Tool | January 2018

State-by-State Guide to Taxes

Compare state tax rates and rules -- on income, ordinary purchases, gas, sin products, property, and more -- across the U.S.


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The Bottom Line
Map of California

Least Tax-Friendly

The Golden State's reputation as a high-tax destination is built in part on how aggresively it goes after big earners, with a 13.3% bracket that kicks in at $1 million (for single filers) of taxable income. But for the income models that we used to calculate average effective tax rates, California came out midpack.

Still, Californians pay high sales taxes, as well as a high fuel taxes on all that driving they have to do. It's one of Kiplinger's top ten least tax-friendly states.

Sales Tax

7.25% state levy. Localities can add as much as 2.5%, and the average combined rate is 8.25%, according to the Tax Foundation.

Income Tax Range

Low: 1% (on up to $16,030 of taxable income for married joint filers and up to $8,015 for those filing individually)

High: 13.3% (on more than $1,074,996 for married joint filers and $1 million for those filing individually)

Effective income tax rate: 3.1%/individual, 5%/joint

See’s Retiree Tax Map to learn how California taxes Social Security income and other forms of retirement income.

Motor Fuel Taxes

Gasoline: $0.54 per gallon.
Diesel: $0.56 per gallon.

Property Taxes

Median property tax on California's median home value of $385,500 is $3,104.

See’s Retiree Tax Map for details on tax breaks for seniors in California.

Vehicle Taxes

California charges an annual fee that functions much like a property tax. The rate is 0.65% of the actual purchase price and is reduced for the first 11 years of ownership. For example, the VLF on a two-year-old vehicle purchased for $25,000 would be $147.

Sin Taxes

Cigarettes: $2.87 per pack (increase from $0.87 effective as of April 2017), and San Francisco has a local tax of $0.20 per pack
All other tobacco products: 28% of the wholesale price

Beer: $0.20 per gallon
Wine: $0.20 per gallon ($0.30 for sparkling wine)
Liquor: $3.30 per gallon. Alcohol that is over 100 proof: $6.60 per gallon. Vapor/E-juice: 27.30% of wholesale price. Marijuana: Effective as of 1/1/18, 15% sales tax on marijuana, $9.25 per ounce of flowers (cultivation) and $2.75 per ounce of leaves (cultivation).

Travel Taxes

Hotel: No statewide lodging tax, but cities and other localities can levy taxes. For example, the city of Long Beach has a 12% rate. The city of Anaheim has a 15% rate. Sales tax isn't collected.

Rental cars: No statewide tax, but localities may levy them. Sales tax is due.

Taxes On Wireless Service


Inheritance and Estate Taxes

There is no inheritance tax or estate tax.

Oddball Tax

High-proof tax: If your alcohol is more than 100 proof, the liquor tax doubles, to $6.60 per gallon. So, watching the sun go down with a barrel-proof bourbon is going to set you back a bit more in California.

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