Get the Federal Income Tax Rates for 2015
Some tax rates and provisions have changed considerably since 2015
The U.S. federal government taxes personal income using a graduated scale. Tax rates begin at 10%, then increase to 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, and 35%, finally reaching a top rate of 37% as of 2019. Each tax rate applies to a specific range of income, and these ranges are called tax brackets.
The taxable income level at which each bracket begins varies depending on your filing status and the type of income.
Ordinary tax rates apply to most types of income, but a separate tax rate schedule applies to income from long-term capital gains and qualified dividends.
These brackets weren't always set at these percentages. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) reduced the percentages across the board when the law went into effect in January 2018.
Tax Rates in 2015
The charts below show the 2015 tax brackets in the first two columns, the segment applicable to that particular tax rate. This is followed by the ordinary income tax rate applicable to this range of income, then the rates for long-term capital gains and qualified dividends,
Head of Household
Married Filing Separately
Married Filing Jointly / Qualifying Widow or Widower
Calculate Your Tax—An Example
Suppose 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.
Edith would have owed $20,999.25 of federal income tax on her taxable income of $100,000. Her income fell within the 28% tax bracket, but only the portion over $90,750 was taxed at the 28% rate. The rest of her income was taxed at the lower 10, 15, and 25% rates:
- $925.50: 10% of the first $9,225 of her income
- $4,233.75: 15% of the next $28,225 of her income up to $37,450
- $13,250: 25% of the next $53,300 of her income up to $90,750
- $2,590: 28% of the remaining $9,250 of her income
Edith's "effective" or average tax rate is her total tax liability divided by her taxable income—$20,999.25 divided by 100,000, or 20.9%. Her effective tax rate is a blend of all the tax rates that apply to her income.
2015 Personal Exemptions
These dollar amounts are based on taxable income, and this isn't necessarily all the income you might have received during the 2015 tax year. Taxable income is what remains after various deductions are 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, shaving this much off your gross or overall income to arrive at your taxable income.
These exemptions were subject to phaseout thresholds, however. They gradually reduced for taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes (AGIs) over a certain amount, then, eventually, they were eliminated. The 2015 thresholds were:
Filing Status / Phaseout Begins / Exemptions Are Eliminated
Married Filing Jointly
Married Filing Separately
Head of Household
2015 Standard Deductions
You could also subtract a standard deduction from your overall gross income in 2015, and this hasn't changed in 2018—in fact, standard deductions pretty much doubled under the TCJA.
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 option 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
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 according to the above tax brackets. Long-term gains and qualified dividends were taxed at the following percentages in 2015:
- 0% if taxable income falls in the 10% or 15% tax brackets
- 15% if taxable income falls in the 25, 28, 33, or 35% tax brackets
- 20% if taxable income falls in the 39.6% marginal tax bracket
- 25% on depreciation recapture
- 28% on collectibles
- 28% 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 beginning in 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% 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% 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% on taxable income (as recalculated under the AMT rules) under $92,700
- 28% on AMT taxable income over $92,700
For Single, Head of Household, Married Filing Jointly, and Qualifying Widow(er):
- 26% on AMT taxable income under $185,400
- 28% on AMT taxable income over $185,400
The net investment income tax is 3.8% 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.