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 tax forms electronically 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 eFiling. The information on this page is designed to provide the rules, procedures, and technical requirements for electronic 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 Filling
- Cigarette Distributor's Tax Report (CDTFA-501-CD)
- Cigarette Manufacturer's Tax Return of Taxable Distributions in California (CDTFA-501-CM)
Cigarette Tax Electronic Filling Guide
The Cigarette Tax Electronic Filing Guide contains general instructions needed to file tax forms electronically for the CDTFA's Cigarette Tax Online Filing Program.
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 Program participants.
Submitting an Online Form or Return
Submitting an Online cigarette tax form, schedule or return is straightforward:
- Login on the CDTFA's secure website as a Registered User or using your Express Login code.
- Select the account and period for which you want to submit an online filing,
- Complete the online tax form and attach your supporting schedule/transaction file,
- Select "Continue."
- 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 electronically. 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 submitting an electronic 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.
|(CD) Cigarette Distributor's Tax Report||Excel|
|(CM) Cigarette Manufacturer's Tax Return of Taxable Distributions in California||Excel|
FLT File Specifications
The FLT File Specifications provide the information online filing participants need to create their own schedule/transaction files. Use the FLT File electronic map specifications when developing FLT files using your own resources. The CDTFA requires that all schedules provide the detailed information needed to perform tracking of monthly cigarette transactions
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 file testing process. Testing can be done to ensure you are able to submit valid electronic files 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 electronically.
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 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 submit Form CDTFA-82, Authorization for Electronic Transmission of Data with this notification. The CDTFA-82 authorizes the CDTFA to communicate online filing matters to you via email and is also available on the Cigarette Tax Online Filing Program website.
- Log in and submit a return for the account you are testing. You may only submit test files until CDTFA has authorized you to begin filing actual returns. Remember to flag your transaction files as "Test."
- Request that the test return be reviewed by sending the CDTFA an Electronic Test File Review Request form. You can email this form to us at for faster processing.
Based on the results of your test file submission, the CDTFA will authorize you to file actual returns 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.
Electronic Test File Review Request Forms
Select one of the two review forms below, depending on the type of electronic test file you will be submitting. These forms are only required during the testing process.
- Electronic Filing Testing Review Request Form – Distributor
- Electronic Filing Testing Review Request Form – Manufacturer
For details on electronic file testing, refer to Chapter 6 in the Cigarette Tax Electronic Filing Guide. Refer to the FLT file specifications for the syntax requirements of the schedule/transaction files.
Cigarette eFiling Glossary
The Cigarette Tax Electronic Filing Glossary is a compilation of cigarette tax, Internet, and electronic filing terms provided for reference.
Cigarette Tax Reporting Information
- BOE-810-CTC, Cigarette Tax Postal Abbreviations Table
- CDTFA-810-CTE, Instructions for Preparing Cigarette Tax Schedules
- CDTFA-810-CTF, Cigarette Tax Disbursement Schedule
- CDTFA-810-CTI, Cigarette Tax Receipt Schedule
- Cigarette Distributor Electronic File Review Request
- Cigarette Manufacturer Electronic File review Request
- Cigarette and Tobacco Tax Rates
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
Examples are intended to illustrate how a tax form would be reported to the CDTFA electronically. For each tax form eligible to be filed with the Cigarette Tax Electronic Filing Program, an example of the paper tax form is provided along with a completed Excel workbook used to create the schedule/transaction example.
The Cigarette Online Filing Program adheres to all confidentiality procedures and requirements set forth by the CDTFA. The CDTFA's form CDTFA-324-GEN, Privacy Notice – Information Provided to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration provides information on the CDTFA's confidentiality procedures and requirements.
- California Department of Tax and Fee Administration website
- Customer Service Surveys
- Contact Special Taxes and Fees
- Special Taxes Newsletters
- Cigarette and Tobacco Products General Information
- Cigarette Tax Stamp Contract Information
- Registration for Tax and Fee Programs
- Make a Credit Card Payment
- Forms and Publications