California State Tax: Rates, Who Pays in 2020-2021

You don't necessarily have to live in California to pay California state tax.

Tina OremMarch 5, 2021
California State Tax: Rates, Who Pays, What to Know
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California state tax rates are 1%, 2%, 4%, 6%, 8%, 9.3%, 10.3%, 11.3% and 12.3%. A 1% mental health services tax applies to income exceeding $1 million. California state tax brackets and income tax rates depend on taxable income and filing status. Also, residency status determines what’s taxable.

California state tax rates and tax brackets

Tax rate

Taxable income bracket

Tax owed

1%

$0 to $8,932

1% of taxable income

2%

$8,933 to $21,175

$89.32 plus 2% of the amount over $8,932

4%

$21,176 to $33,421

$334.18 plus 4% of the amount over $21,175

6%

$33,422 to $46,394

$824.02 plus 6% of the amount over $33,421

8%

$46,395 to $58,634

$1,602.40 plus 8% of the amount over $46,394

9.3%

$58,635 to $299,508

$2,581.60 plus 9.3% of the amount over $58,634

10.3%

$299,509 to $359,407

$24,982.88 plus 10.3% of the amount over $299,508

11.3%

$359,408 to $599,012

$31,152.48 plus 11.3% of the amount over $359,407

12.3%

$599,013 or more

$58,227.85 plus 12.3% of the amount over $599,012

Tax rate

Taxable income bracket

Tax owed

1%

$0 to $17,864

1% of taxable income

2%

$17,865 to $42,350

$178.64 plus 2% of the amount over $17,864

4%

$42,351 to $66,842

$668.36 plus 4% of the amount over $42,350

6%

$66,843 to $92,788

$1,648.04 plus 6% of the amount over $66,842

8%

$92,789 to $117,268

$3,204.80 plus 8% of the amount over $92,788

9.3%

$117,269 to $599,016

$5,163.20 plus 9.3% of the amount over $117,268

10.3%

$599,017 to $718,814

$49,965.76 plus 10.3% of the amount over $599,016

11.3%

$718,815 to $1,198,024

$62,304.95 plus 11.3% of the amount over $718,814

12.3%

$1,198,025 or more

$116,455.68 plus 12.3% of the amount over $1,198,024

Tax rate

Taxable income bracket

Tax owed

1%

$0 to $17,864

1% of taxable income

2%

$17,865 to $42,353

$178.64 plus 2% of the amount over $17,864

4%

$42,354 to $54,597

$668.36 plus 4% of the amount over $42,353

6%

$54,598 to $67,569

$1,158.06 plus 6% of the amount over $54,597

8%

$67,570 to $79,812

$1,936.38 plus 8% of the amount over $67,569

9.3%

$79,813 to $407,329

$2,915.82 plus 9.3% of the amount over $79,812

10.3%

$407,330 to $488,796

$33,374.90 plus 10.3% of the amount over $407,329

11.3%

$488,797 to $814,658

$41,766 plus 11.3% of the amount over $488,796

12.3%

$814,659 or more

$78,588.41 plus 12.3% of the amount over $814,658

Tax rate

Taxable income bracket

Tax owed

1%

$0 to $8,932

1% of taxable income

2%

$8,933 to $21,175

$89.32 plus 2% of the amount over $8,932

4%

$21,176 to $33,421

$334.18 plus 4% of the amount over $21,175

6%

$33,422 to $46,394

$824.02 plus 6% of the amount over $33,421

8%

$46,395 to $58,634

$1,602.40 plus 8% of the amount over $46,394

9.3%

$58,635 to $299,508

$2,581.60 plus 9.3% of the amount over $58,634

10.3%

$299,509 to $359,407

$24,982.88 plus 10.3% of the amount over $299,508

11.3%

$359,408 to $599,012

$31,152.48 plus 11.3% of the amount over $359,407

12.3%

$599,013 or more

$58,227.85 plus 12.3% of the amount over $599,012

California also assesses a 1% mental health services tax on any portion of taxable income exceeding $1 million.

Do I have to pay California state income tax?

Generally, you have to file a California state tax return if you’re a resident, part-year resident or nonresident and:

  • You’re required to file a federal tax return.

  • You got income from a source in California during the tax year.

  • You have income above the thresholds in either of the tables below.

Under 65

65 and older

Single

0 dependents

$18,496

$24,696

1 dependent

$31,263

$34,271

2 or more dependents

$40,838

$41,931

Married filing jointly

0 dependents

$36,996

  • $43,196

  • $49,396 if both are 65 or older

1 dependent

$49,763

  • $52,771

  • $58,971 if both are 65 or older

2 or more dependents

$59,338

  • $60,431

  • $66,631 if both are 65 or older

Head of household

0 dependents

$18,496

$24,696

1 dependent

$31,263

$34,271

2 or more dependents

$40,838

$41,931

Married filing separately

0 dependents

$36,996

  • $43,196

  • $49,396 if both are 65 or older

1 dependent

$49,763

  • $52,771

  • $58,971 if both are 65 or older

2 dependents

$59,338

  • $60,431

  • $66,631 if both are 65 or older

Qualifying widow(er)

0 dependents

N/A

N/A

1 dependent

$31,263

$34,271

2 dependents

$40,838

$41,931

Under 65

65 and older

Single

0 dependents

$14,797

$20,997

1 dependent

$27,564

$30,572

2 or more dependents

$37,139

$38,232

Married filing jointly

0 dependents

$29,599

  • $35,799

  • $41,999 if both are 65 or older

1 dependent

$42,366

  • $45,374

  • $51,574 if both are 65 or older

2 or more dependents

$51,941

  • $53,034

  • $59,234 if both are 65 or older

Head of household

0 dependents

$14,797

$20,997

1 dependent

$27,564

$30,572

2 or more dependents

$37,139

$38,232

Married filing separately

0 dependents

$29,599

  • $35,799

  • $41,999 if both are 65 or older

1 dependent

$42,366

  • $45,374

  • $51,574 if both are 65 or older

2 dependents

$51,941

  • $53,034

  • $59,234 if both are 65 or older

Qualifying widow(er)

0 dependents

N/A

N/A

1 dependent

$27,564

$30,572

2 dependents

$37,139

$38,232

Am I a resident for California state tax purposes?

There are three types of residency statuses when it comes to California state tax. They determine what portion of your income the state will tax.

Types of residency status in California

If your California residency type is...

California taxes this part of your income

Resident

All income from all sources inside and outside California

Part-year resident

All income received while a resident, plus income from California sources while a nonresident

Nonresident

Income from California sources

Resident status Rules

You’re a resident of California for tax purposes if your presence in California wasn’t temporary or transitory in purpose. Generally, you’re a resident if you lived in California, even if you were temporarily out of state.

Here are some examples of situations that can make you a California resident for tax purposes, according to the state:

  • You spend more than nine months in California during the tax year.

  • Your employer assigns you to an office in California for a long or indefinite period.

  • You decide to check out California for a while, with no real plans to leave.

  • You’re in California for an indefinite period to recuperate from an illness.

Students from California who go to college out of state do not automatically become nonresidents. Likewise, attending school in California doesn’t automatically make a student a California resident. (You can see the rules here for how California determines residency status.)

Part-year resident status rules

Generally, you’re a part-year resident of California if you were a nonresident for some of the tax year. This is often the case for people who moved to California from another state.

If you’re a part-year resident, you pay California state tax on all income you received during the part of the tax year you were a resident of California, plus state income tax on income just from California sources while you were a nonresident.

Nonresident status rules

Nonresidents still may have to pay California state tax on income they receive from California sources. This means you may need to file a California state tax return even if you live in another state but made money from California-related things such as:

  • Services performed in California.

  • Rent from real estate you own in California.

  • The sale or transfer of real estate in California.

  • Income from a California business, trade or profession.

In some cases, you might be a nonresident for tax purposes even if you live in California but you were out of state for at least 546 consecutive days because of an employment-related contract. However, that exception won’t apply if you had more than $200,000 of intangible income while the employment-related contract was in effect, were in California for more than 45 days during the tax year, or if the state thinks the point of your absence is to evade state income taxes.

Is it easy to use?

Pricing: $60 to $120, plus state costs.

Free version? Yes.

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Pricing: $24.95 to $64.95, plus state costs.

Free version? Yes.

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Is it easy to use?

Pricing: $49.99 to $109.99, plus state costs.

Free version? Yes.

6 things to know about California state tax

  1. California’s tax-filing deadline generally follows the federal tax deadline.

  2. Tax software will do your state taxes (though sometimes for an extra fee).

  3. Wondering "Where is my California state tax refund?" Good news: You can check the status of your state tax refund online.

  4. If you can’t pay your California state tax bill on time, you can request a one-time, 30-day delay.

  5. If you can’t afford your tax bill and owe less than $25,000, California offers payment plans. Typically, you get three to five years to pay your bill. There’s a fee to set up an agreement.

  6. You can also apply for the state’s Offer in Compromise program, which might allow you to pay less than you owe.

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