Overview of Washington Taxes
Washington is one of seven states with no income tax, and there are no cities in the state that have local income taxes. Washington earners will still have to pay federal income taxes.
This calculator reflects the 2018 federal withholding tax changes.
Click here to learn more about how the Trump Tax Plan will affect you.
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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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Washington Paycheck Calculator
Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Rick Donovan
Washington Paycheck Quick Facts
How Your Washington Paycheck Works
Federal income and FICA (Federal Insurance Contribution Act) taxes are unavoidable regardless of whether you work at Boeing, Microsoft or your corner Starbucks.
How much you pay in federal income tax depends on a few different factors like your marital status, your salary, how many allowances you claim and if you have an additional dollar withholding. You will typically complete and submit a W-4 form on or before your first day of a new job. Your employer uses the information you provide on this form to determine how much to withhold from each of your paychecks in federal income tax.
Note that President Trump's new tax plan has caused a slight change in withholding calculations for federal income tax. The IRS released new withholding guidelines in January, to reflect the new tax plan, and taxpayers should have seen changes to their paychecks starting in February 2018. For the time being, you do not need to fill out a new W-4. Your employer will use the withholding information on your current form.
FICA taxes are Social Security and Medicare taxes. Workers have to pay 1.45% of their wages for Medicare tax and 6.2% for Social Security tax. Employers then match those percentages so the total contributions are doubled. Income in excess of $200,000 is subject to an additional 0.9% Medicare surtax. Self-employed individuals have to pay the total 2.9% in Medicare taxes and 12.4% in Social Security taxes themselves, as there is no separate employer to contribute the other half.
The paycheck you take home may be further reduced if you contribute funds toward a health or life insurance plan that your employer sponsors, as any premiums you pay will be deducted from your wages. This is also the case if you contribute to a retirement account through your employer, like a 401(k) or 403(b).
The frequency of your pay impacts the size of your paychecks, as well. If you get paid bi-weekly, for example, your paychecks will be more frequent and smaller than if you get paid just once a month. If you get paid monthly, you will see fewer but larger paychecks. It's important to budget accordingly.
Washington Median Household Income
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Tax Day is a lot less painful for Washington-dwellers than for workers in many other parts of the country. That's because the Evergreen State does not levy income taxes at the state level. Lawmakers have considered introducing a state income tax in recent years but no attempt has been successful so far. That's good news for you and your paycheck. If you've moved to the state from an area with high income taxes like California, New Jersey or Minnesota, you may be pleasantly surprised by how much more of your salary ends up in your bank account.
While local sales taxes in Seattle, Tacoma and some other metro areas are significantly higher than the national average, these cities – and all areas in Washington – are devoid of local income taxes, as well.
How You Can Affect Your Washington Paycheck
While you don’t have to worry about paying state or local income taxes in Washington, there’s no escaping federal income tax. However, there are certain steps you may be able to take to reduce how much you owe in taxes.
One method is to put more of your salary in accounts like a 401(k) or Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA). If you contribute more money to accounts like these, your take-home pay will be less but since the money is deducted from your paycheck before taxes are applied, you will be lowering your taxable income. That could mean you owe less in taxes. The money you stash in a HSA or FSA can be used to pay for certain medical-related expenses like copays or some prescriptions. Keep in mind though, the funds you put into these accounts have expiration dates. If you don't use the money by the deadline, you'll lose it.
You can also choose to boost your Washington paychecks by asking your employer for a raise or to work additional hours if you are eligible for overtime.
With no state or local income taxes, you might have an easier time saving up for a down payment for a home. If you’re looking to make the move, consider taking a look at our guide to Washington mortgage rates and getting a mortgage in Washington.
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.
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 2016 5-Year American Community Survey, MIT Living Wage Study, Bureau of Labor Statistics