Get the Federal Income Tax Rates for 2015

Some tax rates and provisions have changed considerably since 2015

2015
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The U.S. federal government taxes personal income using a graduated scale. Personal income tax rates begin at 10 percent and increase to 12 percent, 22 percent, 24 percent, 32 percent, 35 percent, finally reaching a top rate of 37 percent. Each tax rate applies to a specific range of income, and these ranges are called tax brackets.

These brackets apply in 2018, but they weren't always set at these percentages.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) reduced the percentages across the board when it went into effect in January 2018. 

The taxable income level at which each bracket begins varies depending on filing status and on the type of income. Ordinary tax rates apply to most types of income. A separate tax rate schedule applies to income from long-term capital gains and qualified dividends.

Tax Rates in 2015 

The chart below shows the ordinary tax rates as of 2015 in the first column, and the rates for long-term capital gains and qualified dividends in the second column. The remaining columns show the beginning and end of each tax bracket, grouped by filing status.

2015 Tax Rates
Tax RateSingleHead of HouseholdMarried Filing SeparatelyMarried Filing Jointly / Qualifying Widow or Widower
Ordinary IncomeLong-Term Capital Gains and Qualified DividendsTaxable Income overtoTaxable Income overtoTaxable Income overtoTaxable Income overto
10%0%$0$9,225$0$13,150$0$9,225$0$18,450
15%0%9,22537,45013,15050,2009,22537,45018,45074,900
25%15%37,45090,75050,200129,60037,45075,60074,900151,200
28%15%90,750189,300129,600209,85075,600115,225151,200230,450
33%15%189,300411,500209,850411,500115,225205,750230,450411,500
35%15%411,500413,200411,500439,000205,750232,425411,500464,850
39.6%20%413,200--439,000--232,425--464,850--

How to Calculate Your Tax 

Tax rate charts can also be separated out by filing status.

We start by figuring out an individual's taxable income, then use the first two columns to find the range in which the taxable income falls. Find the relevant row, then work across the row from left to right.

After we identify the relevant row, we'll write in the amount of taxable income in column (a).

We then perform the subtraction in column (c) and perform a multiplication in column (e). We add the amount in column (f) to this number to find the federal income tax liability in column (g).

What we're actually doing is taking taxable income and subtracting the amount where the relevant tax bracket begins in columns (a) and (b). This leaves just the taxable income within that tax bracket: column (c). This amount is then multiplied by the tax rate for that bracket in column (d).

This is the amount of tax on the income within that tax bracket. We add the cumulative federal tax on income that falls in the lower tax rates—column (f)—to this amount. This results in the total amount of federal income tax in column (g).

2015 Ordinary Tax Rates for Single Filing Status
[Tax Rate Schedule X, Internal Revenue Code section 1(c)]
If taxable income isabcdefg
overbut not overTaxable incomeMinusSubtract (b) from (a)Multiplication amountMultiply (c) by (d)Additional AmountAdd (e) and (f)
$0$9,225 $0 × 10% $0 
9,22537,450 9,225 × 15% 922.50 
37,45090,750 37,450 × 25% 5,156.25 
90,750189,300 90,750 × 28% 18,481.25 
189,300411,500 189,300 × 33% 46,075.25 
411,500413,200 411,500 × 35% 119,401.25 
413,200-- 413,200 × 39.6% 119,996.25 

An Example 

Suppose that Edith, a single person, has taxable income of $100,000. This falls within the fourth tax bracket which ranged from $90,750 to $189,300 of taxable income in 2015. Assuming that Edith's income is subject to the ordinary tax rates, we would find her federal income tax like this:

Example
If taxable income isabcdefg
overbut not overTaxable incomeMinusSubtract (b) from (a)Multiplication amountMultiply (c) by (d)Additional AmountAdd (e) and (f)
90,750189,300$100,00090,750$9,250× 28%$2,59018,481.25$21,071.25

Edith would have owed $21,071.25 of federal income tax on taxable income of $100,000. Her taxable income fell within the 28 percent tax bracket. Her income over $90,750 was taxed at the 28 percent rate. The rest of her income was taxed at the lower 10, 15, and 25 percent rates.

Edith's effective or average tax rate is her tax liability divided by her taxable income—$21,071.25 divided by 100,000, or 21.07125 percent. This effective tax rate is a blend of all the tax rates that apply to her income.

The Effect of Filing Status

What if Edith was not a single taxpayer? The brackets for other filing statuses worked out like this in 2015: 

2015 Ordinary Tax Rates for Head of Household Filing Status
[Tax Rate Schedule Z, Internal Revenue Code section 1(b)]
If taxable income isabcdefg
overbut not overTaxable incomeMinusSubtract (b) from (a)Multiplication amountMultiply (c) by (d)Additional AmountAdd (e) and (f)
$0$13,150 $0 × 10% $0 
13,15050,200 13,150 × 15% 1,315.00 
50,200129,600 50,200 × 25% 6,872.50 
129,600209,850 129,600 × 28% 26,722.50 
209,850411,500 209,850 × 33% 49,192.50 
411,500439,000 411,500 × 35% 115,737.00 
439,000 --  439,000 × 39.6% 125,362.00 

 

2015 Ordinary Tax Rates for Married Filing Separately Filing Status
[Tax Rate Schedule Y-2, Internal Revenue Code section 1(d)]
If taxable income isabcdefg
overbut not overTaxable incomeMinusSubtract (b) from (a)Multiplication amountMultiply (c) by (d)Additional AmountAdd (e) and (f)
$0$9,225 $0 × 10% $0 
9,22537,450 9,225 × 15% 922.50 
37,45075,600 37,450 × 25% 5,156.25 
75,600115,225 75,600 × 28% 14,693.75 
115,225205,750 115,225 × 33% 25,788.75 
205,750232,425 205,750 × 35% 55,662.00 
232,425 --  232,425 × 39.6% 64,989.25 

 

2015 Ordinary Tax Rates for Married Filing Jointly and Qualifying Widow or Widower Filing Status
[Tax Rate Schedule Y-1, Internal Revenue Code section 1(a)]
If taxable income isabcdefg
overbut not overTaxable incomeMinusSubtract (b) from (a)Multiplication amountMultiply (c) by (d)Additional AmountAdd (e) and (f)
$0$18,450 $0 × 10% $0 
18,45074,900 18,450 × 15% 1,845.00 
74,900151,200 74,900 × 25% 10,312.50 
151,200230,450 151,200 × 28% 29,387.50 
230,450411,500 230,450 × 33% 51,577.50 
411,500464,850 411,500 × 35% 111,324.00 
464,850 --  464,850 × 39.6% 129,996.50 

2015 Personal Exemptions 

It's important to note that these dollar amounts represent taxable income. This is not necessarily all income you received during the 2015 tax year. It's your total income after various deductions were subtracted.

First, taxpayers were entitled to subtract personal exemptions from their gross incomes in 2015, although this tax break was eliminated by the TCJA for tax years 2018 through at least 2025. You could claim a $4,000 exemption for yourself, your spouse, and each of your dependents in 2015.

These exemptions were subject to phaseout thresholds, however. They were gradually reduced for taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes (AGIs) over a certain amount, then eventually eliminated. The 2015 thresholds were:

Filing Status

Phaseout Begins at AGIs over:

Exemptions Eliminated for AGIs over:

Single

$258,250

$380,750

Married Filing Jointly

$309,900

$432,400

Married Filing Separately

$154,950

$216,200

Head of Household

$284,050

$406,550

2015 Standard Deductions 

You can also subtract a standard deduction from your overall income, and this has not changed in 2018. But you have to make a choice between claiming the standard deduction or itemizing—it's never been possible to do both. You're entitled to use the deduction that results in the greatest decrease in your taxable income. 

The standard deductions in 2015 were $6,300 for single taxpayers and married taxpayers filing separate returns. This increased to $9,250 for head of household filers, and to $12,600 for married joint filers and qualifying widow(er)s. 

Ordinary Tax Rates vs. Capital Gains 

It's important to point out that this chart only displays the ordinary income tax rates. We assumed that all Edith's income was subject to the ordinary tax rates.

Capital gains tax rates vary depending on whether the gains are short-term or long-term. Short-term gains on most assets held for less than one year are taxed at ordinary income tax rates. Long-term gains and qualified dividends were taxed at the following percentages in 2015: 

  • 0 percent if taxable income falls in the 10 percent or 15 percent marginal tax brackets
  • 15 percent if taxable income falls in the 25, 28, 33, or 35 percent marginal tax brackets
  • 20 percent if taxable income falls in the 39.6 percent marginal tax bracket
  • 25 percent on depreciation recapture
  • 28 percent on collectibles
  • 28 percent on qualified small business stock after exclusion

Again, it's important to note that these are 2015 figures. The TCJA has assigned long-term gains with their own tax brackets for the tax year 2018 and going forward. 

Other Tax Rates in Effect for 2015

Other taxes applied to personal income in 2015 addition to federal income taxes, and these taxes are still in place in 2018. 

The Social Security tax is 12.4 percent on wages and self-employment income up to the annual Social Security wage base. The base was $118,500 in 2015. It increases annually to keep pace with inflation. 

The Medicare tax is 2.9 percent on wages and self-employment income.​

The Additional Medicare Tax is imposed at a rate of 0.9% on wages and self-employment income over certain thresholds. These thresholds were $250,000 for those who were married and filing jointly in 2015, $200,000 for single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er) filers, or $125,000 for married taxpayers who file separate returns. They remain the same in 2018. 

The TCJA also increased the alternative minimum tax (AMT) thresholds effective 2018. In 2015, these thresholds were: 

For Married Filing Separately:

  • 26 percent on taxable income (as recalculated under the AMT rules) under $92,700
  • 28 percent on AMT taxable income over $92,700

For Single, Head of Household, Married Filing Jointly, and Qualifying Widow(er):

  • 26 percent on AMT taxable income under $185,400
  • 28 percent on AMT taxable income over $185,400

The net investment income tax is 3.8 percent on the lower of net investment income or modified AGI over certain thresholds. In 2015, these thresholds were:

  • Married Filing Jointly or Qualifying Widow(er): $250,000
  • Single or Head of Household: $200,000
  • Married Filing Separately: $125,000

Note: These official tax brackets for 2015 were published by the Internal Revenue Service in Revenue Procedure 2014-61. To compute your actual income tax, please consult tax calculation worksheets in the current instructions for Form 1040 using current tax tables.