What Does “Tax Bracket” Mean?

Unbiased financial information provided by Financial Wisdom.

The income tax laws are complex and constantly changing.  Yet, there is one theme that is constant and its understanding may help you identify ways to reduce your tax bill.

The U. S. tax laws are built around a progressive, marginal rate structure.  Simply speaking, this means the higher your income, the higher the rate of tax you pay on your incremental income.

Think of our tax system like stair steps.  Each step represents a “bracket” of income that is taxed at a certain rate.  The higher you go, the higher the tax rate on the income in that bracket.  “Segments” of income at lower levels are taxed at lower rates and “segments” of income at higher levels are taxed at higher rates.

Here are the “brackets” and rates for 2017 tax returns.

Income Tax Rate Schedules for 2017
2017 Single Return Rate Schedule 2017 Married Filing Jointly Rate Schedule
Taxable Income Levels Tax Rate Taxable Income Levels Tax Rate
$0 to $9,325 10% $0 to $18,650 10%
$9,326 to $37,950 15% $18,651 to $75,900 15%
$37,951 to $91,900 25% $75,901 to $153,100 25%
$91,901 to $191,650 28% $153,101 to $233,350 28%
$191,651 to $416,700 33% $233,351 to $416,700 33%
$416,701 to $418,400 35% $416,701 to $470,700 35%
Over $418,400 39.6% Over $470,700 39.6%

There is a great deal more to our income tax laws like the definition of taxable income, deductions, alternative minimum tax and lots more.  Discussing your tax situation with your tax advisor may help you identify ways to take advantage of this marginal rate system and keep your taxes as low as possible.

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