What Is a Personal Income Tax Rate?

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The United State has a progressive income tax system. That means that the tax rate you pay increases as your income rises. In other words, the amount of taxes you pay on the first dollar you earn is generally lower than the amount you pay on the last dollar. As of 2009, the federal system had six tax brackets. In contrast, many states use a flat-rate system, which means the same rate is charged on all income. The figures in this article come from the tax bracket limits applied in 2009. The brackets are adjusted each year for inflation.

Range of Rates

As of 2009, the income tax rate varies from 10 percent to 35 percent. The income level that triggers a new tax bracket depends on how you file: single; married filing jointly; married filing separately; or head of household (meaning you are unmarried, have a dependent and paid the cost of maintaining your household for more than half the tax year).

Filing Status: Single

Single filers paid a 10 percent rate on taxable income up to $8,350; then 15 percent on income up to $33,950; then 25 percent up to $82,250; then 28 percent up to $171,550; then 33 percent up to $372,950; and 35 percent on taxable earnings above that.

Filing Status: Married, Filing Jointly

Married couples can combine their income and file jointly. If they did so in 2009, they paid a 10 percent rate on taxable income up to $16,700; then 15 percent on income up to $67,900; then 25 percent up to $137,050; then 28 percent up to $208,850; then 33 percent up to $372,950; and 35 percent on taxable earnings above that.

Filing Status: Married, Filing Separately

Some married couples find it to their advantage to file separately, depending on such factors as the disparity in their incomes and their available deductions. In such cases, each person paid 10 percent on taxable income up to $8,350; then 15 percent on income up to $33,950; then 25 percent up to $68,525; then 28 percent up to $104,425; then 33 percent up to $186,475; and 35 percent on taxable earnings above that.

Filing Status: Head of Household

Those who qualified as head of household paid 10 percent on taxable income up to $11,950; then 15 percent on income up to $45,500; then 25 percent up to $117,450; then 28 percent up to $190,200; then 33 percent up to $372,950; and 35 percent on taxable earnings above that.

Standard Deductions

The IRS has established standard deductions based on the type of filer that reduce taxable income. The standard deductions are: $5,700 (single), $11,400 (married, filing jointly), $8,350 (head of household) and $5,700 (married, filing separately). A $950 deduction is given for each dependant. An additional deduction of $1,400 is allowed for those over 64 and/or blind. Tax filers whose allowable deductions exceed the standard amounts may benefit by itemizing their deductions on Schedule A.

Personal Exemptions

The IRS also allows filers to claim a personal exemption. In 2009, the amount was $3,650 for each filer, spouse, and dependent. Like the deductions, the exemptions reduce taxable income. Exemptions are phased out on higher income filers.

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