Tax brackets refer to the table created when matching filing statuses with their corresponding tax rates. There are three components of a tax bracket: filing status, tax rate, and income range. Tax rates are shown on the Y-axis and filing statuses are shown on the X-axis. The amount of income taxed at a specific rate for a specific income amount is found in the body of the tax bracket. Each of the seven tax rates applies to a specific level of income rather than applying to all of a taxpayer’s taxable income. Taxpayers use a tax bracket to determine what their tax rates are.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) uses a progressive tax system, meaning that the more a taxpayer earns the more tax will be owed.

Taxpayers pick which filing status is most appropriate to their situation, and calculate how much income is taxable after accounting for deductions and exemptions. There are five filing statuses: single, married filing separately, married filing jointly, head of household, and qualifying widow/widower with dependent child. There are also six marginal income tax brackets, each assigned a different tax rate.


2019 Tax Brackets
Tax rate Single filers Married filing jointly or qualifying widow/widower Married filing separately Head of household
10% Up to $9,525 Up to $19,050 Up to $9,525 Up to $13,600
12% $9,526 to $38,700 $19,051 to $77,400 $9,526 to $38,700 $13,601 to $51,800
22% $38,701 to $82,500 $77,401 to $165,000 $38,701 to $82,500 $51,801 to $82,500
24% $82,501 to $157,500 $165,001 to $315,000 $82,501 to $157,500 $82,501 to $157,500
32% $157,501 to $200,000 $315,001 to $400,000 $157,501 to $200,000 $157,5011 to $200,000
35% $200,001 to $500,000 $400,001 to $600,000 $200,001 to $300,000 $200,001 to $500,000
37% $500,001 or more $600,001 or more $300,001 or more $500,001 or more

For example, a taxpayer who earns $50,000 and files as single does not pay a tax rate of 24% on all taxable income, but only income between $82,501 and $157,500. He or she will pay a tax rate of 10% on the first $9,525 of income, and 12% on income between $9,526 and $38,700. 

Key Takeaways

  • Tax brackets refer to the table created when matching filing statuses with their corresponding tax rates. 
  • There are three components of a tax bracket: filing status, tax rate, and income range. 
  • There are five filing statuses with different tax rates: single, married filing separately, married filing jointly, head of household, and qualifying widow/widower with dependent child.