US Income Tax Brackets

Learn about the US income tax system and figure out how your taxes are calculated.

Income taxes are based on how much money we earn at our job(s) and are usually taken out of our pay before we receive it. In other words, most income tax is collected directly from our employer, so it is removed from our paychecks rather than receiving it and owing it later.

Income tax can be collected by state or local governments and is always collected, or levied, by the US federal government.

We pay a percentage of our income based on how much we make, if we are married or single and if we have any dependents like children.

The tax system brackets our income into levels, so the rate on the first dollars earned stays the same but the more we earn, the higher the additional income is taxed.  We know this is complicated, but please bear with us.

Federal tax rates for single individuals without dependents:

Taxable Income Earned 2021Taxable Income Earned 2022Tax Rate
$0 to $9,950$0 to $10,27510%
$9,950 to $40,525$10,275 to $41,77512%
$40,525 to $86,375$41,775 to $89,07522%
$86,375 to $164,925$89,075 to $170,05024%
$164,925 to $209,425$170,050 to $215,95032%
$209,425 to $523,600$215,950 to $539,90035%
$523,600 and up$539,901 and up37%

The examples below are estimates. Please use a tax calculator for exact calculation of the income tax you owe.

Let’s say I made $30,000 in taxable income in 2021, am single and have no kids.

I pay 10% tax on $9,9950 and 12% tax on the remaining $20,050.

$9950 x 10% = $995

$3000 – $9950 = $20050        $20050 x 12% = $2406

$995 + $2406 = $3401

                         (Google allows you to multiply by %, but if you need to use another                              program, multiply by .10 or .12 instead of 10% and 12%.)

If my taxable income was $50,000, I would pay 10% tax on $9,950; 12% tax on the next $30,575; and 22% on the last $9,474.

$9950 x 10% = $995

$40525 – $9950 = $30575      $30575 x 12% = $3669275

         $50000 – $40525 = $9475      $9475 x 22% = 2084.50

                                     $995 + $3669 + $2084.28 = $6748.50

If I got a $2,000 raise in the first example, I would pay a 12% tax on that money; but if I got at $2,000 raise in the second example, I would pay a 22% tax on that income.

If I suddenly made over $86,375 in taxable income, that money would be taxed at a 24% rate.

Income is bracketed into levels, so the rate on the first dollars earned stays the same but the more you earn, the higher the additional income is taxed. 

The same idea applies for people who are married and file together, but the levels at which the tax rate increase are higher.

Federal tax rates for married couples filing together:

Taxable Income Earned 2021Taxable Income Earned 2022Tax Rate
Up to $19,900$0 to $20,55010%
$19,900 to $81,050$20,550 to $83,55012%
$81,050 to $172,750$83,550 to $178,15022%
$172,750 to $329,850$178,150 to $340,10024%
$329,850 to $418,850$340,100 to $431,90032%
$418,850 to $628,300$431,900 to $647,85035%
$628,300 and up$647,850 and up37%

If my (imaginary) spouse and I made a combined $180,000 in taxable income in 2020 and filed our taxes together, we would have paid 10% on the first $19,990; 12% on the next $61,150, 22% on $91,700 and 24% on $7,250.

$19990 x 10 % = $1990

$81050 – $19990 = $61150                $61150 x 12 % = $7338

$172750 – $81050= $91700               $91700 x 22% = $20174

$180000 – $172750 = $7250              $7250 x 24% = $1740

$1990 + $7338 + $20174 + $1740 = $31242

There are four categories total: single, married filing jointly (or qualified widower), head of household and married filing separately. Unsure of which you are, this income tax calculator breaks down the options.

Tax calculators, like the one below, can help fill in the details for you. But I wanted to give you a good understanding of how the tax brackets and rate system works.

Please note that this article and the imbedded focus on the bracketing system and not how taxable income is calculated.

There are many tax deductions, like giving to charity, that lower the amount of your income that is considered taxable. Many people opt to take the standard tax deduction, but this is not universal, so we didn’t want to assume that.

To see how changes in income and life situations could
affect your taxes, check out this income tax calculator.

We updated this video and post in April 2022. You can still find the original video here.

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