About what percent of my paycheck should I estimate for taxes?

I am a recent college grad, in the process of finding a “real” job. I am trying to figure out about how much I’ll take home per month after taxes, depending on my salary, once I get hired. I am in Wisconsin, and I expect to make somewhere in the area of mid 20’s to low 30’s per year (depending if I keep my PT job as well). About what percent of that should I subtract for taxes? Or, where can I find information to make a reasonable estimate? I am trying to figure how much money I will have available for rent, food, car, ect. once I really start working. Thanks.

You can go to the Post Office right now and pick up a tax year 2002 Federal Income Tax booklet for forms 1040 and 1040A. You can probably get a state income tax booklet at your local library. If the state book can’t be found it probably isn’t too serious because they usually aren’t too much. The federal booklet will allow you to compute your tax. In addition, once you do get hired, your employer will take out witholding based on your pay and the number of exemptions you select. If you are single the number of exemptions is 1.

I make $36K and usually bring bring home about 68% but that includes 2% going to 401K, insurance, and the occasional union dues.

This stuff is all online at the IRS site. For example, here is a document with the tax tables. The tax tables show you how much tax you pay after you subtract personal exemptions and either the standard deduction or itemized deductions from your gross income. You may also want to check out the W-4 form, which your employer will require you to complete to determine how much withholdings should come out of each paycheck.

These documents are all in PDF format. If you do not have Adobe Acrobat Reader, the site also has a link to a free download.

For the income level you are estimating, 15% federal tax would be a good ballpark. Don’t forget state taxes, FICA, Medicare.