What Are The Tax Brackets?

Every year the tax brackets in the US change.  Sometimes they change based on what Congress decide – the Bush era tax cuts, for example – whereas other years the only change is an adjustment for inflation.

So, when filing your tax return it’s important that you work out what tax you owe based on the current tax brackets.  Our guide looks at the 2011 tax brackets and also contains a guide to working out what tax you owe.

2011 tax brackets

The tax brackets in 2011 depend on your filing status as follows:

Tax rate Single Head of Household Married Filing Jointly or Surviving Spouse Married Filing Separately
10% Up to $8,500 Up to $12,150 Up to $17,000 Up to $8,500
15% $8,501 to $34,500 $12,151 to $46,250 $17,001 to $69,000 $8,501 to $34,500
25% $34,501 to $83,600 $46,251 to $119,400 $69,001 to $139,350 $34,501 to $69,675
28% $83,601 to $174,400 $119,401 to $193,350 $139,351 to $212,300 $69,676 to $106,150
33% $174,401 to $379,150 $193,351 to $379,150 $212,301 to $379,150 $105,151 to $189,575


35% $379,151 or more $379,151 or more $379,151 or more $189,576 or more

 Working out what tax you pay

If you are trying to calculate your taxes due, there are two important factors to remember.

Firstly, any taxes that you pay are based on your taxable income.  This is your adjusted income after you have taken deductions and adjustments into account.

Secondly, you may pay tax at several different rates.  For example, if you are a single person and you have taxable income of $200,000, you do not pay all of your tax at the rate of 33%.  You will pay some at 10%, some at 15%, some at 25%, some at 28% and some at 33%.  You only pay 33% tax on the portion of your income over $174,401 ($25,600).

In this example – assuming taxable income of $200,000 – your tax bill would be worked out as follows:

Your total tax bill would be $50,897 NOT simply 33% of $200,000 ($66,000).

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