The biggest change for filing your 2011 taxes is the state's income tax rate has dropped a quarter-percent. That's because Governor Jerry Brown and legislative Democrats failed in their push to extend several temporary tax increases. But the governor and Democrats did tweak a tax credit - for child and dependent care expenses. Denise Azimi with the Franchise Tax Board says it used to get you a refund - and now it won't.
Azimi: "In the past, if you had - maybe you owed $600 in tax and the credit was worth $1,000, you would get a check for the difference. At this point, it's going to offset your tax liability and then stop."
Meanwhile, if you find yourself unable to pay your taxes right now, the state offers this advice to keep the tax collectors off your back: File your return on time, pay what you can and call right away to set up a payment plan.