Military

Your domicile

If your domicile is California, we consider you a resident, and you pay tax on all income while permanently stationed here.

If you come to California because of permanent change of station (PCS) orders, you do not become a resident. Generally, you are a resident of the state from which you entered the military.

Domiciled in California

Your domicile is the one place:

  • Where you maintain a true, fixed and permanent home
  • To which you intend to return whenever you are absent

Domiciled outside California

We may require you to file a return if you have California sourced income. Military pay is not California sourced income.

Income can be from:

  • Non-military wages
  • California sales
  • Rental property

Combat and hazard zones

A servicemember who serves, or has served, in a combat zone can exclude up to 100% of combat pay from income. Visit IRS’s Tax Exclusion for Combat Service for more information.

You have 180 days plus the number of days you served in a combat zone or qualified hazardous duty area (QHDA) to file your return.

Visit Tax Information for Military Personnel (FTB Pub 1032) for more information.

Filing requirements

Residents are taxed on all income, regardless of source.

Part-year residents are taxed on all income received while a resident and only on income from California sources while a nonresident.

Source income can be from:

  • Services performed here
  • Rent from real and tangible personal property
  • The sale or transfer of real property
  • A business, trade, or profession
  • Gain or loss from the sale of stocks or bonds

Match your filing status and income below. If your income is more than the amount shown, you need to file a tax return.

California gross income

Single or head of household
Age as of December 31, 2018* 0 dependents 1 dependent 2 or more dependents
Under 65 $17,693 $29,926 $39,101
65 or older $23,593 $32,768 $40,108
Married/RDP filing jointly or separately
Age as of December 31, 2018* 0 dependents 1 dependent 2 or more dependents
Both are under 65 $35,388 $47,621 $56,796
One spouse/RDP is 65 or older $41,288 $50,463 $57,803
Both are 65 or older $47,188 $56,363 $63,703
Qualifying widow(er)
Age as of December 31, 2018* 0 dependents 1 dependent 2 or more dependents
Under 65 N/A $29,926 $39,101
65 or older N/A $32,768 $40,108

California adjusted gross income

Single or head of household
Age as of December 31, 2018* 0 dependents 1 dependent 2 or more dependents
Under 65 $14,154 $26,387 $35,562
65 or older $20,054 $29,229 $36,569
Married/RDP filing jointly or separately
Age as of December 31, 2018* 0 dependents 1 dependent 2 or more dependents
Both are under 65 $28,312 $40,545 $49,720
One spouse/RDP is 65 or older $34,212 $43,387 $50,727
Both are 65 or older $40,112 $49,287 $56,627
Qualifying widow(er)
Age as of December 31, 2018* 0 dependents 1 dependent 2 or more dependents
Under 65 N/A $26,387 $35,562
65 or older N/A $29,229 $36,569

Dependent filing requirement

If you can be claimed as a dependent, you have a different standard deduction. It cannot be more than the normal standard deduction. Your standard deduction is the larger of:

  • Your earned income plus $350, or
  • $1,050 for the taxable year

What form to file

Servicemembers domiciled in California

If you have a filing requirement, use either:

Visit 540 2EZ Booklet or the 540 Booklet for more information.

Servicemembers domiciled outside of California

If you have a filing requirement, use either:

Visit 540NR Booklet for more information.

A nonresident return is required when a resident spouse and a nonresident spouse wish to file a joint return.

Community property

California is a community property state. If one spouse is a resident of California and the other is not, you may be required to report income earned outside of California.

Visit Guidelines for Determining Residency Status (FTB Publication 1031) for more information.

Military Spouses Residency Relief Act (MSRRA)

You may qualify for a California tax exemption under the MSRAA if all of the following apply:

  • You’re not in the military
  • You’re legally married to the military servicemember
  • You live with your spouse/RDP
  • Your military spouse must have permanent change of station (PCS) orders to California
  • Your domicile is a state other than California

For tax years on or after 2018, you may elect to use the same residence as your active duty spouse.

Retirement and disability

Retirement

If you’re a resident, your military retirement pay is taxable. This includes all military pension income, regardless of where you were stationed or domiciled while on active duty. Retirement pay is reported on IRS Form 1099-R.

Disability

California law conforms to Federal law, which determines the tax treatment of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability benefits. Visit IRS’s Tax information for members of the military for more information.

Free filing options

Most military bases offer free filing options through the Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

Visit Get free tax help for more information.

Veterans Affairs (VA) status letter

An Individual Status Letter (FTB 4148), does the following:

  • Helps you get student loans or VA financing
  • Shows lenders and third parties, such as employers, that you have no outstanding California income tax obligations

You can get a letter for:

  • Yourself
  • A minor child under age 18
  • An individual over age 18
  • Another individual

How you get a letter

We can provide a letter only after the date tax returns are due for the current year. Visit due dates for more information.

Field office

Visit one of our field offices and bring the following:

  • Social security card
  • Valid photo identification
  • Birth certificate
  • The individual’s signed statement that authorizes us to release information on their behalf if:
    • The individual is over age 18
    • You are the individual’s authorized representative

We accept copies of social security cards, birth certificates, and photo identifications.

Contact us

If you are unable to visit a field office, contact us.

Phone
(800) 852-5711
(916) 845-6500 (outside the U.S.)
Weekdays, 7 AM to 5 PM