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How to Calculate California State Income Tax

Understand California State Tax Brackets


Identify the three lowest California tax brackets. If you earn approximately $6,000 or less, your tax rate is 1 percent. Earnings ranging from approximately $6,000 to $14,000 are taxed at a 2-percent rate. People whose earnings fall between approximately $14,500 and $23,000 pay 3-percent income tax in California.


Learn the tax rates for people earning higher incomes. A 6-percent tax rate applies to individuals earning approximately $23,000 to $32,000. You'll pay 8 percent on income between about $32,000 and $40,000, and the highest tax bracket in California is the 9.3 percent bracket, applied to earnings exceeding $40,000.


Remember that you only have to pay income tax on taxable income, which is your total income minus any tax deductions you are permitted. The tax deductions you will qualify for vary greatly, depending on your personal situation. However, if you're self-employed or the sole supporter of dependents, especially children, you may qualify for a number of deductions that could save significant money on your income tax.

Calculate Your California State Income Tax


Total up the amount of money you have made over the course of the calendar year. Include not only salary and job earnings, but also any capital gains you have made on any investments you might have and any other taxable income you have received. Inheritances, student bursaries, government grants and cash-prize winnings are all sources of income that may be taxable.


Subtract your tax deductions. Work with an income tax specialist at a financial-services company if you have an incomplete understanding of the tax deduction system. You might qualify for deductions you wouldn't otherwise have known about.


Calculate the income tax you owe the state. For example, if your taxable income is more than approximately $37,000, you will fall in the 8-percent bracket. Thus, you would owe about $3,000 in state taxes.

Tips and Warnings

  • Knowingly falsifying your income information on your income tax return is a federal offense that can be punished with hefty fines and jail time.

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