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California State Income Taxes

The state of California collects income taxes on April 15th, much the way the IRS and 44 other states do.

This page:

  • Lists basic California state tax information

  • Links to the major California income tax forms

  • Shows you how you can save time and money by e-filing

File Your Federal & State Taxes With 1 Click

If you use TurboTax to file your federal tax forms, you can also file your local and state taxes at the same time by simply transferring all the information you already submitted to the IRS.

TurboTax helps you take advantage of all possible credits and deductions that you might otherwise miss, thus ensuring the largest possible refund. You'll save time, avoid costly errors, and get your your state refund (which may be substantial) much faster than if you mail a paper return.

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California state taxes at a glance:

Tax Rate Range: Low - 1.0%; High - 9.3%
Income Brackets: Lowest - $6,319; Highest - $41,477
Number of Brackets: *6
Tax Credits: Single - $87; Married - $174; Dependents - $72
Standard Deduction: Single - $3,004; Married filing Jointly - $6,008
Medical/Dental Deduction: Same as Federal Taxes
Federal Income Tax Deduction: None

Note: For married taxpayers there are 12 brackets.

*this amount is for single filers. Income bracket amounts are doubled for married taxpayers filing jointly.

Filing Your California state tax return

The California state tax return is quite similar to the federal tax return. Capital gains are taxed at the same ate as they are on your federal return.

FIRSt, on your California tax return, you must use the same filing status as that used on the federal return, unless your circumstances allow you to do otherwise. These circumstance deal with your spouse being in the military or a nonresident.

If you itemize your deductions on your federal return, you are not required to do so on your state tax return. Choose whichever method benefits you the most.

California allows several tax credits, which can be found in the 540 Personal Income tax booklet. The common tax credits are for:

  • adoption expenses,
  • dependent parent care,
  • child care, and
  • other state taxes.

California also utilizes the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) for those taxpayers with large incomes.

As for deductions, California allows the same deductions as your federal return does except for state and local income taxes, foreign income taxes and war profits and excess profits taxes.

Retirement benefits are taxable in California, even when the taxpayer has just moved to California and the retirement benefits are from a different state.

Also, capital gains are taxed at the same rate as ordinary income in California regardless of the holding period of the asset.

Finally, a nonresident working in California must file a California income tax return.

You can work on your California tax return online while filing your federal return (you can work on it for free, and pay nothing until you are ready to file).

Note: if you are filing more than one state return, you must file a paper return for each additional state, as TurboTax for The Web only allows one state prep.

California income tax forms

The main California tax forms are:

Form 540 | 2017 California Individual Income Tax Return| Instructions

Form 540A | 2017 California Individual Income Tax Return - Short |

If you need California income tax forms that are not listed here, you can download them from the California tax forms site.

Or, just simply e-file!

Additional CA state taxes help

If you need help with your federal tax return, start with our basic guide to tax filing.

For additional help with filing CA income tax returns, see the official site of the California Franchise Tax Board..

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