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Tax tables

You need to understand what tax tables are. Here’s what to know.

What are tax tables?

Each year, the IRS publishes its revised tax tables and taxpayers determine how much tax they owe. The specific dollar amount of tax they owe is based on their filing status, their deductions and exemptions, and the amount of income they earn.

Deeper definition

Also known as tax brackets, tax tables change every year. In fact, the IRS adjusts more than 40 tax provisions for inflation to prevent “bracket creep” — where taxpayers move into higher tax brackets or have reduced credits or deductions because of inflation, rather than from any increase in real income.

When people refer to the tax tables, they use their net income, not their gross income. This means they compute their taxes based on the pay they have left after taxes.

In addition, they subtract any deductions, exemptions and allowances they can claim, and then use the remaining amount when determining what they owe. These deductions reduce their taxable income and their tax liability.

So, when people calculate their taxes based on their taxable income, they’ll use the tax tables to learn the taxes they owe. Then, they enter it on their tax return.

There are four tax tables from the IRS. They’re for single filers, married filing jointly, married filing separately and head of household. For qualifying widows or widowers, they can use the married filing jointly category.

To be sure, each tax table includes the tax bracket, the rate at which those in that bracket are taxed and the actual taxes owed.

Tax rates start at 10 percent for the lowest income filers and go up to 39.6 percent for high-income filers. Except for the lowest bracket, filers pay a flat tax as well as a levy based on the rate.

In addition, most states use tax tables to determine personal income tax. Seven states that don’t include Nevada, Texas, Washington, Alaska, Florida, South Dakota and Wyoming. Two other states — Tennessee and New Hampshire — only assess a tax on dividend and interest income.

Tax table example

In 2017, Chandler will file taxes as a single filer. He brings home a salary of $65,000 a year as a civil engineer. When he checks the IRS tax table for single filers, he finds himself squarely in the 25 percent tax bracket, where he will pay $5,226.25, plus 25 percent of the excess over $37,950, excluding deductions and exemptions.

Unsure what tax bracket you’re in? Use this calculator to find out.

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