft regulatory changes, and provide legal oversight and support to Investigations on matters involving tax evasion and fraud, including criminal tax law matters and implementation of the Cigarette and Tobacco Products Licensing Act of 2003.

Members of the public may request a legal opinion on tax and fee matters by submitting a request in writing. The specific facts and circumstances of the activity or transaction at issue should be fully described in the request for advice, as well as the question on those facts. Requests for advice should be submitted to: Mr. Robert Tucker, Assistant Chief Counsel, Tax and Fee Programs Bureau (MIC:82); California Department of Tax and Fee Administration; 450 N Street, P.O. Box 942879, Sacramento, CA 94279-0082.

Assistant Chief Counsel
Robert Tucker, 916-322-0437
Yuliya Gnedash, Associate Governmental Program Analyst 916-323-3088