Free California Payroll Tax Calculator and CA Tax Rates

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    Federal Information

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    State Information

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    Locale Information

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    Voluntary Deductions

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    Calculate Paycheck

Welcome to our payroll calculator!

Before we jump in, who are you using this calculator for?

Thanks!

Our calculators are designed for employers, and they’ll ask for information you may not have. For a better experience, please check out this employee-focused paycheck calculator.

How much did your employee earn?

Gross Pay: This is the total amount of wages your employee earned before taxes and deductions are withheld.


For salaried employees, gross pay equals their annual salary divided by the number of pay periods per year. For hourly employees, gross pay equals the number of hours worked multiplied by their hourly wage.


(Don’t forget to add on any tips, commissions, or bonuses!)

Gross Pay Method: Is the gross pay amount based on your employee’s annual compensation, or by how many hours they worked in the last pay period?

Gross Pay YTD: Enter the total gross pay your employee has earned this year, prior to this paycheck. Normally, this can be found on the last pay stub.

Pay Frequency: How often do you normally issue paychecks?

Check Date: Enter the check date that should appear on your paycheck.

Is your employee exempt from any taxes?

Federal: In some cases, public and governmental employees are exempt from federal taxes. Check “yes” if your employee is exempt and Federal taxes should not be deducted.

FICA: In some cases, public and governmental employees are exempt from FICA. Check “yes” if your employee is exempt and FICA taxes should not be deducted.

Medicare: In some cases, public and governmental employees are exempt from Medicare taxes. Check “yes” if your employee is exempt and Medicare taxes should not be deducted.

Please enter your employee’s withholding information.

2020 W4: Would you like to use the 2020 withholding tables? Here’s an article that covers the 2020 W-4 updates if you aren’t sure.

Federal Filing Status: Select your employee’s filing status for federal withholding. This helps determine how much federal tax will be withheld.

Two Jobs: If the employee indicated that they have more than one job or are married and filing jointly with a working spouse, select Yes here.

Dependents Amount: Enter the amount your employee listed on Line 3 of their W-4, if any. This is where they claim dependents.

Other Income: If your employee listed another other income on line 4(a) of their W-4, enter the amount here.

Deductions: Enter any deductions that your employee listed on line 4(b) of their W-4, if applicable.

Additional Federal Withholding: If your employee has asked to have additional funds withheld from each paycheck, enter the amount here. If they have not, enter “0”.

Round Federal Withholding: Would you like us to round your employee’s withholding totals to the nearest dollar? (It’s not required, but it is permitted)

Now, add information for their state.

State: Select the state where withholding should be calculated. It should be the same state where the work was performed.

Now, add locale information if applicable.

Does your employee have any voluntary deductions?

Please add any additional deductions for items like health insurance, 401(k), HSAs/FSAs, or any other benefits.


Select type of deduction needed:

401(k)

Add deduction

HSA

Add deduction

Custom

Add deduction

Let’s finish crunching the numbers!

Click the button below to see your paycheck calculated.

Here’s your paycheck information:

Leave payroll to us.

We do all the hard work to set you up for just $40 + $6 per employee.

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Updated: May 9, 2024

There’s one thing all California small business owners have in common: payroll taxes. Figuring out how to pay employees can be a huge hassle, but our payroll calculator at the top of this page simplifies the process. In addition, you’ll find many resources below that you can use to stay on top of your payroll taxes and other state requirements.

Fast facts about California payroll taxes

  • The state follows a progressive income tax structure, meaning the more money an employee earns, the higher their income tax rate
  • There are four state payroll taxes in California—Unemployment Insurance, Employment Training Tax, State Disability Tax, and Personal Income Tax
  • C corps in California may be required to file a California Corporation Franchise or income tax return, which is known as a Form 100
  • All new hires must be reported to the state’s New Employee Registry within 20 days
  • The state tax rate for C Corps is 8.84%

Federal payroll taxes for California employers

You can use our California payroll calculator to figure out your employees’ federal withholding as well as any additional taxes you are responsible for paying as the employer.

 

Here’s a quick overview of what you need to know when you’re calculating federal payroll taxes. If you would like to get into each calculation in detail, check out our step-by-step guide.

 

  • Calculate Gross Wages:
    • For all hourly employees, multiply their hours worked by their pay rate (and don’t forget to pay the higher rate for any overtime hours worked).
    • For all salaried employees, divide each employee’s annual salary by the number of pay periods your business has.
  • Calculate Any Pre-Tax Deductions:
    • If your employees contribute to 401(k), FSA, or any other pre-tax withholding accounts, subtract the amount of these calculations from their gross pay prior to applying payroll taxes.
  • Deduct (and Match) FICA Taxes:
    • Social Security Tax: Withhold 6.2% of each employee’s taxable wages up until they reach total earnings of $168,600 for the year. As an employer, you will need to match this tax one-for-one.
    • Medicare Tax: Withhold 1.45% of each employee’s taxable wages up until they have reached total earnings of $200,000 for the year. Employers are also required  to match this tax. However, for earnings above $200,000, employees need to pay what’s called an Additional Medicare Tax of 0.9%, along with the 1.45%. Only the employee is responsible for paying the Additional Medicare Tax.
  • Pay FUTA Unemployment Tax:
    • You will need to pay 6% of the first $7,000 of taxable income for each employee per year. If you pay state unemployment taxes, you are eligible for a tax credit of up to 5.4%, making your FUTA tax rate effectively 0.6%. FUTA tax is the sole responsibility of the employer. Your employees are not responsible for paying this tax.
  • Deduct Federal Income Tax:
    • Federal income tax ranges from 0% to 37%. Further withholding information can be found through the IRS Publication 15-T.
  • Subtract Any Post-Tax Deductions:
    • Your employees could be responsible for post-tax deductions such as court-ordered wage garnishments, child support, etc. If so, you will need to withhold these deductions from their paychecks.

 

Once you have all your withholding figured out, there are a series of quarterly and annual payroll tax filings you’ll need to perform. But before you write out your paychecks, you’ll need to calculate and withhold California state taxes as well.

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What is the state payroll tax in California?

Now that we’re done with federal income taxes, let’s tackle California state taxes. The State of California wins for the highest top marginal income tax in the country. It’s a progressive income tax, meaning the more money your employees make, the higher the income tax. The following graph provides insight into the varied tax rates in place for single filers.

 

California Taxable Income Rate
$0+ 1.00%
$10,099.00+ 2.00%
$23,942.00+ 4.00%
$37,788.00+ 6.00%
$52,455.00+ 8.00%
$66,295.00+ 9.30%
$338,639.00+ 10.30%
$406,364.00+ 11.30%
$677,275.00+ 12.30%
$1,000,000+ 14.40%

 

More information can be found on the California Franchise Tax Board website.

 

The Golden State has four (4) state payroll taxes administered by the Employment Development Department (EDD):

 

1) Unemployment Insurance, 2) Employment Training Tax, 3) State Disability Tax, and 4) Personal Income Tax. You’re responsible for paying half of those taxes, while the other half should be withheld from each employee’s paycheck. Details and rates can be found on the EDD website.

 

In addition, California’s employment development department has released their 2024 employer’s guide, which includes information to help business owners stay compliant.

How often do you pay payroll taxes in California?

In the state of California, employers are required to make payroll tax payments on a quarterly basis. This applies specifically to employers that have paid more than $100 to one or more employees during the course of a calendar year. In addition, this requirement must be met no matter what type of business you run — whether it’s non-profit, for profit, or you simply hire a nanny to help around your home.

 

The two primary taxes employers are required to pay are:

  • Unemployment Insurance (UI)
  • Employment Training Tax (ETT).

 

In addition, some employers may also be required to pay State Disability Insurance (SDI) and California Personal Income Tax (PIT) on a quarterly basis, depending on the size of their payroll.

 

Unemployment Insurance: The state of California administers an unemployment insurance (UI) program that’s part of the national U.S. Department of Labor’s program. The funds from this program provided by employers are used to distribute temporary pay to individuals who become unemployed for various reasons that are beyond their control.

 

Employment training tax: A separate fund administered by the state of California, the employee training tax (ETT) provides money to train employees in certain industries. ETT funds are provided by employers in the state of California and are aimed at enhancing the skills of the workforce and ensuring that the state continues to have a healthy labor market.

 

Quarterly SDI and PIT payments are only required to be made by employers or businesses that accumulate less than $350 in state PIT — or Personal Income Tax — withholdings.

 

How is CA SDI tax calculated?

A program that’s fully funded by employee payroll tax deductions, here’s how to calculate California’s SDI tax as an employer.

 

  • Multiply the total taxable wages for the payroll period by the current SDI rate. To do this, you’ll need to know the most current rate, which at the moment is 1.2% (You can check the rate here.) Using the rate of 1.2% — or 0.0120 — an employee who earned $500 in wages would pay a $6 SDI tax. (500 x 1.0120 = 506).

 

  • Remember, the SDI rate changes each year, so be sure to double check to confirm you’re using the correct percentage in your calculations. The California Employment Development Department also mails a notice to employers each December to inform you of the rates for the following year.

 

Is California SDI paid by employer or employee?

SDI taxes in California are completely funded by employee contributions. The contributions to this fund are deducted from each employee’s payroll or salary payments. Employees are not able to opt out of this program, as is mandatory under the California Unemployment Insurance Code.

 

Is California SDI tax mandatory?

Yes, per the California Unemployment Insurance Code, employees must pay into the state disability program. There are two exceptions to this rule however. They include:

  • Cases where the employer or a majority of employees in a company apply for approval of what’s known as a Voluntary Plan, which replaces the state’s SDI coverage. To find out more about this alternative visit Voluntary Plan Information here.
  • The second exception to the mandatory SDI tax involves the employee adhering to the faith or teaching of a particular religion, denomination, or organization “whose creed, tenets, or principles require dependence on prayer for healing, they may request an exemption.” In such case, the employe is required to complete and submit via mail the Religious Exemption Certificate (DE 5067) (PDF).  This certificate must be mailed to the address provided on the form. Exemption is not automatic, is must be reviewed and approved by the state.

Carrying workers’ comp is a requirement in most states, including California. Learn how policies work, how this type of coverage protects employees from workplace injuries and illnesses, and what employers should know in our guide to California workers’ compensation insurance.

How do I pay my California state payroll taxes?

California state payroll taxes can be paid in several ways:

    • Via e-services for businesses: Employers can file wage reports, make payments, update payroll tax accounts, as well as register, close, or re-open an employer payroll tax account account using the e-Services for Businesses platform. The platform also allows employers to conduct many other tasks including reporting new employees and independent contractors.
  • Express Pay: Another option, employers can make a payroll tax payment using Express Pay. No enrollment is necessary.

 

Employers also have several other options to submit payroll tax payments, including:

  • Federal/State Employment Taxes (FSET) – Bulk Transmissions: The FSET platform offers businesses a standardized method for making tax payments and reporting employment tax and wage information in Extensible Markup Language (XML) through a secure application-to-application transmission.
  • Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT): Payroll tax payments can be made this way via Automated Clearing House (ACH) Debit or Automated Clearing House Credit (ACH).
  • Credit Card and PayNearMe – Employers also have the option to pay with credit card or from a participating PayNearMe location. This approach includes a transaction fee.

 

Submitting tax returns, wage reports and payroll tax deposit coupons by mail is no longer allowed unless your business has an “approved e-file and e-pay mandate waiver.

 

Are there other numbers you need to run, maybe you rewarded an employee with a bonus or need to figure out a gross-up? All you have to do is go to the main payroll calculator for access to a variety of other tools. From here, you can get an idea of the costs associated with starting a 401(k) or calculate an employee’s tipped wages.

Did you know?

Per the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014, as of July 1, 2015, an employee who works in California for 30 or more days within a year of the beginning of employment, is entitled to paid sick leave.

  • Employers must provide at least three days (or 24 hours) of paid sick leave per year to eligible employees.
  • Employees can earn up to one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

Other items to keep in mind

Retirement requirements

Did you know that almost all employers in the state of California are required by law to provide their employees with access to a retirement savings plan? Learn more in our Calsavers program guide.

 

New hire reporting

All businesses are required to report new hires. In California, such hires must be reported to the state’s New Employee Registry within 20 days of the individual beginning their first day on the job. Once reported, the state will review your new employee against outstanding child support records in order to identify whether the individual owes back child support payments. If an outstanding payment turns up, the state will enforce payment orders via the employee’s paycheck.

 

Information provided to the state is also sent to a national directory of new hires to determine whether there may be outstanding child support payments from other states. Similarly, if this search finds payments due, the state will take action to recover that money from your employee’s paycheck.

 

As an employer you also have reporting responsibilities when rehiring an employee. The state defines a rehire as someone with whom:

  • You had previously ended an employment relationship
  • And who has been separated from your company for at least 60 consecutive days

 

Corporate income tax in California

If your small business is a C corporation, you may be required to file a California Corporation Franchise or Income Tax Return (known as Form 100). You will need to file this document with the state if your business is:

  • Incorporated in California
  • Doing business in California
  • Registered to do business in California with the Secretary of State
  • Receives California source income

 

In addition, there are specific guidelines surrounding your state income tax dues as a C corp in the Golden State. The state income tax rate for C Corps (excluding banks and financial institutions) is 8.84%.

 

Additionally, a minimum franchise tax of $800 must be paid the first quarter of each accounting period. This tax must be paid even if your corporation is inactive or operates at a loss. However, newly incorporated corporations do not have to pay the minimum franchise tax during their first year of business.

 

There are also exceptions to the franchise tax. If your business meets both of the following criteria, you get a free pass on the franchise tax bill:

  • The tax year is 15 days or less
  • Your business did not conduct any business in the state during those 15 days

 

Paid sick leave (law)

In California, employers must provide at least three days (or 24 hours) of paid sick leave per year to eligible full-time, part-time, and temporary workers who meet these employees under the permanent paid sick law (PSL).

 

Qualifications include:

  • Employees that work for the same employer for at least 30 days within a year in California
  • Complete a 90-day employment period before taking any paid sick leave

 

It accrues at a rate of one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Employers may choose to offer more than the minimum required amount of paid sick leave.

 

Now write those paychecks!

Feel that wave of relief? You’ve checked “payroll taxes” off your to-do list, so you can move onto the important things. Once each employee’s net pay is calculated (taking deductions and withholdings into consideration), you’re in the clear. All you have to worry about is getting your employees paid on time, as well as setting aside whatever you owe in FICA and UI taxes. Those numbers can add up quickly!

 

You can pay federal taxes online to the IRS here. Plus, here’s everything you need to know about federal tax filings.

Additional California payroll tax resources

Our calculator is here to help, but of course, you can never learn enough, especially when it comes to payroll taxes. Here are some additional resources and contact information to help you run California payroll:

 

State of California Employment Development Department (EDD): (866) 333-4606 | E-Services for Business | Register Online

 

Franchise Tax Board (payroll tax assistance): (800) 852-5711

 

Being a California employer isn’t always easy. If you want to take some of the administrative burdens off your shoulders, there are a number of terrific payroll software companies that can do all the heavy lifting for you.

Other useful paycheck calculators

If you’re a California employer, we have a simple payroll calculator at the top of this page that handles the math (and required tax deductions) for you in just a few clicks. That said, employers sometimes have to manage situations that require a bit more number crunching when cutting paychecks. For example, if you reward employees with bonus pay, Uncle Sam considers this income, and taxes must be withheld. On the other hand, when an employee leaves for another job, you may need to figure out a final paycheck. So, if you need a bit more help with the math, check out the additional calculators listed below.

 

All of the rates on this page are based on local legislation and can change at any time. Always consult a tax professional if you are unsure about your obligations.

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Frequently asked questions about Calfornia payroll taxes

  • What is payroll tax withholding (PIT) in California? 

    PIT withholding refers to the state’s personal income tax withholding requirement for employers. California employers must withhold a certain amount of state income tax from their employees’ wages and remit it to the state on their behalf; the amount is based on the employee’s taxable income and the withholding tables used by the state of California. Funds from PIT go toward maintaining public services such as: schools, infrastructure such as roads, park maintenance, and health and human services.

  • How much is California’s state tax?

    Income tax rates in California vary based on an individual’s income and range from 1% to 12.3%, with higher rates applying to individuals with higher income levels. A tax rate schedule is available from the California Franchise Tax Board.

  • Who pays the California state disability insurance (SDI) tax?

    SDI is paid for with a portion of an employee’s wages, and employers in California are responsible for withholding and remitting SDI tax on behalf of their workers; this amount usually appears as “CASDI” on an employee’s pay stub.

  • Does OnPay help California businesses manage payroll taxes? 

    OnPay withholds all payroll taxes (federal, state, and local) during each pay run and makes all tax payments, in addition to filing Form 941 quarterly and Form 940 at year’s end for clients based in California.

  • What is the employment training tax (ETT)? 

    The ETT, paid by employers, trains workers in certain industries to make California businesses more competitive. The ETT rate for 2024 is 0.1 percent, and the taxable wage limit is $7,000 per employee, per calendar year.