2020-2021 Federal Income Tax Brackets & Standard Deduction (Updated)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… for tax accountants. Americans have until April

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… for tax accountants.

Americans have until April 15th, 2021–or October 15th, 2021 with an extension–to file their 2020 federal income taxes.

It’s also time to start thinking about your 2021 income taxes.

You might say it’s too early to think about 2021 tax brackets and deductions but understanding your tax bracket can help you make all sorts of helpful financial decisions, especially if you’re on the line between two.

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The 2020 Standard Deduction

The standard deduction is the portion of your income the IRS allows to be deducted from your taxable income. It ensures only people with income above these thresholds pay income tax.

  • Married Filing Jointly/Surviving Spouse: $24,800
  • Heads of Households: $18,650
  • Single/Married Filing Separately: $12,400

There’s an additional standard deduction for people who turned 65 or older in 2020 or who are blind. It’s $1,300 for each married taxpayer or $1,650 for unmarried taxpayers.

The 2021 Standard Deduction

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 more than doubled the amount for standard deductions, meaning more taxpayers than ever have stopped itemizing and are claiming the standard deduction.

But it’s still good to keep track of your tax-deductible expenses in 2021 because if they happen to be higher than your standard deduction you could save some money on your taxes next year.

  • Married Filing Jointly/Surviving Spouse: $25,100
  • Heads of Households: $18,800
  • Single/Married Filing Separately: $12,550

*Note that for 2021, there is still no personal exemption, due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

Remember, even if you take the standard deduction, there are still certain deductions and credits you can claim without itemizing.

How Tax Brackets Work

Currently, there are seven federal income tax brackets in the U.S ranging from 10% to 37%. These rates apply to taxable income, which is your gross income after you’ve subtracted the standard deduction or allowable itemized deductions.

2020 IRS Federal Tax Brackets

For income earned in 2020, the following are the brackets at which each segment of your applicable income are taxed:

Tax Rate Taxable Income (Single Filer) Taxable Income (Married, Filing Jointly) Taxable Income
(Married, Filing Separately)
Taxable Income
(Head of Household)
10% $0 to $9,875 $0 to $19,750 $0 to $9,875 $0 to $14,100
12% $9,876 to $40,125 $19,751 to $80,250 $9,876 to $40,125 $14,101 to $53,700
22% $40,126 to $85,525 $80,251 to $171,050 $40,126 to $85,525 $53,701 to $85,500
24% $85,526 to $163,300 $171,051 to $326,600 $85,526 to $163,300 $85,501 to $163,300
32% $163,301 to $207,350 $326,601 to $414,700 $163,301 to $207,350 $163,301 to $207,350
35% $207,351 to $518,400 $414,701 to $622,050 $204,101 to $311,025 $207,351 to $518,400
37% $518,401 or more $622,051 or more $311,026 or more $518,401 or more

2021 IRS Federal Tax Brackets

For taxes due in April 2021 the income tax brackets are:

Tax Rate Taxable Income (Single Filer) Taxable Income (Married, Filing Jointly) Taxable Income
(Married, Filing Separately)
Taxable Income
(Head of Household)
10% $0 to $9,950 $0 to $19,900 $0 to $9,950 $0 to $14,200
12% $9,951 to $40,525 $19,901 to $81,050 $9,951 to $40,525 $14,201 to $54,200
22% $40,526 to $86,375 $81,051 to $172,750 $40,526 to $86,375 $53,201 to $86,350
24% $86,376 to $164,925 $172,751 to $329,850 $86,376 to $164,925 $86,351 to $164,900
32% $164,926 to $209,425 $329,851 to $418,850 $164,926 to $209,425 $164,901 to $209,400
35% $209,426 to $523,600 $418,851 to $628,300 $207,351 to $314,150 $209,401 to $523,600
37% $523,601 or more $628,301 or more $314,151 or more $523,601 or more

Tax brackets divide your income into levels that are taxed at different rates. Being in one tax bracket doesn’t mean all of your income is taxed at that rate, every bracket is taxed at its own rate.

For example, let’s suppose you’re a single filer who made $21,000 in 2020. After taking the standard deduction of $12,200, your taxable income is $8,800. That puts you in just the 10% tax bracket.

Calculating Your 2020 Federal Income Tax

To calculate the amount of income tax you owe in each bracket simply multiply your income in that bracket by the applicable rate and you’ll get the amount owed. For the previous example, if your taxable income is $8,800, multiply it by .1 and you’ll see you owe $880 in federal income tax.

As you move into a higher income bracket you add a few more calculations. Say, you’re married, filing jointly with a gross income of $90,000 in 2020. After subtracting the standard deduction of $24,400 your taxable income for 2020 is $65,600. That puts you in the 12% tax bracket.

To calculate your tax bill you’ll pay 10% on the first $19,750 of your income and 12% on the remaining $45,850.

.1 x 19,750= 1,975

.12 x 45,850= 5,502

Making your total federal income tax bill $7,477. Your standard deduction is determined by your filing status and stays the same regardless of your income. As your income goes up your tax bracket rates do increase accordingly.

These are simple calculations and don’t take into account all the other deductions and credits available to taxpayers.

2020 Tax Rates

Having trouble with the math? The following tables will make calculating your taxes a little easier. Simply select your filing status, locate your taxable income after deductions, and do the math.

Table 1. Single Filers

2020 Taxable Income Brackets 2020 Tax Rates
Up to $9,875 10% of taxable income
Between $9,876 and $40,125 $987.50 plus 12% of income over $9,875
Between $40,126 and $85,525 $4,617.50 plus 22% of income over $40,125
Between $85,526 and $163,300 $14,605.50 plus 24% of income over $85,525
Between $163,301 and $207,350 $33,271.50 plus 32% of income over $163,300
Between $207,351 and $518,400 $47,367.50 plus 35% of income over $207,350
$518,401 and higher $156,235 plus 37% of income over $518,400

2021 Taxable Income Brackets 2021 Tax Rates
Up to $9,950 10% of taxable income
Between $9,951 and $40,525 $995 plus 12% of income over $9,950
Between $40,526 and $86,375 $4,664 plus 22% of income over $40,525
Between $86,376 and $164,925 $14,751 plus 24% of income over $86,375
Between $164,926 and $209,425 $33,603 plus 32% of income over $164,925
Between $209,426 and $523,600 $47,843 plus 35% of income over $209,425
$523,601 and higher $157,804.25 plus 37% of income over $523,600

Table 2. Married, Filing Jointly and Surviving Spouses

2020 Taxable Income Brackets 2020 Tax Rates
Up to $19,750 10% of taxable income
Between $19,751 and $80,250 $1,975 plus 12% of income over $19,750
Between $80,251 and $171,050 $9,235 plus 22% of income over $80,250
Between $171,051 and $326,600 $29,211 plus 24% of income over $171,050
Between $326,601 and $414,700 $66,543 plus 32% of income over $326,600
Between $414,701 and $622,050 $94,735 plus 35% of income over $414,700
$622,051 and higher $167,307.50 plus 37% of income over $622,050

2021 Taxable Income Brackets 2021 Tax Rates
Up to $19,900 10% of taxable income
Between $19,901 and $81,050 $1,900 plus 12% of income over $19,900
Between $81,051 and $172,750 $9,328 plus 22% of income over $81,050
Between $172,751 and $329,850 $29,502 plus 24% of income over $172,750
Between $329,851 and $418,850 $67,206 plus 32% of income over $329,850
Between $418,851 and $628,300 $95,686 plus 35% of income over $418,850
$628,301 and higher $168,993.50 plus 37% of income over $628,300

Table 3. Married, Filing Separately

2020 Taxable Income Brackets 2020 Tax Rates
Up to $9,875 10% of taxable income
Between $9,876 and $40,125 $987.50 plus 12% of income over $9,875
Between $40,126 and $85,525 $4,617.50 plus 22% of income over $40,125
Between $85,526 and $163,300 $14,605.50 plus 24% of income over $85,525
Between $163,301 and $207,350 $33,271.50 plus 32% of income over $163,300
Between $207,351 and $311,025 $47,367.50 plus 35% of income over $207,350
$311,026 and higher $83,653.75 plus 37% of income over $311,025

2021 Taxable Income Brackets 2021 Tax Rates
Up to $9,950 10% of taxable income
Between $9,951 and $40,525 $995 plus 12% of income over $9,950
Between $40,526 and $86,375 $4,664 plus 22% of income over $40,525
Between $86,376 and $164,925 $14,751 plus 24% of income over $86,375
Between $164,926 and $209,425 $33,603 plus 32% of income over $164,925
Between $209,426 and $314,150 $47,843 plus 35% of income over $209,425
$314,151 or higher $84,496.75 plus 37% of income over $314,150

Table 4. Heads of Households

2020 Taxable Income Brackets 2020 Tax Rates
Up to $14,100 10% of taxable income
Between $14,101 and $53,700 $1,410 plus 12% of income over $14,100
Between $53,701 and $85,500 $6,162 plus 22% of income over $53,700
Over $85,501 and $163,300 $13,158 plus 24% of income over $85,500
Over $163,301 and $207,350 $31,830 plus 32% of income over $163,300
Over $207,351 and $518,400 $45,926 plus 35% of income over $207,350
$518,401 and higher $154,793.50 plus 37% of income over $518,400

2021 Taxable Income Brackets 2021 Tax Rates
Up to $14,200 10% of taxable income
Between $14,201 and $54,200 $1,420 plus 12% of income over $14,200
Between $54,201 and $86,350 $6,220 plus 22% of income over $54,200
Between $86,351 and $164,900 $13,293 plus 24% of income over $86,350
Between $164,901 to $209,400 $32,145 plus 32% of income over $164,900
Between $209,401 and $523,600 $46,385 plus 35% of income over $209,400
$523,601 and higher $156,355 plus 37% of income over $523,600

Next Steps

An estimated 90% of tax filers will take their standard deduction. If you’re planning on having a significant number of expenses this year, keep track of them in case they exceed your standard deduction. You can still make tax-deductible contributions to your IRA for the previous tax year up until April 15th.

Also, keep track of your income throughout the year. Use these tax brackets as a goal to push your income toward the top. Alternatively, if you’re on the edge, look for ways to lower your tax liability like putting more money into a tax-advantaged retirement account or a health-savings account. Or take it as a sign that you deserve a vacation.

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