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 $7,582 of taxable income.
- 2 percent on taxable income between $7,583 and $17,976.
- 4 percent on taxable income between $17,977 and $28,371.
- 6 percent on taxable income between $28,372 and $39,384.
- 8 percent on taxable income between $39,385 and $49,774.
- 9.30 percent on taxable income between $49,775 and 254,250.
- 10.30 percent on taxable income between $254,251 and 305,100.
- 11.30 percent on taxable income between $305,101 and $508,500.
- 12.30 percent on taxable income of $508,501 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 13.30 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.
With Ready Return, eligible California taxpayers can view a prefilled state tax return, update it if needed and e-file it directly with the state, all at no cost.
California's minimum combined state, county and local sales and use tax rate increased to 7.50 percent (6.50 percent state-only portion and 1 percent collected by localities) on Jan. 1, 2013, due to voter approval in November 2012 of Proposition 30.
Rates 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 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. Publication 106 contains more information.
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 state's property tax postponement program previously allowed eligible homeowners (senior citizens and blind or disabled residents) to postpone payment of property taxes on their principal place of residence. Because of the state's fiscal difficulties, the program has been suspended indefinitely. However, each county may implement a property tax postponement program for properties located in the county.
California also 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, this program also is suspended due to budget constraints.
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.
There is no inheritance tax in California.
Other California tax facts
California gives taxpayers the option to make voluntary fund contributions to more than a dozen nonprofit programs.
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.