Cigarette Tax Online Filing Program

The Cigarette Tax Online Filing Program is offered to provide a more convenient method of filing cigarette tax forms (returns, reports and schedules) and paying amounts owed.

This page contains the general instructions needed to file cigarette tax forms online with the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration's Cigarette Tax Online Filing Program. It also contains file type and formatting requirements, sample Excel workbooks for creating schedule/transaction files, and other useful information related to cigarette tax online filing. The information on this page is designed to provide the rules, procedures, and technical requirements for online filing used by Information Providers (CDTFA licensees and registrants) and Software Developers, collectively referred to as Online Participants. Participants are responsible for complying with the information provided on this page and any supplemental communication provided by the CDTFA.

Eligible Forms for Cigarette Tax Online Filing

Cigarette Distributors

Cigarette Manufacturers

Cigarette Tax Online Filing Guide

The Cigarette Tax Online Filing Guide contains general instructions needed to file cigarette tax forms online.

Online Payments

Cigarette Tax Online Filing Program participants are encouraged to make online payments for any amounts due.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Frequently asked questions and topics of interest to Cigarette Tax Online Filing Program participants.

File a Cigarette Tax Form Online

Filing a cigarette tax form online is straightforward:

  1. Login on the CDTFA's secure website as a Registered User or using your Express Login code.
  2. Select the account and period for which you want to submit an online filing,
  3. Complete the online tax form and attach your supporting schedule/transaction file,
  4. Select "Continue."
  5. Follow the screen prompts to complete the submission process.

Schedule/Transaction File Templates

The CDTFA has developed Microsoft Excel workbooks for each tax form accepted online. The workbook converts schedule/transaction records entered on a worksheet into a FLT "flat" file format. Though these workbooks may be used to create valid FLT files, they are intended as examples for reference only. The CDTFA does not endorse the Microsoft Excel product, nor does it accept liability for any problems resulting from the online submitting of a file created from the workbook. The CDTFA's Excel workbook may be used without a complete understanding of the FLT file format; and CDTFA staff is available for assistance.

Account Type and Return/Report Excel
(CD) Cigarette Distributor's Tax Report Excel
(CM) Cigarette Manufacturer's Tax Return of Taxable Distributions in California Excel

Optional Electronic File Testing Process

The information required for cigarette tax reporting is more detailed than many tax forms at the CDTFA. For this reason, the Cigarette Tax Online Filing Program offers its participants an optional electronic file testing process. Testing can be done to ensure you are able to submit valid electronic files online to the CDTFA. It provides a safe environment where mistakes can be made and resolved and you can become comfortable with online filing without affecting your actual returns. During the testing process, you will work with CDTFA staff and once you are ready, staff will authorize you to begin filing actual returns online.

Please note: During the testing process, you must continue to file your actual returns using your current return filing method. Returns submitted during this testing process are only "practice filings" and do not fulfill your return filing obligation.

Steps for Electronic File Testing

Electronic file testing is composed of multiple steps. The testing process may be repeated until both you and the CDTFA are comfortable that you are able to submit valid electronic files online to the CDTFA. The CDTFA recommends that you use actual data from current periods to create the test file(s).

  • Contact Special Taxes and Fees via email and notify us that you wish to initiate the electronic file testing process. You must complete and submit Form, CDTFA-82 Authorization for Electronic Transmission of Data, with your email notification. The CDTFA-82 authorizes the CDTFA to communicate online filing matters to you via email.
  • Log in and submit a return for the account you are testing. You may only submit electronic test files until CDTFA has authorized you to begin filing actual returns online. Remember to flag your transaction files as "Test."

Based on the results of your test file submission, the CDTFA will authorize you to file actual returns online or ask you to resolve identified reporting issues and submit a corrected test file.

Once you have successfully completed file testing, you will be authorized to begin filing your actual tax forms online.

For details on electronic file testing, refer to Chapter 6 in the Cigarette Tax Online Filing Guide. Refer to the FLT file specifications for the syntax requirements of the schedule/transaction files.

Cigarette Tax Online Filing Program Glossary

The Cigarette Tax Online Filing Program Glossary is a compilation of cigarette tax, Internet, and electronic filing terms provided for reference.

Cigarette Tax Reporting Information

Note: Transportation Mode Codes, Schedule Codes, and Units of Measure can be found in CDTFA-810-CTE, Instructions for Preparing Cigarette and Tobacco Schedules

Electronic File Format Examples

These examples are intended to illustrate how a tax form would be reported online to the CDTFA. Provided below, for each tax form eligible to be filed with the Cigarette Tax Online Filing Program, is an example of a completed Excel workbook used to create the schedule/transaction files.

Account Type Excel Workbook
(CD) Cigarette Distributor's Tax Report Excel
(CM) Cigarette Manufacturer's Tax Return of Taxable Distributions in California Excel

Confidentiality Statement

The Cigarette Tax Online Filing Program adheres to all confidentiality procedures and requirements set forth by the CDTFA. The CDTFA's form CDTFA-324-GEN, Annual Privacy Notice – No Action Needed provides information on the CDTFA's confidentiality procedures and requirements.

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