Cigarette and Tobacco Products Online Filing

Cigarette Tax Uniformity Reporting – We are incorporating the Federation of Tax Administrators' (FTA) uniformity standards into cigarette tax reporting. Beginning with the May 2020 reporting period (due June 25, 2020), tax forms filed by cigarette manufacturers, importers, distributors, and wholesalers will include the FTA uniformity reporting standards. Important Note: Any information about Extensible markup language (XML) applies to cigarette tax reporting by cigarette manufacturers, importers, distributors, and wholesalers beginning with the May 2020 reporting period and after. Our webpages have been updated and noted in those areas as such to help you prepare for this upcoming transition.

Tobacco Products Reporting – UniformityComing soon!

Go paperless! File your cigarette and tobacco products tax forms online.

Online filing is a convenient method of filing cigarette and tobacco products tax forms (tax returns, informational reports, and schedules).

The type of online filing method used will depend on the type of cigarette and tobacco products tax form you are filing. See Online Filing Methods below for more information.

How to Use This Guide

The Guidelines section contains the general instructions, rules, procedures, and technical requirements to file cigarette and tobacco products tax forms online.

See the Filing Templates section for more information and to download schedule templates

The Resources and Filing FAQs sections provide references and other helpful information.

For more information about the tax and licensing obligations for retailers, wholesalers, distributors, manufacturers, importers, and consumers of cigarettes and tobacco products, see our Tax Guide for Cigarettes and Tobacco Products.

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  • No paper cigarette and/or tobacco products tax forms need to be manually completed and filed and no signature documents need to be completed and mailed.
  • No postage.
  • Faster processing.
  • Online security ensures confidentiality of data.
  • CDTFA acknowledges receipt of online filing.
  • Less physical file storage space required since data may be stored electronically.

Online filing uses the Internet to receive and transmit cigarette and tobacco products tax forms. Online filing incorporates technological attributes to ensure data security. You must also use security procedures that are reasonably sufficient to ensure that all transmissions of cigarette and tobacco products forms are authorized. You must take the necessary precautions to safeguard its technological attributes and notify the CDTFA when it has knowledge that its technological attributes have been compromised.

Depending on the type of filer you are, there are four basic methods to file cigarette and tobacco products tax forms online:

  • Flat (FLT) File Format

    A flat file or "FLT" file is a file in which data is formatted in plain-text, usually with some kind of delimiter (such as a tab, comma, etc.).

    • Requires a FLT file upload of transactional data that builds the return or report.
    • Available to cigarette manufacturers, importers, and distributors. Note: Available to cigarette wholesalers beginning with the May 2020 reporting period.
    • Available to tobacco products manufacturers/importers.
    • Templates for schedules are available. See Filing Templates section to download templates.
  • Extensible Markup Language (XML) – Note: Available beginning with the May 2020 reporting period.

    Extensible markup language (XML) is a simple text-based format for representing structured information.

    • Requires an XML file upload that builds the return or report.
    • Available to cigarette manufacturers, importers, distributors, and wholesalers.
  • Microsoft Excel
    • Requires an Excel spreadsheet file upload of transactional data.
    • Available to:
      • Cigarette common carriers.
      • PACT Act filers.
    • Templates for schedules are available. See the Filing Templates section to download templates.
  • PDF
    • A fillable Adobe Acrobat form used to enter transactional records.
    • Requires a PDF file attachment with completed transactional data.
    • Available to cigarette wholesalers and tobacco products distributors. Note: Available to cigarette wholesalers only for reporting periods April 2020 and prior. Beginning with the May 2020 reporting period, cigarette wholesalers will be required to complete a new schedule CDTFA-810-CTI, Cigarette Tax Receipt Schedule, and will be able to file online with a FLT or XML file.
    • Templates for schedules are available. See Filing Templates section to download templates.
  • Online Tax Form Filing
    • You complete tax forms directly online.
    • Allows you to submit schedules by uploading/attaching a file or enter transaction records individually.
    • Available to all cigarette and tobacco products filers.

Go to our Online Services login page and enter your Username and Password.

This section contains the general instructions, rules, procedures, and technical requirements to file cigarette and tobacco products tax forms online with us. When filing online, you are responsible for complying with the information provided on this page and any supplemental communication we provide you.

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Important Note: XML information has been incorporated into this guide to help you prepare and transition to the cigarette tax uniformity standards of reporting. Any information regarding XML is effective June 1, 2020, beginning with the May 2020 reporting period for cigarette tax reporting.

The Cigarette and Tobacco Products Flat (FLT) File and XML Filing Guide contains general plain text instructions needed to file cigarette and tobacco products tax forms with a FLT or XML file online with the CDTFA. Included in this guide are:

  • FLT file specifications, which cover all the necessary details for creating and formatting schedule/transaction files.
  • XML file standards, which can be found in the XML schema and cigarette XPath document.
  • File testing.
  • Example Excel file templates for creating FLT files.
  • Filing guidelines.
  • Other useful information related to cigarette and tobacco products online filing.

For Current Reporting Periods through April 2020

The CDTFA-810-CTE, Instructions for Preparing Cigarette Tax Schedules, provides detailed instructions for cigarette manufacturers/importers and distributors to complete the cigarette tax schedules listed below, regardless of filing method. It also contains charts displaying valid schedule codes, product codes, unit of measure (UOM) codes, and mode code combinations for each type of filer.

FTA Uniformity Version – For May 2020 Reporting Periods and After

To help you prepare for the transition to FTA uniformity standards, a future revised version of the CDTFA-810-CTE, Instructions for Preparing Cigarette Tax Schedules, is provided. This version includes FTA uniformity standards for cigarette tax reporting for manufacturers, importers, distributors, and wholesalers, and applies effective June 1, 2020, beginning with the May 2020 reporting period.

Cigarette Manufacturers

  • CDTFA-810-CTF, Cigarette Tax Disbursement Schedule

Cigarette Distributors/Importers

  • CDTFA-810-CTI, Cigarette Tax Receipt Schedule
  • CDTFA-810-CTF, Cigarette Tax Disbursement Schedule

Cigarette WholesalersImportant Note:Effective June 1, 2020, beginning with the May 2020 reporting period, wholesalers must file the following new schedule, which will replace PART 2 – Purchases of Cigarettes, of the CDTFA-501-CW, Cigarette Wholesaler's Return, and CDTFA-501-CWP2, PART 2 – Purchases of Cigarettes (stand-alone schedule used for online filing).

  • CDTFA-810-CTI, Cigarette Tax Receipt Schedule

For Current Reporting Periods through April 2020

The CDTFA-810-CTC, Postal Abbreviation Table, contains a list of valid postal abbreviations used to complete the origin and destination of product received from/delivered to.

FTA Uniformity Version – For May 2020 Reporting Periods and After

To help you prepare for the transition to FTA uniformity standards, a revised version of the CDTFA-810-CTC, Postal Abbreviation Table, is being provided. This version will apply effective June 1, 2020, beginning with the May 2020 reporting period.

The Cigarette and Tobacco Products Online Glossary is a compilation of cigarette and/or tobacco products tax, Internet, and online filing terms provided for your reference.

For Current Reporting Periods through April 2020

You are required to obtain and report the CDTFA account number or FEIN (Federal Employer Identification Number) of all persons involved in a reportable transaction. You are also required to furnish your CDTFA account number or FEIN upon request of another person involved in a reportable transaction. (For example, a cigarette or tobacco products distributor is required to obtain a manufacturer's CDTFA account number or FEIN when the manufacturer makes a delivery to the cigarette or tobacco products distributor.)

FTA Uniformity – For May 2020 Reporting Periods and After

You will be required to report the FEIN. You will no longer have the option to report the CDTFA account number. This includes all persons involved in a reportable transaction including you, the buyer, the seller, and the delivery service.

To be in compliance, upon request by the CDTFA, you must give the CDTFA access to all materials that support the preparation of your online filings.

An extension of up to one month may be granted to you upon request. If an extension to file and/or pay is needed, you must submit the request for extension online and provide the information required. Failure to make timely tax payments may result in interest and penalty charges.

Filing Templates

We have developed file templates designed to help you file cigarette and tobacco products tax forms online. You have the option to upload your information using these file templates when you complete your tax form online. You may download the applicable templates from the chart below. We accept schedules (transaction records) for each tax form in certain file formats such as flat (FLT) file, Excel, and Adobe Acrobat (PDF) when filing online.

Important Note: If you receive an error message when opening your template using our Online Services system, you may click “Yes” to open or switch your internet browser to Google Chrome to open the template and avoid this error message.

  • Flat (FLT) file templates allow you to:
    1. Enter transaction records on an Excel spreadsheet and save the Excel file to your computer;
    2. Convert the spreadsheet into a valid FLT file (a “.txt” file extension) and save the “.txt” file to your computer; and
    3. Upload the “.txt” file when filing online.
  • Excel file templates allow you to:
    1. Enter transaction records on a spreadsheet and save the Excel file to your computer; and
    2. Upload the XLS file when filing online.
  • PDF file templates allow you to:
    1. Enter information and transaction records directly on the form.
    2. Attach and submit the file online.
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Important Note: The new file templates that include cigarette tax uniformity changes are provided under reporting periods May 2020 and after. Download and use the appropriate file template based on the reporting period for which you are filing.

  • The applicable templates are available when you log in to file your return or report online.
  • Download the applicable file template.
  • Read the Instructions/General Information tab of the file before completing the template.
  • View our Online Services webpage and select the Tutorials tab to watch our “How To” videos.
TYPE OF FILER TAX FORM TAX FORM TITLE SCHEDULE SCHEDULE TITLE Reporting Periods April 2020 and Prior Reporting Periods May 2020 and After
FILE/TEMPLATE FORMAT FILE/TEMPLATE FORMAT
CIGARETTES
Cigarette Manufacturer/Importer CDTFA-501-CM Cigarette Manufacturer's Tax Return of Taxable Distributions in California CDTFA-810-CTF Cigarette Tax Disbursement Schedule FLT
Coming Soon!
FLT
Coming Soon!
Cigarette Distributor/Importer CDTFA-501-CD Cigarette Distributor/Importer Tax Report CDTFA-810-CTF Cigarette Tax Disbursement Schedule FLT
Coming Soon!
FLT
Coming Soon!
CDTFA-810-CTI Cigarette Tax Receipt Schedule
Cigarette Wholesaler CDTFA-501-CWP2 Cigarette Wholesaler's Return PART 2 Purchases of Cigarettes PDF FLT
Coming Soon!
Cigarette Common Carrier CDTFA-1071 Common Carriers Report of Cigarette Deliveries   XLS
Coming Soon!
TOBACCO PRODUCTS
Tobacco Products Manufacturer/Importer CDTFA-501-TIM Tobacco Products Manufacturer/Importer Return of Taxable Distributions of Samples in California CDTFA-501-MIT Schedule – Manufacturer/Importer Report of Nontaxable Sales of Tobacco Products FLT
Coming Soon!
Tobacco Products Distributor CDTFA-501-CT Tobacco Products Distributor Tax Return CDTFA-501-CTT Tobacco Schedule T PDF
CIGARETTES AND SMOKELESS TOBACCO PRODUCTS
PACT Act   PA-1 State CIGARETTE PACT ACT Report for [enter name of state] XLS
Coming Soon!
  PA-2 State TOBACCO PACT ACT Report for [enter name of state] XLS
Coming Soon!

Notes

* PDF documents will not function properly in all browsers. Please download the form and then open it in Adobe Acrobat reader.

** PACT Act filers may use the XLS template for reporting periods August 2019 and after.

The examples below are intended to illustrate how a tax form would be reported online to the CDTFA. The examples contain sample transaction records that you can use to see how the records are converted from an Excel file to a FLT file (with a “.txt” file extension) format.

Important Note: The new example file templates that include cigarette tax uniformity changes are being provided under reporting periods May 2020 and after. Please download and use the appropriate example file template.

TYPE OF FILER TAX FORM AND TITLE Reporting Periods April 2020 and Prior Reporting Periods May 2020 and After
EXAMPLE TEMPLATE EXAMPLE TEMPLATE
Cigarette Distributor/Importer CDTFA-501-CD, Cigarette Distributor/Importer Tax Report CDTFA-501-CD Example CDTFA-501-CD Example
Cigarette Manufacturer /Importer CDTFA-501-CM, Cigarette Manufacturer's Tax Return of Taxable Distributions in California CDTFA-501-CM Example CDTFA-501-CM Example
Cigarette Wholesaler CDTFA-501-CW, Cigarette Wholesaler's Report N/A CDTFA-501-CW Example

The CDTFA will only accept tax forms in CDTFA-acceptable electronic formats transmitted via the Internet. No magnetic tape filing or data stored on a floppy diskette will be accepted.

You may develop your own filing solution or purchase off-the-shelf file translation software for preparation of your tax information. The CDTFA is not responsible for software-related problems. All software problems should be directed to the vendor from whom the software was purchased.

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Cigarette and tobacco products online filing adheres to all confidentiality procedures and requirements set forth by the CDTFA. Personal information, such as a driver license number, a social security number, or a residence address, is not disclosed to the public. However, some records are subject to disclosure. These include CDTFA license or permit numbers, business name and address, and license status. For purposes of enforcing the cigarette and tobacco products tax and licensing laws, personal information may be disclosed to federal agencies and other state agencies. Please review CDTFA-324-GEN, Annual Privacy Notice – No Action Needed, for information on the CDTFA's confidentiality procedures and requirements.

Form CDTFA-82, Authorization for Electronic Transmission of Data, authorizes the CDTFA to communicate online matters with you via email. It is essential to successful cigarette and tobacco products online filing. Submit a completed Authorization for Electronic Transmission of Data via fax, email, or mail to:

Fax: 1-916-323-9352

Email: CDTFACTeFile@cdtfa.ca.gov

Mail: California Department of Tax and Fee Administration
Special Taxes and Fees
P.O. Box 942879
Sacramento, CA 94279-0030

Tax form data and payments transmitted must be received by the CDTFA in the required format and by the associated due dates in order to be considered timely. While the CDTFA strives to ensure the online filing system is available at all times, there are situations which may occur and interfere with a transmittal. It is your responsibility to file tax forms and make payments to the CDTFA by the required due dates. A complete listing of due dates is provided on the CDTFA's website.

If the system is unavailable or transmittals are rejected, you are still responsible for filing your tax forms and submitting payment to the CDTFA by the required due date and time. The following situations may occur which may affect the timely filing of tax forms and payments.

  • Scheduled Maintenance – The system may become unavailable while the CDTFA performs routine maintenance on the online filing system. Prior to this time, you will be notified of the time frame of the expected system outage.
  • Rejected Transmittals – Once the CDTFA receives a tax form or payment, a confirmation of filing or an error code/message will be sent to you immediately.

    You must receive a confirmation number on or before the due date and time in order for the return or payment to be considered timely. A confirmation number will not be returned for rejected transmittals. If you do not receive a confirmation number, the tax form and payment must be retransmitted. A tax form or payment may be rejected in the case of system errors or if required information was omitted or not in the required format.

  • System Problems and Unscheduled Emergency Maintenance – System problems and unscheduled emergency maintenance will impact availability to the online filing system. Known problems are indicated on the CDTFA's website at www.cdtfa.ca.gov/services/eft.htm. You should verify if any information was posted on the CDTFA's website at www.cdtfa.ca.gov before contacting the eServices Coordinator. If messages have not been posted, contact the eServices Coordinator by telephone or email to inform the CDTFA about any system errors encountered. The CDTFA strives to ensure that all known system problems are corrected in an efficient manner. The CDTFA strives to ensure that all known system problems are corrected in an efficient manner.
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Online filing is a web-based application that allows users to view, modify, and submit tax filings (tax returns, reports, and claims for refund) online.

Online filing is free, fast, easy, convenient, and accurate. All you need is a computer and access to the Internet. You do not need to leave your home or office to file. You will receive confirmation that your return, schedule, and payment information has been accepted for processing and if tax is due, you do not need to write a check, funds can be transferred electronically.

Online filing of tax information includes the following advantages:

  • No paper tax forms to fill out and no signature documents to be completed and mailed.
  • No postage expenses are incurred.
  • Ability to file outside normal business hours.
  • Processing time is reduced.
  • Electronic security ensures confidentiality of data.
  • Electronic acknowledgment is provided by the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) when you file.
  • Less file storage space is required since data can be stored electronically.
  • Less chance for data entry errors.

The guidelines, rules and responsibilities for cigarette and tobacco products online filing are provided on the Cigarette and Tobacco Products Online Filing webpage.

Beginning August 12, 2019, you will have full access to all online services including filing returns/reports. If you have been receiving paper returns, we will no longer mail paper returns to you in the near future.

Sign up now to create a new Username and Password and login with these new credentials to file online in our new online services system beginning August 12, 2019.

If you have an existing User ID, Password, or Express Login, these credentials will not be valid in the new online services system on and after August 12, 2019.

All information and documentation about cigarette and tobacco products online filing is available on the Cigarette and Tobacco Products Online Filing webpage. This page contains guidelines, rules, instructions, examples, templates, applications, and general information.

All cigarette and tobacco products tax forms may be filed online.

The "Declaration of Intent" accepted during the online filing process, affirms your intention to file your return online. In addition, it certifies that the return/report, including any accompanying schedules, documents, and statements, has been examined by you and to the best of your knowledge and belief is true, correct, and complete.

You may file an amended tax form online by logging on to your account and following the prompts online. If you do not have credentials to log on and access your account online, see How do I register to file online? above. Note: This is only available for periods filed after August 12, 2019. Amended figures on prior periods will need to be filed on paper. Please ensure you are using the correct version.

The filing for a period is considered to be filed timely if the tax form and any applicable payment are received by the CDTFA on or before the due date. If either is received after the due date, the filing is considered late. Tax forms and EFT payments filed online receive an electronic "postmark" of the date and time they are submitted. This postmark is used to determine if the filing is timely.

In general, if a tax form or payment is received by the CDTFA after the due date, interest and/or penalty may be charged. Failure to file a tax form, or filing an incomplete tax form, may result in charges for interest, penalty, and/or license revocation.

Typically you will not be required to submit any paper documentation after filing your tax form online. However, the CDTFA may request that you provide additional or supporting documentation for your filed tax form. You will be contacted by CDTFA staff if additional information is needed.

Yes. Beginning August 12, 2019, you will have full access to all online services including filing returns/reports. If you have been receiving paper returns, we will no longer mail paper returns to you in the near future.

No. Both the return and payment must be made by the due date to avoid late penalties and/or interest charges, but they do not need to be done at the same time. You may, for example, submit your return on the (10th) of the month and wait until the due date to make your payment. Go to the Online Services webpage for information on making electronic payments.

No. However, the CDTFA recommends that you also pay any taxes due electronically. See our Online Services webpage for information on making electronic payments and other payment options.

The following are the most common causes of this problem:

  • The password is case-sensitive. Be sure to check the "Caps Lock" button on your keyboard, and make sure that you are entering any characters of your password in the proper case.
  • Incorrect Password or Username

If you've checked everything and are still having problems, contact the CDTFA's Customer Service Center at 1-800-400-7115 (CRS:711), Monday through Friday (excluding State holidays) between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (Pacific Time); from the main menu, select Special Taxes and Fees. You will need to provide your name, phone number, email address, company name, and account numbers. Please have that information ready. For security reasons you will be required to provide authentication information.

If you forgot your password and/or your username, go to our login page, select "Forgot Password?" and/or "Forgot Username?", and follow the prompts.

If you are still unable to log on, you may contact the CDTFA's Customer Service Center at 1-800-400-7115 (CRS:711), Monday through Friday (excluding State holidays) between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (Pacific time); from the main menu, select Special Taxes and Fees. You will need to provide your name, phone number, email address, company name, and account numbers. Please have that information ready. For security reasons you will be required to provide authentication information. Our customer service agents will assist you.

For technical assistance, please contact the CDTFA's Customer Service Center at 1-800-400-7115 (CRS:711), Monday through Friday (excluding State holidays) between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (Pacific Time); from the main menu, select Special Taxes and Fees. You will need to provide your name, phone number, email address, company name, and account numbers. Please have that information ready. For security reasons you will be required to provide authentication information. Our customer service agents will assist you.

To ensure that you are notified of any developments regarding cigarette and tobacco laws, regulations, and taxes in California, we recommend you register with the CDTFA's subscription service. Please note, you are responsible for complying with any notifications provided through this subscription service. To receive Special Notices, our quarterly Tax Information Bulletin, and other information, you need to subscribe to the CDTFA's update list. You may also want to register to receive the Special Taxes and Fees Newsletter electronically.

For more information about the tax and licensing obligations for retailers, wholesalers, distributors, manufacturers, importers, and consumers of cigarettes and tobacco products, see our Tax Guide for Cigarettes and Tobacco Products.

Online filing uses the Internet to receive and transmit cigarette and tobacco tax forms. Online filing incorporates technological attributes to ensure data security. You must also use security procedures that are reasonably sufficient to ensure that all transmissions of cigarette and tobacco tax forms are authorized. You must take the necessary precautions to safeguard its technological attributes and notify the CDTFA when you have knowledge that its technological attributes have been compromised.

We will be happy to assist you in developing your cigarette and tobacco products online filing capabilities. We are available to provide technical expertise relating to the guidelines and requirements on the Cigarette and Tobacco Products Online Filing webpage. If you require assistance, please contact the CDTFA's Customer Service Center at 1-800-400-7115 (CRS:711), Monday through Friday (excluding State holidays) between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (Pacific Time); from the main menu, select Special Taxes and Fees.

We will be happy to assist you in developing your cigarette and tobacco products online filing capabilities. We are available to provide technical expertise relating to the guidelines and requirements on the Cigarette and Tobacco Products Online Filing webpage. If you require assistance, please contact the CDTFA's Customer Service Center at 1-800-400-7115 (CRS:711), Monday through Friday (excluding State holidays) between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (Pacific Time); from the main menu, select Special Taxes and Fees.

Independent companies may provide assistance, products, or services. CDTFA does not recommend or endorse these companies.