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2012 Federal Income Tax Brackets and Marginal Rates

This article was written by in Taxes. 30 comments.


The IRS has finalized the 2012 federal income tax brackets, but most people aren’t concerned with these numbers until next year. In April 2012, you’ll need to be concerned with the 2011 tax brackets to file your 2011 income tax returns. Most taxpayers won’t need to deal with the 2012 rates until early 2013.

While tax laws are always in flux, and things could change before 2012 tax returns are due in April 2013, the new tax brackets are official. They increase each year due to inflation. I’ll update these tax tables if the IRS announces any changes. For those who like to get a head start on their tax planning, these tables will at least provide a starting point.

Here are the tax tables for 2012, applicable for taxpayers filing by April 2013, still in the distant future. Keep in mind that the “taxable income” used in these tables is not your gross income. Taxable income already has certain deductions removed, like 401(k) contributions.

To lower your tax burden this year by up to $5,000, consider opening an IRA (Individual Retirement Account). Mint.com has an IRA wizard that can show you what kind of IRA to open and where to open it.

Married individuals filing joint returns and surviving spouses

If Taxable Income Is: The Tax Is:
Not over $17,400 10% of the taxable income
Over $17,400 but not over $70,700 $1,740 plus 15% of the excess over $17,400
Over $70,700 but not over $142,700 $9,735 plus 25% of the excess over $70,700
Over $142,700 but not over $217,450 $27,735 plus 28% of the excess over $142,700
Over $217,450 but not over $388,350 $48,665 plus 33% of the excess over $217,450
Over $388,350 $105,062 plus 35% of the excess over $388,350
Standard deduction $11,900

Heads of households

If Taxable Income Is: The Tax Is:
Not over $12,400 10% of the taxable income
Over $12,400 but not over $47,350 $1,240 plus 15% of the excess over $12,400
Over $47,350 but not over $122,300 $6,482.50 plus 25% of the excess over $47,350
Over $122,300 but not over $198,050 $25,220 plus 28% of the excess over $122,300
Over $198,050 but not over $388,350 $46,430 plus 33% of the excess over $198,050
Over $388,350 $109,229 plus 35% of the excess over $388,350
Standard deduction $8,700

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Unmarried individuals (other than surviving spouses and heads of households)

If Taxable Income Is: The Tax Is:
Not over $8,700 10% of the taxable income
Over $8,700 but not over $35,350 $870 plus 15% of the excess over $8,700
Over $35,350 but not over $85,650 $4,867.50 plus 25% of the excess over $35,350
Over $85,650 but not over $178,650 $17,442.50 plus 28% of the excess over $85,650
Over $178,650 but not over $388,350 $43,482.50 plus 33% of the excess over $178,650
Over $388,350 $112,683.50 plus 35% of the excess over $388,350
Standard deduction $5,950


Married individuals filing separate returns

If Taxable Income Is: The Tax Is:
Not over $8,700 10% of the taxable income
Over $8,700 but not over $35,350 $870 plus 15% of the excess over $8,700
Over $35,350 but not over $71,350 $4,867.50 plus 25% of the excess over $35,350
Over $71,350 but not over $108,725 $13,867.50 plus 28% of the excess over $71,350
Over $108,725 but not over $194,175 $24,332.50 plus 33% of the excess over $108,725
Over $194,175 $52,531 plus 35% of the excess over $194,175
Standard deduction $5,950

I am not a tax professional. If you have any questions about your particular tax situation, seek the advice of a tax accountant.

Updated February 11, 2014 and originally published September 28, 2011. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar SteveDH

For some of the “Old Folk” like me this is good news. There will be more headroom between my taxable income and the ceiling of the 15% tax bracket. This gives me the opportunity to roll more traditional IRA dollars into the ROTH IRA, paying 15%, rather than waiting for the Required Minimum Distribution a few years from now and paying 25%. A little wrinkle in the tax laws gives the wrinkled a tax break – cool.

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avatar wylerassociate ♦162 (Cent)

thanks for the tables flexo, this will be very helpful.

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avatar Jared Gruber

Well, that’s depressing, yet informative. Super depressing.

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avatar Ceecee ♦53 (Newbie)

I think the devil is in the deduction details. We have seen lately that the wealthy may pay a lesser % due to capital gains being taxed at a lower amount. Wealthier people also have the freedom to manipulate their money better—decide whether to take a hit this year or next? Poorer people have no choice sometimes—-they need all of their money NOW! They also may have no option for the lower capital gains tax as they can’t tie their money up in investments.

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avatar Mike

As long as the wealthy people get their income through stocks they will pay a lower rate. If they get their cash through regular income they will be taxed more.

So basically if they are Warren Buffet or some big CEO they will be taxed less since they can choose to pay themselves through company shares. If they are a highly paid professional or some small business owner they will be taxed more since they don’t have that option.

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avatar Myron

The “dirty Rich” who pay a lower Capital Gains tax rate already paid the Income Tax on that money when they first earned it. And now have to pay again for saving it.

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avatar Marie

They don’t pay anything on their “saved” investments. However, when they take money earned by their investments, they rightly have to pay taxes on it. Since the money that earns money is not a person and thus cannot be taxed, the individual who gets the money pays the tax. Why shouldn’t the tax rate for money earned by money be the same money earned by people?

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avatar Mike

Probably because of risk reward. Getting taxed at a lower rate won’t really help you if your investments tank like Facebook. Plus everyone would be day trading if long term cap gains were the same as short term cap gains.

Maybe if Romney invested in tax free muni bonds he’d have an even lower tax rate and he wouldn’t be ragged on so much.

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avatar shellye ♦107 (Cent)

I want to meet the person or people who thinks these tables up. Do they just pull dollar amounts out of thin air? LOL There is no rhyme or reason to any of them.

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avatar Mike

Probably politicians. If you think of it in a way that generates them the most votes you will get your answer.

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avatar Apex

The tables are not just thought up and no they do not pull dollar amounts of of thin air. The brackets have been unchanged since the 2003 Bush Tax law. Each year the dollar amounts for each bracket are adjusted on a formula based on inflation. No one thinks up anything. There is perfect rhyme or reason to every number on there. If you know the number from last year and you know the inflation multiplier you can come up with all these numbers on your own (rounded to the nearest 25 or 50 dollars). That’s why someone is able to produce this table prior to the real one being produced.

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avatar NB

Too bad our pay isn’t adjusted due to the cost of living.

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avatar Paul

I will be using these tables in 2012 itself, since I adjust my W-4 every time my tax situation changes. I don’t believe in giving away more money than I have to ahead of time.

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avatar lynn ♦155 (Cent)

There is a catagory for up to 8700.00. The way others talk on the internet, I was under the impression this level didn’t pay taxes.

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avatar Paul

Well, remember that this is your income after deductions. The standard for a single person is $9350 in 2011, and for married it’s $18700. If you have children, you get to deduct more for them, and also if you own a home. Here’s an article showing how it’s possible to earn $50000 and deduct everything:
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Nearly-half-of-US-households-apf-1105567323.html

Really if the tax code is skewed against anyone, it’s against single apartment-dwellers like me (but then I don’t have to pay property tax.)

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avatar woody

Believe me. You pay property taxes in your rent. Don’t think for a second that your landlord doesn’t figure what he pays in property taxes into what he charges you each month for rent. Unfortunately for you, he gets to deduct those taxes off his bottom line, not you.

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avatar Jeremy Gerdes

Are the “additional value”s from the third row down on each of the charts incorrect or am I missing something? I was under the assumption that in our tiered tax bracket system that we all payed the same tax rates on the sequential incomes that we earn.

So this additional value should be the previous tax brackets additional amount plus the product of difference between the “but not over” and the “over” times that rate. (This is difficult to explain so here is math)

Row two of “married”
$17,400.00 $70,700.00 15% $1,740.00

The next rows additional value would then be

$1,740+%15*($70,700-$17400) = $9,735.00

Not the $9,930 listed for married brackets? What am I missing?

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,435 (Platinum)

You are correct. I’ve fixed the calculation for the Married table.

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avatar qixx ♦1,880 (Half-Dollar)

These tables look like i’ll not need to make any changes on my tax withholding. I expect to get a small refund come tax time with almost all of it being from credits.

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avatar prt1984 ♦117 (Cent)

not every body makes enough money to open an IRA or to even invest the money into something. Alot of us live from pay check to pay check and with taxes like they are it just seems like every little thing is taxed now like where i live we are taxed on everything and it is crazy.

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avatar Jeff

The head of household calculations do not make sense to me. (maybe it’s me). 10% of $12,400 is not $1400. What am I missing?

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,435 (Platinum)

You are correct.

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avatar tax

It is unreal that people who go to work spend half a year of work to pay taxes. However, we live in a wonderful country with freedoms. You tax the middle class any more, they will work to pay federal, state, local, school, sales, and all of the other taxes around, they should be treated to the benefits of a part time government employee.

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avatar Chris

Oops, you made a classic mistake when you stated, “While tax laws are always in flux, and things could change before 2012 tax returns are due in April 2012…” 2012 tax returns are due in April 2013.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,435 (Platinum)

You are correct, of course.

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avatar Paul Potter

The tax code sucks my wife and I owe 5k this year and one reason for this is the 1500 per kid deduction drops to 500 dollars at some point around 142k stinks I never knew this. We dont get our deductions but some deadbeat collecting free food ,housing ,daycare ,healthcare,ect and has five kids that has not paid one dime in taxes will get 1200 bucks to go on a shopping spree while I have to pay. I will serve tea in a bag the next person that runs their mouth about how bad the poor has it.

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avatar Lisa

If i am single and head of household and gross $34,000 and my son goes to college. How much more will i have to pay for federal tax? And will i get a refund ?

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avatar Patsy

I wonder also if I will get anything. I only made a little over 3,000 this year because I meant a lot of time in the hospital with heart failure! I am divorced with two daughters in college (freshmen and sophmore) and one daughter in high school. I hope to get something.

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avatar aaron

I never understood how you can make changes to taxes in 2013 and it applies to what I earned in 2012. Sounds highly illegal because I should be paying taxes on the tax laws that were in effect while I was making that money!

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avatar Yvonne

I feel that that goverment takes too much already. When is it going to end? I am grateful that i didn’t end up paying but where does all my taxed income go to? I am sorry but I feel depressed knowing that all my hard work goes to those that don’t work and want everthing free.

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