Doing Business in California — What You Need to Know (Publication 51)

The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) administers California’s sales and use, fuel, tobacco, alcohol, and cannabis taxes, as well as a variety of other taxes and fees that fund specific state programs. CDTFA-administered programs collect more than $94.2 billion annually which support local essential services such as transportation, public safety and health, libraries, schools, social services, and natural resource management programs through the distribution of tax dollars going directly to local communities.

More than one million businesses in nearly every field of commercial activity are registered with us. We have field offices throughout California as well as in New York, NY; Chicago, IL; and Houston, TX.

This guide provides some basic information about starting a business in California and a listing of available resources, services, contact information, educational opportunities, training classes, and useful publications.

You may not need to visit an office to utilize these services—many are now available online.

What You Can Do Online

Live Chat: Taxpayers who need a quick answer to a question can use the live chat feature on our homepage. This is a convenient way to efficiently get prompt and accurate responses from our representatives.

Call Our Customer Service Center: Call 1-800-400-7115 (CRS:711) for assistance with your general tax questions.

Find Your Closest Office: Use our Office Locations and Addresses site to find your closest CDTFA office.

Need Language Assistance? A variety of forms and publications are available in languages other than English. You can also file your sales and use tax return, make a payment or prepayment, and register with us in Spanish via Online Services. We are continually updating our website with new translations.

Payments and Payment Options: Visit our Online Services Payments webpage. We accept a variety of payment methods, including direct bank account transfer, Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), credit card, check, or money order.

Revision January 2024