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federal income tax brackets

The federal income tax rates remain unchanged for the 2019 and 2020 tax years: 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35% and 37%. The income brackets, though, are adjusted slightly for inflation. Read on for more about the federal income tax brackets for Tax Year 2019 (due July 15, 2020) and Tax Year 2020 (due April 15, 2021).

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The Federal Income Tax Brackets

The U.S. currently has seven federal income tax brackets, with rates of 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35% and 37%. If you’re one of the lucky few to earn enough to fall into the 37% bracket, that doesn’t mean that the entirety of your taxable income will be subject to a 37% tax. Instead, 37% is your top marginal tax rate.

With a marginal tax rate, you pay that rate only on the amount of your income that falls into a certain range. To understand how marginal rates work, consider the bottom tax rate of 10%. For single filers, all income between $0 and $9,700 is subject to a 10% tax rate. If you have $9,900 in taxable income, the first $9,700 is subject to the 10% rate and the remaining $200 is subject to the tax rate of the next bracket (12%). Check out the charts below to see what your top marginal tax rate is.

Federal Income Tax Bracket for 2019 (filing deadline: July 15, 2020)

Single Married Filing Jointly Married Filing Separately Head of Household
10% $0 – $9,700 $0 – 19,400 $0 – $9,700 $0 – $13,850
12% $9,701 – $39,475 $19,400 – $78,950 $9,701 – $39,475 $13,851 – $52,850
22% $39,476 – $84,200 $78,951 – $168,400 $39,476 – $84,200 $52,851 – $84,200
24% $84,201 – $160,725 $168,401 – $321,450 $84,201 – $160,725 $84,201 – $160,700
32% $160,726 – $204,100 $321,451 – $408,200 $160,726 – $204,100 $160,701 – $204,100
35% $204,101 – $510,300 $408,201 – $612,350 $204,101 – $510,300 $204,101 – $510,300
37% $510,301+ $612,351+ $510,301+ $510,301+

Federal Income Tax Bracket for 2020 (filing deadline: April 15, 2021)

Single Married Filing Jointly Married Filing Separately Head of Household
10% $0 – $9,875 $0 – $19,750 $0 – $9,875 $0 – $14,100
12% $9,876 – $40,125 $19,751 – $80,250 $9,876 – $40,125 $14,101 – $53,700
22% $40,126 – $85,525 $80,251 – $171,050 $40,126 – $85,525 $53,701 – $85,500
24% $85,526 – $163,300 $171,051 – $326,600 $85,526 – $163,300 $85,501 – $163,300
32% $163,301 – $207,350 $326,601 – $414,700 $163,301 – $207,350 $163,301 – $207,350
35% $207,351 – $518,400 $414,701 – $622,050 $207,351 – $518,400 $207,351 – $518,400
37% $518,401+ $622,051+ $518,401+ $518,401+

In rare cases, such as when one spouse is subject to tax refund garnishing because of unpaid debts to the state or federal government, opting for the “Married filing separately” tax status can be advantageous. Typically, though, filing jointly provides a tax break.

Only single people should use the single filing status. Single taxpayers who have dependents, though, should file as “Head of household.” To qualify for this filing status, you must pay more than half of household expenses, be unmarried and have a qualifying child or dependent.

Understanding the Current Federal Income Tax Brackets

federal income tax brackets

If someone asks you for your tax bracket, the person is almost certainly asking for your top marginal tax rate. That’s why, when you’re reading the news, you’ll hear reference to “filers in the top bracket” or maybe “taxpayers in the 37% bracket.”

America’s top federal income tax bracket has fluctuated quite a bit since the federal income tax was first introduced. It’s hard to believe now, but top federal income tax rates were once as high as 92%.

The tax reform passed by President Trump and Congressional Republicans lowered the top rate for five of the seven brackets. It also increased the standard deduction to nearly twice its 2017 amount.

The 2019 tax year standard deduction is $12,200 for single filers and married filers who file separately. Joint filers will have a $24,400 deduction and heads of household get $18,350.

Bottom Line

federal income tax brackets

Tax filers will need the 2019 federal income tax brackets when they file taxes in 2020 (new deadline: July 15, 2020). Your top tax bracket doesn’t just depend on your salary. It also depends on other sources of income (such as interest and capital gains) and your deductions. Depending on where you fall within a tax bracket, deductions could knock you into a lower tax bracket, reducing money your tax liability (or increasing the size of your tax refund).

Tips for Tax Filers

  • If you need even more time than July 15 to file your 2019 taxes, you can use Form 4868 to get another three months (to October 15.) But remember, this extension does not apply to payments. So if you owe taxes, you should estimate what you owe and pay what you can to avoid a penalty and interest.
  • If you’re precise with numbers and good at record-keeping, you’re probably fine using  tax preparation software (like TurboTax or H&R Block). But if you want help minimizing your tax liability, you should consider hiring a financial advisor who either specializes in taxes or works with someone who does. Our quick matching tool can help you find a local financial advisor. There’s no obligation and it’s free.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/wernerimages, ©iStock.com/elenaleonova, ©iStock.com/Pgiam

Amelia Josephson
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