Overview of Kentucky Taxes
Kentucky imposes a flat income tax of 5%. The tax rate is the same no matter what filing status you use. Aside from state and federal taxes, many Kentucky residents are subject to local taxes, which are called occupational taxes. For most counties and cities in the Bluegrass State, this is a percentage of taxpayers’ wages.
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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.
Kentucky Paycheck Calculator
Kentucky Paycheck Quick Facts
- Kentucky income tax rate: 5%
- Median household income: $52,295 (U.S. Census Bureau)
- Number of cities and counties that have local income taxes: 215
How Your Kentucky Paycheck Works
Whenever you get paid, regardless of which state you call home, your employer will withhold federal income and FICA taxes from your paycheck. Federal income taxes will go to the IRS, where it counts toward your annual income taxes. FICA taxes are comprised of Medicare and Social Security taxes. Each month, you pay into these systems so you can reap the benefits during retirement. Medicare tax is 1.45% of your wages and Social Security is 6.2%. If your salary is over $200,000, your earnings in excess of $200,000 are subject to an additional 0.9% in Medicare tax.
How much you pay in federal income taxes depends on the information you filled out on your Form W-4. This is the form that tells your employer how much of your money to withhold in taxes. Therefore, you need to fill out a new one whenever you start a new job or if you need to make any changes during the year. Situations requiring a new W-4 include getting married or having a child.
The W-4 was recently revised, and the new form must be completed by all employees hired as of Jan. 1, 2020. Employees hired before then must only complete the new W-4 if they plan to adjust their withholdings or change jobs. It's important to note that the updated version removes the use of allowances, employing in its place a five-step process that requires filers to input annual dollar amounts to prove personal information and additional income.
One factor that will affect the amount of taxes withheld from your pay is your marital status. Regardless of how you file your taxes (e.g. single vs. head of household), it will affect how much you owe in taxes. Having dependents also affects your taxes.
Almost everyone has to pay federal income and FICA taxes, but there are other monies that you may opt to have taken out of your paycheck. If you have health or life insurance policies through your employer, those premiums are deducted from your wages. Similarly, if you contribute to company-sponsored retirement plans like a 401(k) or Roth IRA, that money is subtracted from your paycheck. The same goes for any money you choose to put in a health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA) or commuter benefit program.
Kentucky Median Household Income
Regardless of their filing status, Kentuckians are taxed at a flat rate of 5%. The state previously had progressive tax rates ranging from 2% to 6%, but changed to a flat rate system during a tax reform in early 2018.
You also have to pay local income taxes, which Kentucky calls occupational taxes. Not only will you be charged county taxes, but if you live in a city that also charges local taxes, you’ll get hit with both. Most counties and cities charge a percentage, ranging from 0.01% to 2.50%. These taxes are levied on your wages, not your taxable income.
A financial advisor in Kentucky 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.
Local Income Taxes
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How You Can Affect Your Kentucky Paycheck
Modifying your pre-tax contributions can often help your bottom line. While your paychecks are smaller if you go this route, you’re actually sheltering more of your income from the tax man. Some pre-tax accounts you should consider are a 401(k) or 403(b), if your employer offers one. If your employer matches your contributions to a 401(k), you should make sure that you contribute enough to take full advantage of the match. You can get similar tax benefits from a traditional IRA if your employer doesn’t offer a 401(k). You can also make pre-tax contributions into a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA).
If you have to pay a big tax bill every year, you should check your W-4, as you can elect to have a specific dollar amount taken out of each of your paychecks if you anticipate having to a pay a lot of taxes. Decide what you want that amount to be - say $50 a paycheck, and write that on the correct line of the W-4. It might seem odd to choose to get smaller paychecks, but remember: You will owe those taxes anyway. You’re simply spreading it out and paying it throughout the year, instead of facing a lump sum in April.
If learning the ins and outs of Kentucky’s tax structure has you wanting to become a resident, take a look at our Kentucky mortgage guide to learn about buying a home in the state. This guide contains everything you need to know about mortgages in Kentucky, whether it be for a new home or refinancing your current one.
Kentucky Top Income Tax Rate