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Federal income tax brackets for 2020-2021

Everything you need to know about state and federal taxes.

Wondering how federal income tax brackets work? The US uses a progressive tax system, where the more you make, the more you pay. But how much you pay depends on your tax filing status. Use the charts below to see how much you’ll owe and explore our top tips for reducing your tax bill.

Single

2020 federal income tax brackets

Tax bracketTaxable incomeTaxes owed
10%$0 to $9,87510% of taxable income
12%$9,876 to $40,125$987.50 plus 12% of the amount over $9,875
22%$40,126 to $85,525$4,617.50 plus 22% of the amount over $40,125
24%$85,526 to $163,300$14,605.50 plus 24% of the amount over $85,525
32%$163,301 to $207,350$33,271.50 plus 32% of the amount over $163,300
35%$207,351 to $518,400$47,367.50 plus 35% of the amount over $207,350
37%$518,401+$156,235 plus 37% of the amount over $518,400

2021 federal income tax brackets

Tax bracketTaxable incomeTaxes owed
10%$0 to $9,95010% of taxable income
12%$9,951 to $40,525$995 plus 12% of the amount over $9,950
22%$40,526 to $86,375$4,664 plus 22% of the amount over $40,525
24%$86,376 to $164,925$14,751 plus 24% of the amount over $86,375
32%$164,926 to $209,425$33,603 plus 32% of the amount over $164,925
35%$209,426 to $523,600$47,843 plus 35% of the amount over $209,425
37%$523,601+$157,804.25 plus 37% of the amount over $523,600

Married filing separately

2020 federal income tax brackets

Tax bracketTaxable incomeTaxes owed
10%$0 to $9,87510% of taxable income
12%$9,876 to $40,125$987.50 plus 12% of the amount over $9,875
22%$40,126 to $85,525$4,617.50 plus 22% of the amount over $40,125
24%$85,526 to $163,300$14,605.50 plus 24% of the amount over $85,525
32%$163,301 to $207,350$33,271.50 plus 32% of the amount over $163,300
35%$207,351 to $311,025$47,367.50 plus 35% of the amount over $207,350
37%$311,026+$83,653.75 plus 37% of the amount over $311,025

2021 federal income tax brackets

Tax bracketTaxable incomeTaxes owed
10%$0 to $9,95010% of taxable income
12%$9,951 to $40,525$995 plus 12% of the amount over $9,950
22%$40,526 to $86,375$4,664 plus 22% of the amount over $40,525
24%$86,376 to $164,925$14,751 plus 24% of the amount over $86,375
32%$164,926 to $209,425$33,603 plus 32% of the amount over $164,925
35%$209,426 to $314,150$47,843 plus 35% of the amount over $209,425
37%$314,151+$84,496.75 plus 37% of the amount over $314,150

Married filing jointly

This bracket includes surviving spouses.

2020 federal income tax brackets

Tax bracketTaxable incomeTaxes owed
10%$0 to $19,75010% of taxable income
12%$19,751 to $80,250$1,975 plus 12% of the amount over $19,750
22%$80,251 to $171,050$9,235 plus 22% of the amount over $80,250
24%$171,051 to $326,600$29,211 plus 24% of the amount over $171,050
32%$326,601 to $414,700$66,543 plus 32% of the amount over $326,600
35%$414,701 to $622,050$94,735 plus 35% of the amount over $414,700
37%$622,051+$167,307.50 plus 37% of the amount over $622,050

2021 federal income tax brackets

Tax bracketTaxable incomeTaxes owed
10%$0 to $19,90010% of taxable income
12%$19,901 to $81,050$1,990 plus 12% of the amount over $19,900
22%$81,051 to $172,750$9,328 plus 22% of the amount over $81,050
24%$172,751 to $329,850$29,502 plus 24% of the amount over $172,750
32%$329,851 to $418,850$67,206 plus 32% of the amount over $329,850
35%$418,851 to $628,300$95,686 plus 35% of the amount over $418,850
37%$628,301+$168,993.50 plus 37% of the amount over $628,300

2020 federal income tax brackets

Tax bracketTaxable incomeTaxes owed
10%$0 to $14,10010% of taxable income
12%$14,101 to $53,700$1,410 plus 12% of the amount over $14,100
22%$53,701 to $85,500$6,162 plus 22% of the amount over $53,700
24%$85,501 to $163,300$13,158 plus 24% of the amount over $85,500
32%$163,301 to $207,350$31,830 plus 32% of the amount over $163,300
35%$207,351 to $518,400$45,926 plus 35% of the amount over $207,350
37%$518,401+$154,793.50 plus 37% of the amount over $518,400

2021 federal income tax brackets

Tax bracketTaxable incomeTaxes owed
10%$0 to $14,20010% of taxable income
12%$14,201 to $54,200$1,420 plus 12% of the amount over $14,200
22%$54,201 to $86,350$6,220 plus 22% of the amount over $54,200
24%$86,351 to $164,900$13,293 plus 24% of the amount over $86,350
32%$164,901 to $209,400$32,145 plus 32% of the amount over $164,900
35%$209,401 to $523,600$46,385 plus 35% of the amount over $209,400
37%$523,601+$156,355 plus 37% of the amount over $523,600

How do tax brackets work?

Contrary to popular belief, being in a tax bracket doesn’t mean you pay that percentage on your total income. The federal government breaks your income up into chunks, and you pay a different tax rate for each chunk.

For example, if you’re a single tax filer who made $40,000 in 2020, you’ll pay a 10% tax on the first $9,875 you made and 12% of the amount ranging from $9,876 to $40,000 when you file in 2021.

Recent changes to tax brackets

Each year the taxable income limits increase slightly due to inflation. But the tax brackets themselves usually stay the same — unless there’s a tax reform, like the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that passed in 2018.

The Act lowered the federal income tax brackets and increased the income thresholds within each bracket. Now, the highest earners are taxed at a 37% rate instead of a 39.6% rate and you can generally earn more income before you’re pushed into a higher bracket.

State tax brackets

States have the freedom to structure their tax brackets however they want. Some states have a progressive tax rate where the more you make, the more you pay. Others have a flat tax rate and a few don’t have income tax at all.

States with no income tax:

  • Alaska
  • Florida
  • Nevada
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

States with a flat-rate tax:

  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Utah

These states have progressive tax rates where the more you make, the more you pay:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • West Virginia
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • Wisconsin
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington, D.C.

How to lower your tax bracket

There are three ways to lower your tax bill: through credits, deductions and tax-deferred savings contributions.

Tax credits

Tax credits lower your tax bill dollar-for-dollar. If you have a $3,000 tax bill but qualify for $1,000 in credits, your bill is reduced to $2,000.

Common tax credits include:

  • Child tax credit
  • Earned income tax credit
  • American opportunity tax credit (education credit)
  • Electric car tax credit
  • Saver’s credit

Tax deductions

Tax deductions lower your taxable income dollar-for-dollar, which could drop you into a lower tax bracket. Common items you can write off on your taxes include charitable contributions, medical expenses, mortgage interest, property taxes, states and local income taxes, business expenses and more.

Want to calculate how much a deduction will save you in taxes? Use your highest income tax bracket as a guide. For example, if your highest tax bracket is 24%, a $1,000 deduction may trim $240 off your tax bill.

Anytime you save money in a taxed-deferred retirement or health savings account, it lowers your taxable income. So, one of the easiest ways to reduce your taxable income is to max out your retirement accounts. For example, if you make $60,000 a year and contribute $19,500 to your 401(k), your taxable income drops to $40,500.

The same goes for HSAs. If you have a high-deductible healthcare plan, open a health savings plan and contribute as much as you can. For 2021, the maximum limit is $3,600 for individual plans and $7,200 for family plans.

Compare tax filing services

Name Product Federal returns starting price State returns starting price Maximum return guaranteed? Free options available? Photo import of W2? Live chat?
H&R Block
$29.99
$36.99
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
File simply and securely with tax software from H&R Block.
FreeTaxUSA
$0
$14.99
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
File federal returns for free and pay $14.99 for state returns with this online tax preparation software.
Keeper Tax
$89
Included
Yes
No
No
Yes
Keeper Tax helps people with 1099 income automatically find tax write-offs among their purchases. At tax time, file federal and state directly for $89 or export to file elsewhere for $39.
Jackson Hewitt
$25
$24
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
File taxes online or in-person for a no-fee refund advance loan. But watch out for high filing fees
Intuit TurboTax
$60
$50
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
File returns electronically and get taken step by step through the tax-filing process, so that you can receive the fastest refund possible for yourself, and/or your business.
Liberty Tax
$34.95
$29.95
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Choose from EZ, Basic, Deluxe, and Premium packages to support the simplest or the most complicated of returns; including business and investments.
TaxSlayer
$24.95
$39.95
Yes
Yes
Yes
TaxSlayer offers free federal and state filing for simple returns and $0 federal return to service members filing with a military EIN.
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Compare up to 4 providers

The bottom line

The way our current federal tax system is set up, the more income you earn, the more you pay in taxes. But just because you’re in one tax bracket doesn’t mean all your income is taxed at that rate. Instead, your income is broken up into chunks and you pay a different rate for each one. Regardless of which bracket you fall in, there are proven ways you can lower your tax bill each year thanks to deductions and credits. Wondering which tax deductions you may qualify for? Check out our guide on income tax deductions.

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