Direct Transmit Program – Frequently Asked Questions

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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 CDTFA's online filing system.

  • 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 CDTFA.
  • 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.

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.



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 CDTFA. The software and/or web applications you use must be developed to generate the SOAP request according to the CDTFA defined XML Schemas.

SOAP is a protocol specification for exchanging structured information in the implementation of web services. It relies on XML as its message format.

Extensible Markup Language (XML) allows independent systems to share information via the Internet. XML is merely used to structure, store, and transport data. The CDTFA 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.

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 CDTFA.

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.

Once you have successfully completed all system tests, you will be certified to be a Direct Transmitter. The certification process is indicated below.

  1. Application:
    • CDTFA 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 CDTFA defined XML Schemas.
      Note: Direct Transmitters are expected to have a working knowledge of XML in order to be certified. The CDTFA will not provide technical support for updating your software or website.
  2. 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, and test accounts 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.
  3. System Testing:
    • 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 CDTFA 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.
  4. Certification:
    • When all test scenarios have been completed successfully, the CDTFA 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 CDTFA 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 CDTFA supports or provides validity to the product or services offered by a Direct Transmitter. The CDTFA does not support any one Direct Transmitter and Direct Transmitters should not misrepresent the CDTFA'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 CDTFA. Tax or fee payers should consider utilizing the CDTFA's online filing system.

Once you are certified to transmit return data using Direct Transmit, you generally will not have to be recertified unless there are changes to the XML Schemas or tax rates.

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 CDTFA'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 CDTFA's web service on a continuous basis one filing at a time. For each return successfully transmitted, the CDTFA will immediately send a confirmation number.

Direct Transmitters may submit return data from any location directly to the CDTFA at any time after the reporting period has ended. The online filing system is available at all times except during routine system maintenance.

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 CDTFA.

Return data transmitted via Direct Transmit must include all the information and schedules as required by the CDTFA 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.

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, ACI Payments, Inc. This service fee is retained by the vendor and is not revenue to the CDTFA. The minimum fee is $1.00. Payments may be called in to 1-855-292-8931 or made over the Internet by visiting

You will receive a confirmation number immediately, which indicates the transmittal was received by the CDTFA. A return is not filed until a confirmation number is returned to you by the CDTFA. If the transmittal was rejected, the return must be retransmitted.


Returns and ACH Debit payments may be cancelled while transmittals are in pending status. Pending transmittals have not been processed by the CDTFA. You must contact the Customer Service Center at 1-800-400-7115 (TTY:711), (Monday through Friday 7:30 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 CDTFA in order for the credit to be processed and refunded. Claims may be mailed to the following address:

California Department of Tax and Fee Administration
Audit Determination and Refund Section, MIC: 39
P.O. Box 942879
Sacramento, CA 94279-0039

The CDTFA 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.