2020-2021 Federal Income Tax Brackets

Tax Rates for the Tax Years 2020 and 2021 by Filing Status

A woman sits at her dining room table with laptop and financial reports doing her monthly budget. She is smiling at the ease of use as she works on her smart phone banking app to do monthly finances, pay taxes and save money for the future.
•••

RichVintage / Getty Images

The U.S. imposes an income tax using progressive rates. An individual's tax liability gradually increases as their income increases. There are seven marginal tax rates or brackets as of 2021: 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and 37%. The income that these rates apply to adjusts every year to take inflation into account.

Marginal Tax Brackets

Ordinary income tax rates apply to most kinds of income, and they're distinguished from the capital gains tax rate that's imposed on long-term gains and qualified dividends. Your marginal tax bracket is the highest tax rate imposed on your income. Marginal tax brackets refer to the tax imposed on the next dollar earned.

This is a useful concept for tax planning because it enables people to analyze the tax impact of additional income or deductions.

Tax rates are defined by year and by filing status:

Tax Tables for Tax Year 2020 (Filed in 2021)

                                       2020 TAX YEAR – SINGLE
Income Range Income Tax Rate Long-Term Capital Gains Rate
$0 to $9,875 10% 0%
$9,876 to $40,125 12% 15% beginning at $40,001
$40,126 to $85,525 22% 15%
$85,526 to $163,300 24% 15%
$163,301 to $207,350 32% 15%
$207,351 to $518,400 35% 20% beginning at $441,451
$518,401 or more 37% 20%
                2020 TAX YEAR – MARRIED FILING JOINTLY
Income Range Income Tax Rate Long-Term Capital Gains Rate
$0 to $19,750 10% 0%
$19,751 to $80,250 12% 15% beginning at $80,001
$80,251 to $171,050 22% 15%
$171,051 to $326,600 24% 15%
$326,601 to $414,700 32% 15%
$414,701 to $622,050 35% 20% beginning at $496,601
$622,051 or more 37% 20%
             2020 TAX YEAR – MARRIED FILING SEPARATELY
Income Range Income Tax Rate Long-Term Capital Gains Rate
$0 to $9,875 10% 0%
$9,876 to $40,125 12% 0%
$40,126 to $85,525 22% 15% beginning at $40,001
$85,526 to $163,300 24% 15%
$163,301 to $207,350 32% 15%
$207,351 to $311,025 35% 20% beginning at $248,301
$311,026 or more 37% 20%
                 2020 TAX YEAR – HEAD OF HOUSEHOLD
Income Range Income Tax Rate Long-Term Capital Gains Rate
$0 to $14,100 10% 0%
$14,101 to $53,700 12% 15% beginning at $53,601
$53,701 to $85,500 22% 15%
$85,501 to $163,300 24% 15%
$163,301 to $207,350 32% 15%
$207,351 to $518,400 35% 20% beginning at $469,051
$518,401 or more 37% 20%

These tax rates were in effect for income earned from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2020.

Tax Tables for Tax Year 2021 (Filed in 2022)

                             2021 TAX YEAR – SINGLE
Income Range Income Tax Rate Long-Term Capital Gains Rate
$0 to $9,950 10% 0%
$9,951 to $40,525 12% 15% beginning at $40,001
$40,526 to $86,375 22%
15%
$86,376 to $164,925 24% 15%
$164,926 to $209,425 32% 15%
$209,426 to $523,600 35% 20% beginning at $445,851
$523,601 or more 37% 20%
              2021 TAX YEAR – MARRIED FILING JOINTLY
Income Range Income Tax Rate Long-Term Capital Gains Rate
$0 to $19,900 10% 0%
$19,901 to $81,050 12% 15%
$81,051 to $172,750 22% 15% beginning at $80,801
$172,751 to $329,850 24% 15%
$329,851 to $418,850 32% 15%
$418,851 to $628,300 35% 20% beginning at $501,601
$628,301 or more 37% 20%
            2021 TAX YEAR – MARRIED FILING SEPARATELY
Income Range Income Tax Rate Long-Term Capital Gains Rate
$0 to $9,950 10% 0%
$9,951 to $40,525 12% 15% beginning at $40,401
$40,526 to $86,375 22% 15%
$86,376 to $164,925 24% 15%
$164,926 to $209,425 32% 15%
$209,426 to $314,150 35% 20% beginning at $250,801
$314,151 or more 37% 20%
           2021 TAX YEAR – HEAD OF HOUSEHOLD
Income Range Income Tax Rate Long-Term Capital Gains Rate
$0 to $14,200 10% 0%
$14,201 to $54,200 12% 15% beginning at $54,101
$54,201 to $86,350 22% 15%
$86,351 to $164,900 24% 15%
$164,901 to $209,400 32% 15%
$209,401 to $523,600 35% 20% beginning at $473,751
$523,601 or more 37% 20%

These tax rates are in effect for income earned from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2021.

The "Hidden" 0% Tax Bracket

Every taxpayer is entitled to claim a standard deduction or to itemize their deductions. These deductions effectively constitute a 0% tax bracket, in the sense that there's no tax imposed on income represented by these deductible expenses. They're subtracted from gross income to arrive at the income levels referenced in the federal tax brackets cited above.

Progressive Structure of the Tax Rates

U.S. tax rates are referred to as progressive because the tax rate that applies increases incrementally as an individual's income increases. For example, someone with $1 million in income would have their income taxed at every tax bracket. Someone with $5,000 in income after deductions would be taxed only at the 10% bracket.

Progressive tax rates are different from a flat tax, where one tax rate applies to all income, and from regressive tax rates, in which tax rates decrease as income increases.

Average Tax Rates vs. Marginal Tax Rates

Marginal tax rates don't tell the full story when it comes to tax planning. An individual's average rate, referred to as the effective tax rate, should be considered because this is their total federal tax liability divided by their total income. Effective tax rates indicate what the federal government taxes on someone's income.