Sign up for your free Credit.com account    Sign Up Now
From the Experts at Credit.com

How Many Tax Brackets Are There?

Advertiser Disclosure

tax form

Every U.S. citizen knows at least one thing when it comes to taxes: You have to file them at least once a year. And given the introduction of tax preparation software, plus the plethora of helpful professionals out there, it’s easy to simply plug in the numbers or turn over your W-2s, write (or, hopefully, wait for) a check and call it a tax day. Of course, there’s a lot more to taxes than that. For starters, not everyone pays the same rate. And, while the basic tenet of income tax is pretty straightforward — the more you make, the bigger percentage of your income you’re expected pay — there are lots of other factors that can affect what tax bracket you actually fall in. Here’s a primer on federal tax brackets to help you understand what exactly you’re paying Uncle Sam.    

How Tax Brackets Work

How much you pay in federal income taxes depends on how much you make, whether you are married or single and whether you are head of household.

There are seven major tax brackets – 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33% 35% and 39.6% — and there are separate sets of brackets for single tax filers, married tax filers who file jointly, married tax filers who file separately and tax filers who are single and file as head of household. (You will find tax brackets for 2016 and 2017 in the next section.)

But these percentages aren’t applied the way a person may initially suppose. Instead of being subject to a blanket percentage, you only pay the higher tax rates on the portion of your income that falls into that particular tax bracket. And you pay the lower rates associated with the lower tax brackets for those sections of your taxable income.

So, let’s say you are single and had $30,000 of taxable income in 2016, after your deductions. For the first $9,275, you are in the 10% tax bracket and would pay $927.50, a 10% tax on this portion of your taxable income.

For the remainder of your taxable income, $20,975, you would fall into the 15% tax bracket ($9,276 to $36,900)
 and you would pay $3,146.75, a 15% tax on this portion of your taxable income. This holds true for the other tax brackets as well.

Which Tax Bracket Are You In?

For single filers, the 2016 tax brackets are:

  • 10% – up to $9,275
  • 15% – $9,276 to $37,650
  • 25% – $37,651 to $91,150
  • 28% – $91,151 to $190,150
  • 33% – $190,151 to $413,350
  • 35% – $413,351 to $415,050
  • 39.6% – more than $415,050

 

For married couples who file their taxes jointly, the 2016 tax brackets are:

  • 10% – up to $18,550
  • 15% – $18,551 to $75,300
  • 25% – $75,301 to $151,900
  • 28% – $151,901 to $231,450
  • 33% – $231,451 to $413,350
  • 35% – $413,351 to $466,950
  • 39.6% – more than $466,950

 

For married couples who choose to file their taxes separately, the 2016 tax brackets are:

  • 10% – up to $9,275
  • 15% – $9,276 to $37,650
  • 25% – $37,651 to $75,950
  • 28% – $75,951 to $115,725
  • 33% – $115,726 to $206,675
  • 35% – $206,676 to $233,475
  • 39.6% – more than $233,475

 

If you were single and the head of your household at the end of the year, your 2016 tax brackets are:

  • 10% – up to $13,250
  • 15% – $13,251 to $50,400
  • 25% – $50,401 to $130,150
  • 28% – $130,151 to $210,800
  • 33% – $210,801 to $413,350
  • 35% – $413,351 to $441,000
  • 39.6% – more than $441,000

 

The Tax Year 2017 Brackets

For single filers, the 2017 tax brackets are:

  • 10% – up to $9,325
  • 15% – $9,326 to $37,950

  • 25% – $37,951 to $91,900
  • 28% – $91,901 to $191,650
  • 33% – $191,651 to $416,700

  • 35% – $416,701 to $418,400
  • 39.6% – more than $418,401

 

For married couples who file their taxes jointly, the 2017 tax brackets are:

  • 10% – up to $18,650
  • 15% – $18,651 to $75,900
  • 25% – $75,901 to $153,100
  • 28% – $153,101 to $233,350
  • 33% – $233,351 to $416,700
  • 35% – $416,701 to $470,700
  • 39.6% – more than $470,700

 

For married couples who choose to file their taxes separately, the 2017 tax brackets are:

  • 10% – up to $9,325
  • 15% – $9,326 to $37,950
  • 25% – $37,951 to $76,550
  • 28% – $75,551 to $116,675
  • 33% – $116,676 to $208,350
  • 35% – $208,351 to $235,350
  • 39.6% – more than $235,350

 

If you were single and the head of your household at the end of the year, your 2017 tax brackets are:

  • 10% – up to $13,350

  • 15% – $13,151 to $50,800
  • 25% – $50,801 to $131,200
  • 28% – $131,201 to $212,500
  • 33% – $212,501 to $416,701
  • 35% – $416,701 to $444,500
  • 39.6% – more than $444,500

Am I the Head of Household?

To file as head of household, you must meet certain requirements.

  • You must be single on the last day of the year
  • You have to have paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for a year.
  • A qualifying person, such as a child, stepchild or foster child, has lived with you in your home for more than half a year.

If you are divorced by the last day of the year, you are considered unmarried for the whole year and if you had a child live with you for more than half a year, you may be able to file your taxes as head of household.

If you do, your tax rate will usually be lower than the tax rate for a single filer or if you are married and filing separately.

I’m Married. Should We File Jointly?

When you file a joint tax return with your spouse, you report your combined income, deductions and exemptions. Both you and your spouse are held responsible for the payment of the taxes that you owe.

So with a joint return, if your spouse fails to pay his or her share of the taxes due, you may be required to. If you don’t wish to be held responsible for any taxes due if a spouse fails to pay, you may wish to file your taxes separately.

This article has been updated. It was originally published on February 12, 2015.


Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.


Sign up for your free Credit.com account. Learn More

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.