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Bankrate's 2009 Tax Guide
State tax pages
Take a state tax expedition. Each of the states has its own way of gathering revenues from its residents.
State tax roundup

California's six state income tax rates range from 1 percent to 9.3 percent. The Golden State also assesses a 1 percent surcharge on taxable incomes of $1 million or more. More on California taxes can be found in the tabbed pages below.

Personal income tax
  California collects income tax from its residents at the following rates.

For single and married filing separately taxpayers:
-- 1 percent on the first $7,168 of taxable income
-- 2 percent on taxable income between $7,169 and $16,994
-- 4 percent on taxable income between $16,995 and $26,821
-- 6 percent on taxable income between $26,822 and $37,233
-- 8 percent on taxable income between $37,234 and $47,055
-- 9.3 percent on taxable income of $47,056 and above.

A 1 percent surcharge, the Mental Health Services Tax, is collected on taxable incomes of $1 million or more, making California's highest marginal rate 10.3 percent.

For married persons filing joint returns and heads of households, the rates remain the same but the income brackets are doubled.
  Residents must complete returns on Form 540EZ, Form 540A (short form), Form 540 (long form) or Form 540-ADS by April 15. When that date falls on a weekend or holiday, filers get until the next business day to submit their state returns.
  You might be able to file your California return electronically at no cost using CalFile if you meet the program's eligibility requirements.
Sales tax
  California's minimum combined state, county and local sales and use tax increased to 7.25 percent (6.25 state-only portion) on Jan. 1, 2002.
  The rate will be higher in cities and counties with special taxing districts. Publication 71 lists combined sales tax rates for California cities and counties.
  Many business owners believe that gift wrapping is a nontaxable service. However, unless it is food products that were sold in a nontaxable transaction, sales tax generally applies to gift-wrapping charges.
Personal and real property taxes
  In the State of California, all real property is taxable and shall be assessed at fair market value.
  Any homestead exemptions are handled at the county level and residents must contact the local County Tax Assessor's office to inquire.
The property tax postponement program allows eligible homeowners (senior citizens and blind or disabled residents) to postpone payment of property taxes on their principal place of residence. To secure the postponed amount, a lien is recorded against the property. Interest is charged on the postponed taxes.
  California previously offered a homeowner and renter assistance program under which a once-a-year payment was made to qualified individuals based on part of the property taxes assessed and paid on their homes or paid indirectly as part of their rent. However, the state budget approved for the 2008-2009 fiscal year deleted funding for this program; 2008 claims cannot be paid or processed. Check the state's homeowner and renter assistance program Web page periodically for program updates.
Inheritance and estate taxes
  California has no inheritance tax and its estate tax has been phased out in connection with federal estate tax law changes. Executors of estates of persons who died on or after Jan. 1, 2005, are no longer required to file a California estate tax return.
  For more information, call the California Franchise Tax Board at (800) 852-5711 or go to the Web site.
Other California tax facts
  California gives taxpayers the option to make voluntary fund contributions to more than a dozen programs. Details can be found on Page 8 of the instruction book for Form 540A.
California taxpayers can check the status of their refunds by using the state's interactive Web page.
No intangible personal property taxes are levied in California.
For more information, go to the California Franchise Tax Board's Web site or call (800)-852-5711.
To download tax forms on this site, you will need to install a free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader. Click here for instructions.
-- Updated: Feb. 2, 2009

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