Skip to main content









Donation Heart Ribbon

California Carries A Moderate Tax Burden

— The California Budget Project found income taxes are high here compared to other states, but property taxes are relatively low. Rich people pay the most in dollars, but maybe not in relative terms.

"in dollar terms they pay more. They have much larger incomes. They buy more things,” Said California Budget Project President Jean Ross. “But in terms of how much of your income goes to taxes, it's actually those at the low- and middle-end of the income distribution."

The report finds people in the bottom-fifth of the income scale pay about 11 percent of their income in state taxes. People earning the top 1 percent, pay less than 8 percent of their income in taxes.

The study also found more than 600,000 California taxpayers earn more than $200,000 a year. Of them, 2,400 have enough tax credits that they pay no income tax.

Proposition 13 gets credit for moderating California's tax burden. The most recent data on taxes in California and the rest of the nation finds the state ranked15th nationally when state taxes are figured as a percentage of overall income.

"we have low property taxes, relatively high income taxes; some relatively low, so called, sin taxes," said Ross.

There are some areas where California can do better.

The study says California loses about $1 billion in unpaid sales taxes. That comes mostly from out of state retailers who refuse to collect taxes on behalf of California.

Consumers frequently don't know they have to pay those taxes, said Ross.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or subscribe to our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.