Federal Income Tax Brackets and Rates for the 2019 Tax Year

Tax brackets and rates for the 2019 tax return that you will file in 2020

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The federal government taxes personal income on a progressive, graduated scale—the more you earn, the higher a percentage you'll pay of that money in taxes. Personal income tax rates begin at 10% in tax year 2019, then gradually increase to 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, and 35% before reaching a top rate of 37%. Each tax rate applies to a specific range of income referred to as a tax bracket.

How Tax Brackets Work

Where each tax bracket begins and ends depends on your filing status. The circumstances of your life, such as whether you're married, single, or have children or other dependents, determine your status.

Tax rates can also vary depending on the type of income being taxed. Ordinary tax rates apply to most incomes, but a separate tax rate schedule applies to income derived from long-term capital gains.

These charts show the tax rates on ordinary income in the first column, and the income levels that these rates apply to in the second column. Keep in mind that these dollar amounts represent taxable income—what's left after you've taken various deductions.

These tax rates and brackets apply to your 2019 tax return, which you'll file by Tax Day on July 15, 2020.

Taxable Income Brackets for Single Filers

Ordinary Income Taxable Income Between
10% $0 to $9,700
12% $9,701 to $39,475
22% $39,476 to $84,200
24% $84,201 to $160,725
32% $160,726 to $204,100
35% $204,101 to $510,300
37% More than $510,300

"Single" is something of a default filing status. You're either not married or you're separated by court order on the last day of the tax year.

Taxable Income Brackets for Heads of Household

Ordinary Income Taxable Income Between
10% $0 to $13,850
12% $13,851 to $52,850
22% $52,851 to $84,200
24% $84,201 to $160,700
32% $160,701 to $204,100
35% $204,101 to $510,300
37% More than $510,300

The head of household filing status applies to taxpayers who are "considered unmarried," have at least one dependent and paid more than half the cost of keeping up their home for the year. The rules are somewhat complex, so speak with a tax professional if you think you might qualify. These brackets are more advantageous than those for single filers.

Taxable Income Brackets for Married Taxpayers Filing Separately

Ordinary Income Taxable Income Between
10% $0 to $9,700
12% $9,701 to $39,475
22% $39,476 to $84,200
24% $84,201 to $160,725
32% $160,726 to $204,100
35% $204,101 to $306,175
37% More than $306,175

This is your filing status if you're legally married, don't qualify as head of household, and do not want to file a tax return jointly with your spouse. Although the tax brackets are pretty much the same as for single filers, you'll notice that high earners take a bit of a hit when they file separately. They hit the 35% bracket on approximately $200,000 less in income.

Taxable Income Brackets for Married Taxpayers Filing Jointly

Ordinary Income Taxable Income Between
10% $0 to $19,400
12% $19,401 to $78,950
22% $78,951 to $168,400
24% $168,401 to $321,450
32% $321,451 to $408,200
35% $408,201 to $612,350
37% More than $612,350

This is your status if you're married and filing a tax return with your spouse. You'd combine your incomes and your deductions.

Taxable Income Brackets for Qualifying Widows/Widowers

This is a special filing status for taxpayers whose spouses have died within the last two years. The Internal Revenue Code provides that widows/widowers entitled to the same tax provisions they'd enjoy if they were still able to file jointly with their spouses. But this status comes with several qualifying rules, too, similar to those for the head of household status. The widow or widower cannot have remarried.

Again, check with a tax professional if you think you might qualify.

Each Tax Bracket Applies to a Portion of Income 

Let's say you're in the 24% tax bracket. You won't pay 24% on all of your income if you're single with a taxable income of $100,000. Instead, you'll only pay that rate on the portion over $84,200, which is when this tax bracket kicks in. Then you'd pay 22% on the income between $39,476 and $84,200, and then 12% on income between $97,001 and $39,475. Lastly, you'll pay just 10% on your income up to $9,700.

Here's a tax rate chart with an example of how the mechanics of this work.

If Your Taxable Income Is Between: Your Tax Is:
$0 and $9,700 10%, up to $970 
$9,701 and $39,475 $970 plus 12% of the amount over $9,700
$39,476 and $84,200 $4,543 plus 22% of the amount over $39,475
$84,201 and $160,725 $14,382 plus 24% of the amount over $84,200
$160,726 and $204,100 $32,748 plus 32% of the amount over $160,725
$204,101 and $510,300 $46,628 plus 35% of the amount over $204,100
$510,301 or more $153,798 plus 37% of the amount over $510,300

Let's say Edith is a single person who has taxable income of $100,000. This falls into the fourth tax bracket, which ranges from $84,201 to $160,725. If all Edith's income is subject to ordinary tax rates, her total federal income tax would calculate like this:

  • $970 on her income up to $9,700, taxed at 10%
  • $3,753 on her income from $9,701 to $39,475, taxed at 12%
  • $9,839 on her income from $39,476 to $84,200, taxed at 22%
  • $3,792 on her income from $84,201 to $100,000, taxed at 24%

Edith, therefore, owes $18,354 in federal income taxes:

$970 + $3,753 + $9,839 + $3,792 = $18,354

Using These Tax Brackets to Your Advantage

Understanding these tax rates will tell you how much tax you'll pay on any extra income you earn. For example, if you already fall into the 24% tax bracket, your extra income from a second job or side gig will be taxed at that rate until your income reaches the next tax bracket of 32%.

You can also use these tax rates to figure out how much tax you'll save by increasing your deductions. A taxpayer in the 24% tax bracket will save $0.24 in federal tax for every $1 spent on a tax-deductible expense, such as mortgage interest or charity.

Capital Gains Tax Rates

Income generated by long term capital gains is subject to its own tax rates. These rates were linked to ordinary income brackets through 2017, but the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changed that as of Jan. 1, 2018. Capital gains now have their very own tax brackets. These income spans apply to your overall taxable income, not just what you've realized in capital gains, although only capital gains are taxed at these rates. 

For the 2019 tax year, the long-term capital gains tax brackets for single filers are:

Income Range Long Term Capital Gains Tax Rate
$0 to $39,375 0%
$39,375 to $434,550 15%
$434,551 or more 20%

For married filers of joint returns, the capital gains tax brackets are:

Income Range Long Term Capital Gains Tax Rate
$0 to $78,750 0%
$78,751 to $488,850 15%
$488,851 or more 20%

Long-term gains result from property you've held for more than a year. Short-term capital gains result from assets you've owned for a year or less and they're considered ordinary income. They're taxed according to your ordinary income tax bracket along with the rest of your taxable income. 

Social Security Tax Rates

Other taxes that might apply to your personal income in addition to federal income taxes.

The Social Security tax rate is 12.4% on wages and self-employment income up to the annual Social Security wage base, which is $132,900 in 2019 earnings. This wage base is adjusted annually to keep up with inflation so it tends to go up annually.

The maximum Social Security tax paid by employees is $8,239.80 based on 2019 earnings or 6.2% of $132,900. Employees pay half the 12.4% total. Their employers match the other half.

The maximum paid by self-employed individuals is $16,479.60 because they must pay both halves of the tax as the self-employment tax. 

Income brackets for long-term capital gains rates and the ordinary income tax rates are indexed for inflation, as is the Social Security wage base, so they increase almost annually. The other rates rarely change. 

Medicare Tax Rates

The Medicare tax rate is 2.9% on wages and self-employment income. There's no wage base for this tax—all ordinary income is taxed at this rate. Again, employees pay half (1.45%) and employers pay the other 1.45%, but self-employed individuals must pay the whole 2.9%.

The Additional Medicare Tax

The Additional Medicare Tax rate is 0.9% on wages and self-employment income, but it's only applicable to incomes over certain thresholds:

  • Married filing jointly: $250,000
  • Single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er): $200,000
  • Married filing separately: $125,000

The Net Investment Income Tax

Net investment income is taxed at a rate of 3.8% on the lesser of net investment income or modified adjusted gross income over the following thresholds:

  • Married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er): $250,000
  • Single or head of household: $200,000
  • Married filing separately: $125,000

Tax Rates Can Change

Tax laws change periodically, so you should always consult with a tax professional for the most up-to-date advice. Keep an eye on announcements from the IRS and take the time to understand all of your sources of income so that you're prepared come tax season.

Article Sources

  1. IRS. "IRS Provides Tax Inflation Adjustments for Tax Year 2019." Accessed July 29, 2020.

  2. IRS. "26 CFR 601.602: Tax Forms and Instructions." Accessed July 29, 2020.

  3. IRS. "Filing Status." Accessed July 29, 2020.

  4. IRS. "Topic No. 409 Capital Gains and Losses." Accessed July 29, 2020.

  5. Social Security Administration. "Contribution And Benefit Base." Accessed July 29, 2020.

  6. IRS. "Topic No. 751 Social Security and Medicare Withholding Rates." Accessed July 29, 2020.

  7. IRS. "Instructions for Form 8959 (2019)." Accessed July 29, 2020.

  8. IRS. "Questions and Answers on the Net Investment Income Tax." Accessed July 29, 2020.