California Tax Brackets

California tax brackets are adjusted for the 2020 – 2021 taxes. The same as the federal income tax brackets, California has a progressive tax system – meaning the more you earn, the more you pay in taxes. Although how the brackets work the same, the tax rates are significantly different than the federal rates though.

California Marginal Tax Rates

In order, here are the marginal tax rates of the California tax brackets. 

  • 1 percent
  • 2 percent
  • 4 percent
  • 6 percent
  • 8 percent
  • 9.3 percent
  • 10.3 percent
  • 11.3 percent
  • 12.3 percent

The California marginal tax rates are higher than most of the states, but not the highest. To figure out how much a taxpayer owns in taxes, he or she needs to calculate taxable income first, then use the tax brackets for to see the tax liability. 

California current tax tables 2020 – 2021

Single

Tax rateTaxable Income
1%$0 to $8,932
2%$8,933 to $21,175
4%$21,176 to $33,421
6%$33,422 to $46,394
8%$46,395 to $58,634
9.3%$58,635 to $299,508
10.3%$299,509 to $359,407
11.3%$359,408 to $599,012
12.3%$599,013 or more

Married Filing Jointly – Qualifying Widow(er)

Tax RateTaxable Income
1%$0 to $17,864
2%$17,865 to $42,350
4%$42,351 to $66,842
6%$66,843 to $92,788
8%$92,789 to $117,268
9.3%$117,269 to $599,016
10.3%$599,017 to $718,814
11.3%$718,815 to $1,198,024
12.3%$1,198,025 or more

Head of Household

Tax RateTaxable Income
1%$0 to $17,864
2%$17,865 to $42,353
4%$42,354 to $54,597
6%$54,598 to $67,569
8%$67,570 to $79,812
9.3%$79,813 to $407,329
10.3%$407,330 to $488,796
11.3%$488,797 to $814,658
12.3%$814,659 or more

Married Filing Separately

Tax RateTaxable Income
1%$0 to $8,932
2%$8,933 to $21,175
4%$21,176 to $33,421
6%$33,422 to $46,394
8%$46,395 to $58,634
9.3%$58,635 to $299,508
10.3%$299,509 to $359,407
11.3%$359,408 to $599,012
12.3%$599,013 or more

Calculate tax liability

The California state income tax return, Form 540, can guide you on figuring out the taxable income using the tax brackets. Make sure to calculate the portion of your income that’s subject to state income tax as you won’t pay all of your earnings in state income taxes.

Once you know the highest tax rate that applies to you, make sure to get to the highest rate gradually. You won’t pay the highest allocated portion of your income in state income taxes. Pay taxes gradually and make your way up to the highest rate for your taxable income, and pay taxes accordingly.

That said, it’s best to think about the tax rates as cups you need to fill in first to pay the designated portion rather than something as a whole. This will help you better understand how the tax brackets work, especially on a state level.

For more information on the California income tax system and how to file your state income tax return, get the latest Form 540.

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