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Doing your taxes can be, well, taxing, let’s say. So many numbers. So many forms. And so much pressure to make sure everything is right. And in 2019, things became a little more complicated because there was so much new information—fortunately much of it positive, due to tax cuts.

Most notably, the Tax Cuts and Job Acts of 2017 ushered in a new configuration of tax brackets. For 2018, the seven federal tax brackets are:

  • 10%
  • 12 %
  • 22%
  • 24 %
  • 32 %
  • 35 %
  • 37 %

These are “marginal” tax rates which means that part of your income will be taxed at 10 percent, the next part will be taxed at 12 percent and so on…depending on your taxable income and filing status.

Read on to find complete tables that will show the various tax brackets and federal income tax rates for 2018, and then the updated tables that will correlate to your tax return for 2019.

How Tax Brackets Work

Tax brackets can be confusing because your entire income doesn’t fall into one federal tax bracket, meaning which you don’t pay just one rate of tax. And even though that means more math, trust us, it’s a good thing because the first bucket of your money is taxed at a lower rate, and then you pay a higher percentage as you make more money.

The IRS decides how much tax you owe by dividing your taxable income into sections or brackets. In that way, the federal tax system is “progressive,” which means that you will pay more on portions of your income as you progressively make more.  And there is not just one single tax bracket chart, as you will see below; the sum of income in each bracket differs depending on whether you’re single or married or the “head of household.”

The way you define which “tax bracket” you belong in is where the upper level of your income hits. So, let’s say you are a single filer making $85,000. That means that you are in the 24% tax bracket for federal taxes. But as we noted, that doesn’t mean the whole $85,000 will be taxed at 24%. Instead it will break down like this.

  • $9,525 of your income will be taxed at 10%
  • $29,175 will be taxed at 12%
  • $43,800 will be taxed at 22%
  • $2,500 will be taxed at 24%

The federal income tax bracket charts below show you the tax owed, and as you’ll see, this amount will change depending on your “filing status.”

Note that these IRS income tax brackets only apply to federal taxes; check with your state to find out how your income is taxed locally.

2018 Federal Income Tax Brackets

Below are the federal tax brackets for taxes due in April 2019,for your income earned in 2018.

Tax Brackets for Single Filers

Tax Rate Taxable Income Bracket Tax Owed
10% $0 to $9,525 10% of taxable income
12% $9,526 to $38,700 $952.50 plus 12% of the amount over $9,525
22% $38,701 to $82,500 $4,453.50 plus 22% of the amount over $38,700
24% $82,501 to $157,500 $14,089.50 plus 24% of the amount over $82,500
32% $157,501 to $200,000 $32,089.50 plus 32% of the amount over $157,500
35% $200,001 to $500,000 $45,689.50 plus 35% of the amount over $200,000
37% $500,001 or more $150,689.50 plus 37% of the amount over $500,000

 

Tax Brackets for Married Filing Jointly

Tax Rate Taxable Income Bracket Tax Owed
10% $0 to $19,050 10% of taxable income
12% $19,051 to $77,400 $1,905 plus 12% of the amount over $19,050
22% $77,401 to $165,000 $8,907 plus 22% of the amount over $77,400
24% $165,001 to $315,000 $28,179 plus 24% of the amount over $165,000
32% $315,001 to $400,000 $64,179 plus 32% of the amount over $315,000
35% $400,001 to $600,000 $91,379 plus 35% of the amount over $400,000
37% $600,001 or more $161,379 plus 37% of the amount over $600,000

 

Tax Brackets for Married Filing Separately

Tax Rate Taxable Income Bracket Tax Owed
10% $0 to $9,525 10% of taxable income
12% $9,526 to $38,700 $952.50 plus 12% of the amount over $9,525
22% $38,701 to $82,500 $4,453.50 plus 22% of the amount over $38,700
24% $82,501 to $157,500 $14,089.50 plus 24% of the amount over $82,500
32% $157,501 to $200,000 $32,089.50 plus 32% of the amount over $157,500
35% $200,001 to $300,000 $45,689.50 plus 35% of the amount over $200,000
37% $300,001 or more $80,689.50 plus 37% of the amount over $300,000

 

Tax Brackets for Head of Household

Tax Rate Taxable Income Bracket Tax Owed
10% $0 to $13,600 10% of taxable income
12% $13,601 to $51,800 $1,360 plus 12% of the amount over $13,600
22% $51,801 to $82,500 $5,944 plus 22% of the amount over $51,800
24% $82,501 to $157,500 $12,698 plus 24% of the amount over $82,500
32% $157,501 to $200,000 $30,698 plus 32% of the amount over $157,500
35% $200,001 to $500,000 $44,298 plus 35% of the amount over $200,000
37% $500,001 or more $149,298 plus 37% of the amount over $500,000

 

2019 Federal Income Tax Brackets

Each year the IRS typically change tax brackets slightly. Here is the breakdown for taxes due in April 2020.

Tax Brackets for Single Filers

Tax Rate Taxable Income Bracket Tax Owed
10% $0 to $9,700 10% of taxable income
12% $9,701 to $39,475 $970 plus 12% of the amount over $9,700
22% $39,476 to $84,200 $4,543 plus 22% of the amount over $39,475
24% $84,201 to $160,725 $14,382.50 plus 24% of the amount over $84,200
32% $160,726 to $204,100 $32,748.50 plus 32% of the amount over $160,725
35% $204,101 to $510,300 $46,628.50 plus 35% of the amount over $204,100
37% $510,301 or more $153,798.50 plus 37% of the amount over $510,300

 

Tax Brackets for Married Filing Jointly

Tax Rate Taxable Income Bracket Tax Owed
10% $0 to $19,400 10% of taxable income
12% $19,401 to $78,950 $1,940 plus 12% of the amount over $19,400
22% $78,951 to $168,400 $9,086 plus 22% of the amount over $78,950
24% $168,401 to $321,450 $28,675 plus 24% of the amount over $168,400
32% $321,451 to $408,200 $65,497 plus 32% of the amount over $321,450
35% $408,201 to $612,350 $93,257 plus 35% of the amount over $408,200
37% $612,351 or more $164,709.50 plus 37% of the amount over $612,350

 

 

 

 

Tax Brackets for Married Filing Separately

Tax Rate Taxable Income Bracket Tax Owed
10% $0 to $9,700 10% of taxable income
12% $9,701 to $39,475 $970 plus 12% of the amount over $9,700
22% $39,476 to $84,200 $4,543 plus 22% of the amount over $39,475
24% $84,201 to $160,725 $14,382.50 plus 24% of the amount over $84,200
32% $160,726 to $204,100 $32,748.50 plus 32% of the amount over $160,725
35% $204,101 to $306,175 $46,628.50 plus 35% of the amount over $204,100
37% $306,176 or more $82,354.75 plus 37% of the amount over $306,175

 

Tax Brackets for Head of Household

Tax Rate Taxable Income Bracket Tax Owed
10% $0 to $13,850 10% of taxable income
12% $13,851 to $52,850 $1,385 plus 12% of the amount over $13,850
22% $52,851 to $84,200 $6,065 plus 22% of the amount over $52,850
24% $84,201 to $160,700 $12,962 plus 24% of the amount over $84,200
32% $160,701 to $204,100 $31,322 plus 32% of the amount over $160,700
35% $204,101 to $510,300 $45,210 plus 35% of the amount over $204,100
37% $510,301 or more $152,380 plus 37% of the amount over $510,300

 

How to Qualify for a Lower Tax Bracket—Tax Deductions Vs. Tax Credits

Wondering how you can reduce the amount of income on which you pay taxes? Well, you can make less money, but that’s not typically a goal most people work toward. Instead, you can make sure that you are maximizing the tax deductions for which you legally qualify.

These will differ depending on whether you are self-employed or are paid by an employer and also on whether you take the “standard deduction” or itemize. The “standard deduction” is what everyone can take if they choose not to itemize, that is, list out all their deductions. Taxpayers will choose to itemize if that yields a larger tax deduction, or take the standard deduction otherwise.

The tax cuts law essentially doubled the standard deduction from what it was before, leading fewer people to itemize.

The standard deduction for 2018 is:

  • $12,000 for single filers and married filers filing separately
  • $24,000 for married filers filing jointly
  • $18,000 for heads of household

For 2019 (that is, the taxes you will pay in 2020), the standard deduction amounts will increase slightly:

  • $12,200 for individuals and married filers filing separately
  • $24,400 for married couples filing jointly
  • $18,350 for heads of household

If you do choose to itemize, here are the common standard deductions to consider. Please note that you should consult with a professional tax preparer for advice on whether you qualify for these based on your personal situation to avoid a potential IRS tax audit.

  • Home mortgage interest
  • Contributions to IRA and SEP retirement plans
  • Charitable contributions
  • State and local taxes (known as SALT, the deduction for your state and local income, sales and property taxes are now limited to $10,000 or $5,000 if married and filing separately, which largely only applies to taxpayers in states with high tax rates)
  • Expenses associated with running your own business if you are a business owner

What About Tax Credits?

You might also qualify for tax credits. While they don’t reduce your taxable income or change your tax bracket, they are even better—they literally reduce your income tax liability. In other words, whatever amount of tax you are deemed to owe, you can deduct the entire amount of the tax credit on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

You may qualify for federal or state tax credits, and they vary by income so be sure to talk with a tax professional. Common tax credits include:

  • Child tax credit
  • Earned income tax credit
  • Adoption tax credit
  • Residential energy tax credit
  • Renter’s tax credit

While paying taxes is no one’s idea of a good time, understanding federal tax brackets and other nuances of the tax system can at least make it a little less confusing.

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