Total Tax

What Is Total Tax?

Total tax, in the context of personal income tax, is the composite total of all taxes owed by a taxpayer for the year.

Key Takeways

  • Total tax makes up all the taxes you owe over a year.
  • Based on your income, total tax amounts are laid out in seven tax brackets from 10% to 37% depending on what you earn.
  • The IRS lists the threshold for individuals, heads of household, and married joint filers for these brackets.
  • Total tax is how the IRS figures out to see if you need a refund or if you owe the government money.
  • Deductions lower your taxable income.

Understanding Total Tax

The total tax is progressive and based on the payer's income. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) publishes income thresholds for seven tax brackets ranging from 10% to 37% each year.

The total tax number is the next-to-last step in the tax formula, and it accounts for all credits and deductions due to the taxpayer but not any tax payments made during the year. Total tax is then compared with payments made to see whether a refund is due or a balance owed.

Total Tax Examples Under the New Tax Law

For a married couple filing jointly in 2022, the lowest total tax is 10% and applies to income up to $20,550 ($22,000 for 2023). Thus if the couple earned $19,000, they would owe exactly $1,900 in federal income tax. A second hypothetical couple with an income over $647,850 ($693,750 for 2023) would pay the highest percentage of 37%.

But note that the tax is graduated: the high-earning couple would owe just 10% on the first $20,550, the same as the first couple, and so on through all the brackets. The only income taxed at 37 percent would be their earnings over $647,850. As such, a couple earning $80,000 in 2022 would owe a total tax of $17,600.

 Single Taxable Income Tax Brackets and Rates, 2022 and 2023

Single Taxable Income Tax Brackets and Rates for 2022
Rate Taxable Income Bracket Tax Owed
  10% $0 to $10,275 $1,028 or 10% of taxable income
  12% $10,276 to $41,775 $1,028 plus 12% of the excess over $10,275
  22% $41,776 to $89,075 $4,807 plus 22% of the excess over $41,775
  24% $89,076 to $170,050 $15,213 plus 24% of the excess over $89,075
  32% $170,051 to $215,950 $34,647 plus 32% of the excess over $170,050
  35% $215,951 to $539,900 $49,334 plus 35% of the excess over $215,950
  37% Over $539,900 $162,716 plus 37% of the excess over $539,900
Single Taxable Income Tax Brackets and Rates for 2023
Rate Taxable Income Bracket Tax Owed
  10% $0 to $11,000 $1,100 or 10% of taxable income
  12% $11,001 to $44,725 $1,100 plus 12% of the excess over $11,000
  22% $44,726 to $95,375 $5,147 plus 22% of the excess over $44,725
  24% $95,376 to $182,100 $16,290 plus 24% of the excess over $95,375
  32% $182,101 to $231,250 $37,103 plus 32% of the excess over $182,100
  35% $231,251 to $578,125 $52,831 plus 35% of the excess over $231,250
  37% Over $578,125 $174,237 plus 37% of the excess over $539,900

Source: Internal Revenue Service.

Married Filing Jointly Taxable Income Tax Brackets and Rates, 2022 and 2023

Married Filing Jointly Taxable Income Tax Brackets and Rates for 2022
Rate Taxable Income Bracket Tax Owed
  10% $0 to $20,550 10% of taxable income
  12% $20,551 to $83,550 $2,055 plus 12% of the excess over $20,550
  22% $83,551 to $178,150 $9,615 plus 22% of the excess over $83,550
  24% $178,151 to $340,100 $30,427 plus 24% of the excess over $178,150
  32% $340,101 to $431,900 $69,295 plus 32% of the excess over $340,100
  35% $431,901 to $647,850 $98,671 plus 35% of the excess over $431,900
  37% over $647,850 $174,253 plus 37% of the excess over $647,850
Married Filing Jointly Taxable Income Tax Brackets and Rates for 2023
Rate Taxable Income Bracket Tax Owed
  10% $0 to $22,000 10% of taxable income
  12% $22,001 to $89,450 $2,200 plus 12% of the excess over $22,000
  22% $89,451 to $190,750 $10,294 plus 22% of the excess over $89,450
  24% $190,751 to $364,200 $32,580 plus 24% of the excess over $190,750
  32% $364,201 to $462,500 $74,208 plus 32% of the excess over $364,200
  35% $462,501 to $693,750 $105,664 plus 35% of the excess over $462,500
  37% over $693,750 $186,601 plus 37% of the excess over $693,750

Source: Internal Revenue Service.

Example of How Deductions Affect Total Tax

Total tax includes income, the alternative minimum tax, and self-employment tax. It is calculated after deductions, which have been simplified and somewhat increased for most filers with the latest tax reform.

For example, under the pre-2018 tax system, married couples filing jointly were entitled to a standard deduction of $13,850. In 2022, they will receive a standard deduction of $25,900, and in 2023, the standard deduction jumps by $1,800 more. While these amounts may seem significant compared to 2018 figures, the government has also eliminated the individual exemption of $4,050 (or $8,100 for a couple).

The higher standard deduction will mean fewer homeowners can claim the mortgage interest deduction and other personal deductions, which must be higher than the standard deduction to take effect.

Finally, note that while the total tax is indeed total, it is hardly permanent. Many parts of the 2017 tax reform act have sunset provisions. The most important from the standpoint of middle-class taxpayers will be the expiration at the end of 2025 of most of the new deduction and exemption rules. Unless Congress acts before then, the total tax for most filers will then revert more or less to the previous levels.

Article Sources
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  1. Internal Revenue Service. "Part III, Administrative, Procedural, and Miscellaneous," Pages 5-7.

  2. IRS. "IRS provides tax inflation adjustments for tax year 2023."

  3. Internal Revenue Service. "IRS Provides Tax Inflation Adjustments for Tax Year 2022."

  4. Internal Revenue Service. "Publication 17: Your Federal Income Tax."

  5. Internal Revenue Service. "Publication 501 (2017): Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information," Page 26.

  6. Internal Revenue Service, "Publication 501 (2016): Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information," Page 11.

  7. Internal Revenue Service. "Publication 936: Home Mortgage Interest Deduction."

  8. U.S. Congress. "Subtitle A—Individual Tax Reform (The Tax Cut and Jobs Act 2017)," Page 1.

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