What Is a Tax Schedule?

A tax schedule is a rate sheet used by individual or corporate taxpayers to determine their estimated taxes due. The schedule provides tax rates for given ranges of taxable income, as well as for particular taxable circumstances. The tax schedule is also called the rate schedule or tax rate schedule.

How Tax Schedules Work

There are four main tax schedules used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), based on the filing status of the individual:

The main tax schedules have income breakpoints clearly stated and show which tax rates apply above and beneath these breakpoints. The tax rate schedules for 2018 are:

2018 Tax Rate Schedules

These schedules will typically change each tax year and may have different income ranges than those shown on state or municipality tax forms. Each year the IRS updates or adjusts the rate schedules in accordance with guidelines that Congress established in the IRC. In general, the IRS bases such adjustments on inflation and cost of living increases in the previous year.

Key Takeaways

  • A tax schedule is an official form that spells out how much taxes are due for a particular taxpayer and their circumstances.
  • In the U.S., the IRS publishes several tax schedules to help individuals calculate their income taxes due.
  • Schedules X, Y, and Z spell out the marginal rates owed by individual or married taxpayers, while several other specialized schedules exist to help account for capital gains, dividends, interest, and itemized deductions, among others.

Other Tax Schedules

Tax schedule is also used to describe the various addendum sheets to IRS Form 1040, which include Schedules A (itemized deductions), B (dividend & interest income), C and C-EZ (self-employment business profit or loss), D (capital gains), EIC (earned income tax credit), and SE (self-employment tax). A tax schedule is to be prepared in addition to your tax return when you have certain types of income and deductions. The amounts put down on these tax schedule forms are transferred to Form 1040. A taxpayer that qualifies to use the shorter and simpler Form 1040EZ does not need to complete any of the tax schedules.

Schedule L is a form attached to Form 1040 that is used to calculate the standard deduction for certain tax filers. Schedule L is only used by taxpayers who are increasing their standard deduction by reporting state or local real estate taxes, taxes from the purchase of a new motor vehicle or from a net disaster loss reported on Form 4684. Schedule L is also used for those who file Form 990 or Form 990-EZ to provide information about the financial transactions and arrangements between the organization that filed the forms and disqualified persons under section 4958, or other interested persons. The Schedule L is also used a way to distinguish members of an organization governing body as independent members.  

Schedule D is one of the many schedules attached to U.S. Individual Income Tax Return Form 1040 that you must complete to report any gains or losses you realize from the sale of your capital assets. Your capital assets are, pretty much, everything you own and use for pleasure or investment purposes. The capital assets you are most likely to report on Schedule D are the stocks, bonds, and homes you sell.

The Schedule K-1 is an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax form issued annually for an investment in partnership interests. The purpose of the Schedule K-1 is to report each partner's share of the partnership's earnings, losses, deductions, and credits. It serves a similar purpose for tax reporting as one of the various Forms 1099, which report dividend or interest from securities or income from the sale of securities.

Investors can find all federal tax schedules on the IRS website, www.irs.gov.