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Federal law requires a 25% withholding on separate severance payments. The amount of the actual tax you'll pay will depend on your total income and deductions. But severance pay is taxed as income. The $15,000 will be included as wages on your W-2 at the end of the year, because severance is a wage replacement. California will also tax the payment as income, again, depending on your total income and deductions.
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