What are the Federal Income Tax Brackets for 2020 and 2021?

It’s the start of a new year, and with that, the start of the 2020 tax filing season. These next few months can be complicated for taxpayers. On the one hand, we’re looking back at 2020 to prepare our returns and file by the April 15 deadline. But at the same time, we’re already looking ahead to the 2021 tax year, and planning our finances accordingly.

Since tax brackets get adjusted every year for inflation, you could still wind up paying a different rate from year to year even if your income doesn’t change. So, let’s take a look at both the 2020 and 2021 Federal Income Tax Brackets.


How Do Tax Brackets Work?

Tax brackets are used to determine your marginal income tax rate. We use the word marginal because your tax bracket does not describe an absolute tax rate.

IRS Form 1040 and a Calculator

For example, say you’re a single filer and made $65,000 in 2020 – you’d fall into the bracket for a 22% marginal rate. This does not mean your whole income is taxed at 22%. Instead, it means that the first $9,875 of your income is taxed at 10%. Your next $30,250 of income (the amount from $9,875 to $40,125) is taxed at 12%, and the rest is taxed at 22%.


If you were taxed at a flat rate of 22%, your income tax would amount to $14,300. Instead, your bill comes out to $12,262.50.

This marginal tax system results in lower taxes and eliminates unfair penalties for entering higher tax brackets.


How Do I Know Which Tax Bracket I’m in?

All you need to know to determine your tax bracket is your income and your filing status.

If you’re a single individual or a married individual filing separately, use the column on the left side of the chart below to find the marginal tax rate corresponding with your annual income.

Married couples filing jointly will use the middle column. Each tax bracket for couples is twice as large as those for individuals.

And finally, heads of households will use the column on the right. To qualify as a head of household, you must:

  •     you must be unmarried,
  •     you must pay for at least half the cost of keeping up a home,
  •     and a qualifying person must live in that home with you for more than half a year.

Once you’ve determined your filing status, reference the charts below to calculate a marginal tax rate based on your annual income.


2020 Income Tax Brackets

These are the tax brackets you’ll use to prepare your 2020 returns.

Rate For Single Individuals, or Married Individuals Filing Separately For Married Couples Filing Joint Returns For Heads of Households
10% Up to $9,875 Up to $19,750 Up to $14,100
12% $9,876 to $40,125 $19,751 to $80,250 $14,101 to $53,700
22% $40,126 to $85,525 $80,251 to $171,050 $53,701 to $85,500
24% $85,526 to $163,300 $171,051 to $326,600 $85,501 to $163,300
32% $163,301 to $207,350 $326,601 to $414,700 $163,301 to $207,350
35% $207,351 to $518,400 $414,701 to $622,050 $207,351 to $518,400
37% $518,401 or more $622,051 or more $518,401 or more


2021 Income Tax Brackets

These are the tax brackets for the tax year 2021, which you’ll file next year. Though the same rates (10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, 37%) are used, the dollar cutoffs for each bracket are a bit higher to account for inflation.

Rate For Single Individuals, or Married Individuals Filing Separately For Married Couples Filing Joint Returns For Heads of Households
10% Up to $9,950 Up to $19,900


Up to $14,200


12% $9,951 to $40,525 $19,901 to $81,050


$14,201 to $54,200


22% $40,526 to $86,375 $81,051 to $172,750


$54,201 to $86,350


24% $86,376 to $164,925


$172,751 to $329,850


$86,351 to $164,900


32% $164,926 to $209,425


$329,851 to $418,850


$164,901 to $209,400


35% $209,426 to $523,600


$418,851 to $628,300


$209,401 to $523,600


37% Over $523,600 Over $628,300


Over $523,600




Contact Boxelder Consulting

If you need help determining your filing status, taxable income, or marginal tax rate, give us a call at 303-317-6111 for a free consultation. This process can be confusing and stressful if handled alone. Our team of licensed tax attorneys and accountants can help you file your returns accurately and maximize your deductions.

And if you’re behind on your taxes, don’t hesitate to reach out. Take the first step towards resolution and give us a call. We believe in second chances.




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About the Author

A company founder standing by Colorado's Front Range

Tom Conradt

Co-Founder, IRS Collections Defense Attorney

Tom Conradt is the co-founder of Boxelder Consulting & Tax Relief, and has been practicing IRS Collections defense law for the past ten years. Graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Tom is the lead IRS Collections Defense Attorney and heads the tax resolution department. Tom’s favorite part about working at Boxelder Consulting is hearing about the relief that clients experience after they sign up and start seeing immediate results on their case. Tom enjoys all the outdoor activities Colorado has to offer, including skiing, hiking and climbing. He is also looking forward to the return of indoor pickup basketball.

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