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California Paycheck Calculator

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Use SmartAsset's paycheck calculator to calculate your take home pay per paycheck for both salary and hourly jobs after taking into account federal, state, and local taxes.

Overview of California Taxes

California has the highest top marginal income tax rate in the country. It’s a high-tax state in general, which affects the paychecks Californians earn. The Golden State’s income tax system is progressive, which means wealthy filers pay a higher marginal tax rate on their income. Cities in California levy their own sales taxes but do not charge their own income taxes on top of the state income tax.

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Taxes --% $--
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FICA and State Insurance Taxes --% $--
Social Security --% $--
Medicare --% $--
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State Unemployment Insurance Tax --% $--
State Family Leave Insurance Tax --% $--
State Workers Compensation Insurance Tax --% $--
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  • Our Tax Expert

    Jennifer Mansfield, CPA Tax

    Jennifer Mansfield, CPA, JD/LLM-Tax, is a Certified Public Accountant with more than 30 years of experience providing tax advice. SmartAsset’s tax expert has a degree in Accounting and Business/Management from the University of Wyoming, as well as both a Masters in Tax Laws and a Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center. Jennifer has mostly worked in public accounting firms, including Ernst & Young and Deloitte. She is passionate about helping provide people and businesses with valuable accounting and tax advice to allow them to prosper financially. Jennifer lives in Arizona and was recently named to the Greater Tucson Leadership Program.

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California Paycheck Calculator

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/AleksanderNakic

California Paycheck Quick Facts

  • California income tax rate: 1% - 12.3%
  • Median household income in California: $67,169 (U.S. Census Bureau)
  • Number of cities that have local income taxes: 0

How Your California Paycheck Works

Your job probably pays you either an hourly wage or an annual salary. But unless you’re getting paid under the table (which we don’t encourage), your actual take-home pay will be lower than the hourly or annual wage listed on your job contract. The reason for this discrepancy between your salary and your take-home pay has to do with the tax withholdings from your wages that happen before your employer cuts your paychecks. There may also be contributions toward insurance coverage, retirement funds, and other optional contributions, all of which can lower your final paycheck.

When calculating your take-home pay the first thing to come out of your earnings are FICA taxes for Social Security and Medicare. Your employer withholds a 6.2% Social Security tax and a 1.45% Medicare tax from your earnings after each pay period. If you earn over $200,000, you’ll also pay a 0.9% Medicare surtax. Your employer matches the 6.2% Social Security tax and the 1.45% Medicare tax in order to make up the full FICA taxes requirements. If you work for yourself, you’ll have to pay the self-employment tax, which is equal to the employee and employer portions of FICA taxes for a total of 15.3% of your pay. (Luckily, there is a deduction for the part of FICA taxes that your employer would normally pay.)

Other factors that can affect the size of your paycheck (whether you live in California or in any other state) include your marital status, your pay frequency, how many allowances you claim and what deductions and contributions you make. If you make contributions to your company’s health insurance plan, for example, that payment will be deducted from each of your paychecks before the money hits your bank account. The same goes for contributions you make to a 401(k) or a Health Savings Account. In December 2017, President Trump signed a new tax plan into law. The IRS has since released updated tax withholding guidelines and taxpayers should have seen changes to their paychecks starting in February 2018. There should be no new changes for 2019, and for the time being taxpayers do not need to fill out a new W-4. Employers will use the withholdings on your current form.

California Median Household Income

YearMedian Household Income
2017$67,169
2016$63,783
2015$61,818
2014$61,933
2013$60,190
2012$58,328
2011$57,287
2010$57,708
2009$58,931
2008$61,021
2007$59,948
2006$56,645

So what makes California’s payroll system different from the systems you might have encountered in other states? For one thing, the taxes are considerably higher. However, California has nine income tax brackets and the system is progressive, so if your income is on the low side you might pay a lower tax rate in California than you would in a flat tax state. California’s notoriously high top marginal tax rate of 12.3% (the highest in the country) only applies to income above $572,980 for single filers and $1,145,960 for joint filers.

While the income taxes in California are high, the property taxes are fortunately below the national average. If you are thinking about using a mortgage to buy a home in California, check out our guide to California mortgage rates.

California also does not have any cities that charge their own income taxes. However, sales tax in California does vary by city and county. This won’t affect your paycheck but it might affect your budget.

California is one of the few states to require deductions for disability insurance. This may seem like a drag, but having disability insurance is a good idea to protect yourself and your family from any loss of earnings you might suffer in the event of a short- or long-term disability.

If you earn money in California, your employer will withhold state disability insurance payments equal to 1% of your taxable wages up to $114,967 per calendar year. The maximum your employer can withhold for State Disability Insurance (SDI) is $1,149.67. If you’re covered by SDI you’re also covered by the State of California’s Paid Family Leave program.

Some employees earn supplemental wages. This includes overtime, commission, awards, bonuses, payments for non-deductible moving expenses (often called a relocation bonus), severance and pay for accumulated sick leave. In California these supplemental wages are taxed at a flat rate. Bonuses and earnings from stock options are taxed at a flat rate of 10.23%, while all other supplemental wages are taxed at a flat rate of 6.6%. These taxes will be reflected in the withholding from your paycheck if applicable.

Income Tax Brackets

Single Filers
California Taxable IncomeRate
$0 - $8,5441.0%
$8,544 - $20,2552.0%
$20,255 - $31,9694.0%
$31,969 - $44,3776.0%
$44,377 - $56,0858.0%
$56,085 - $286,4929.3%
$286,492 - $343,78810.3%
$343,788 - $572,98011.3%
$572,980+12.3%
Married, Filing Jointly
California Taxable IncomeRate
$0 - $17,0881.0%
$17,088 - $40,5102.0%
$40,510 - $63,9384.0%
$63,938 - $88,7546.0%
$88,754 - $112,1708.0%
$112,170 - $572,9849.3%
$572,984 - $687,57610.3%
$687,576 - $1,145,96011.3%
$1,145,960+12.3%
Married, Filing Separately
California Taxable IncomeRate
$0 - $8,5441.0%
$8,544 - $20,2552.0%
$20,255 - $31,9694.0%
$31,969 - $44,3776.0%
$44,377 - $56,0858.0%
$56,085 - $286,4929.3%
$286,492 - $343,78810.3%
$343,788 - $572,98011.3%
$572,980+12.3%
Head of Household
California Taxable IncomeRate
$0 - $17,0991.0%
$17,099 - $40,5122.0%
$40,512 - $52,2244.0%
$52,224 - $64,6326.0%
$64,632 - $76,3438.0%
$76,343 - $389,6279.3%
$389,627 - $467,55310.3%
$467,553 - $779,25311.3%
$779,253+12.3%

A financial advisor in California can help you understand how taxes fit into your overall financial goals. Financial advisors can also help with investing and financial plans, including retirement, homeownership, insurance and more, to make sure you are preparing for the future.

How You Can Affect Your California Paycheck

Though some of the withholding from your paycheck is non-negotiable, there are certain steps you can take to affect the size of your paycheck. If you choose to save more of each paycheck for retirement, for example, your take-home pay will go down. That’s why personal finance experts often advise that employees increase the percentage they’re saving for retirement when they get a raise, so they don’t experience a smaller paycheck and get discouraged from saving.

If you choose a more expensive health insurance plan or you add family members to your plan, you may see more money withheld from each of your paychecks, depending on your company’s insurance offerings.

If your paychecks seem small and you get a big tax refund every year, you might want to fill out a new W-4 form and a new California state income tax DE-4 Form. These forms tell your employer how many allowances you’re claiming and how much to withhold from each of your paychecks. If you take more allowances, you might get a smaller refund but you should get bigger paychecks. Conversely, if you always owe tax money come April, you may want to claim fewer allowances so that more money is withheld throughout the year.

In the state of California your employer can’t deduct anything from your wages except what is required by state and federal law (for income taxes, for example) or what you authorize yourself (for your health insurance premiums, for example). Union workers, however, may see legal deductions that don’t fall in either of these categories if such deductions are authorized by your collective bargaining agreement. An example of this kind of deduction is a pension payment.

California Top Income Tax Rate

YearTop Income Tax Rate
201812.30%
201712.30%
201613.30%
201513.30%
201413.30%
201313.30%
201210.30%
201110.30%
201010.55%
200910.55%
200810.30%
200710.30%
200610.30%
20059.30%

Most Paycheck Friendly Places

SmartAsset's interactive map highlights the most paycheck friendly counties across the country. Zoom between states and the national map to see data points for each region, or look specifically at one of the four factors driving our analysis: Semi-Monthly Paycheck, Purchasing Power, Unemployment Rate, and Income Growth.

Worse
Better
Rank County Semi-Monthly Paycheck Purchasing Power Unemployment Rate Income Growth

Methodology Our study aims to find the most paycheck friendly places in the country. These are places in the country with favorable economic conditions where you get to keep more of the money you make. To find these places we considered four different factors: semi-monthly paycheck, purchasing power, unemployment rate and income growth.

First, we calculated the semi-monthly paycheck for a single individual with two personal allowances. We applied relevant deductions and exemptions before calculating income tax withholding. To better compare withholding across counties we assumed a $50,000 annual income. We then indexed the paycheck amount for each county to reflect the counties with the lowest withholding burden.

We then created a purchasing power index for each county. This reflects the counties with the highest ratio of household income to cost of living. We also created an unemployment rate index that shows the counties with the lowest unemployment. For income growth, we calculated the annual growth in median income over five years for each county and indexed the results.

Finally, we calculated the weighted average of the indices to yield an overall paycheck friendliness score. We used a one half weighting for semi-monthly paycheck and a one-sixth weighting for purchasing power, unemployment rate and income growth. We indexed the final number so higher values reflect the most paycheck friendly places.

Sources: SmartAsset, government websites, US Census Bureau 2017 5-Year American Community Survey, MIT Living Wage Study, Bureau of Labor Statistics