Tax brackets 2017: Here's the rate you pay the IRS for tax year 2016, based on your income


Let's talk brackets. No, not those brackets. Tax brackets. They exist because we have progressive income tax system in the U.S. Put simply: the more money you make, the more tax you pay. At least in theory.

Reality is not always so simple. One reason President Donald Trump's recently revealed 2005 tax returns have gotten attention is that the leaked documents show Trump paid the alternative minimum tax, a tax levied on high-income earners to ensure loopholes don't allow them to pay a very low effective tax rate. The effective rate Trump paid was about 25%. But if the AMT were eliminated, as Trump's administration has proposed, his tax rate would have been only about 4% — on $150 million in income. 

Confused yet? Essentially, tax brackets can't always show how much you will actually pay. Your tax bracket just shows you the tax rate you pay on the top dollar of your taxable income — aka your marginal rate. It isn't the rate you pay on the entirety of your income after adjustments, deductions and exemptions. You may pay 10% on a part of your income and 15% on the rest, for example.

The final amount you really pay depends on how much you earn; your filing status (whether you're single, married etc.); your adjustments (including student loan interest payments, IRA contributions and moving expenses); your exemptions (usually one for you, a spouse, and for kids); your deductions (including charitable donations and medical expenses); and tax credits (which apply to your final bill in special circumstances like low income or adoption). 

But the rates give you a ballpark sense of what you owe. Your individual tax returns are due Tuesday, April 18. Are you ready?

Here are the percentages you're taxed, based on your income.

What are the 2016 tax brackets?

The amount of federal income tax you pay depends on how much money you make and your filing status. Questions about filing status look at whether you are single, married filing jointly, married filing separately or head of household.

Here is a breakdown of the brackets for tax year 2016 from, a non-governmental, privately owned website, operated by First find your filing status, and then find the range in which your taxable income falls — the figure after that shows how much tax you will owe.

Single filer

$0—$9,275: 10%

Married Filing Jointly or Qualifying Widow(er)

$0—$18,550: 10%

Married Filing Separately

$0—$9,275: 10%

Head of Household

$0—$13,250: 10%

The IRS also publishes tax tables, which outline how much tax you owe based on your income up to $100,000. If you make more than $100,000, you need to use the tax computation worksheet.

There are other resources online to help you tally your numbers. TaxAct has a calculator to help you determine your tax bracket; SmartAsset has a tax calculator; Bankrate also has a tax calculator to figure how much you owe.

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