I am holding a H1B visa and my wife just moved to California as H4 dependent. I have applied for ITIN along with filing my federal taxes.

How do I file my California State tax? Should I wait for her ITIN and then file my CA taxes or can I file my CA taxes without her ITIN? I was told by the IRS officer that it would take 8 weeks to get the ITIN. In that case, should I file for an extension for filing my California taxes ?

EDIT: Found that I do not have to file an extension for CA state taxes. If we can't file by April 15, we have an automatic six-month extension to file our return until October 15.

This is what I found in the instructions book of from 540. It does not say anything when one doesn't have an ITIN.

If you do not have an SSN because you are a nonresident or resident alien for federal tax purposes, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued you an ITIN, enter the ITIN in the space for the SSN. An ITIN is a tax processing number issued by the IRS to foreign nationals and others who have a federal tax filing requirement and do not qualify for an SSN. It is a nine-digit number that always starts with the number 9

So the questions is, should I wait for ITIN to file my state tax returns.

  • 1
    I seem to remember that my state (not CA) has explicit instructions for this case. (Like, fill in "Applying" in place of the ITIN). It would surprise me if CA does not have something similar.
    – Kent
    Mar 6, 2015 at 9:40
  • Just file an extension to be on the safe side
    – littleadv
    Mar 6, 2015 at 14:26
  • 2
    The way to file an extension for CA state taxes is to not file the taxes. i.e. We automatically get an extension if we fail to file the taxes. ftb.ca.gov/individuals/faq/ivr/201.shtml
    – SyncMaster
    Mar 6, 2015 at 16:51
  • 1
    I'm obviously over a year late to the party here, but I would note that extensions for the time to file are, in my (non-California) experience, quite distinct for the time to pay. In other words, you won't incur late filing penalties if you file before October 15th, but if you end up owing tax, you will pay interest and possibly late payment penalties.
    – phoog
    Oct 27, 2016 at 16:40

1 Answer 1


To the best of my knowledge the holder of a H1-B visa must possess a SSN and you make your first tax return a joint federal filing with the H4 dependent spouse's ITIN application on the front. Every spot in the federal tax return asking for the spouses SSN should be blank.

Given that you have applied for ITIN for the spouse along with your filed federal taxes, the next step is filing the California State taxes jointly. You do not wait for the ITIN: you mark every place it is asked for in the California tax forms as 'ITIN applied for'.

In future years if you do not have an SSN because you are a nonresident or resident alien for federal tax purposes, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued you an ITIN, you enter the ITIN in the space for the SSN. This will occur right up to the point an SSN is obtained, then you go with the SSN (you must remember to tell IRS of the new SSN before the tax year ends).

Note: both tax returns and the ITIN application must be handed in manually. One can complete the tax return using software but you must ensure you do not submit electronically. The California tax return is mailed in and the federal return / ITIN application requires an appointment to submit it.

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