What are Tax Tables?
Your filing status determines which tax table you must use to compute your income tax. According to the IRS, your filing status should reflect your marital status on Dec. 31, regardless of your status throughout the rest of the year. The federal government divides filing status for tax purposes into four categories: single, married filing separately, married filing jointly or head of household. If you are a qualifying widow or widower, you can use the married filing jointly category.
You should choose the category that gives you the lowest overall tax liability if you qualify for more than one. For example, if you are eligible to file as head of household, then you are also eligible to file as single. However, choosing to file as head of household will save you a significant amount of income tax in most cases.
Tax tables are based on taxable income, not your gross income. The IRS allows you to take certain deductions and exemptions from your gross income to calculate your taxable income. Essentially, this results in a portion of your income not being subject to income tax. For example, in 2010 the lowest tax bracket for a single filer was 10 percent on the first $8,375 of taxable income. However, a single taxpayer is able to claim a $5,700 standard deduction and a $3,650 personal exemption. Effectively, this means that only your earnings in excess of $9,350 can be considered taxable income and subject to the tax you see in the tax tables.
When you prepare your taxes, one of the last steps is referencing the tax tables to determine the amount of tax you owe for your level of taxable income. Tax tables are set up with different columns for each filing status and rows of various taxable income amounts on the left. You will find your tax liability for the year where your taxable income and filing status meet on the table. You must then transfer this amount to your personal income tax form.
Remember, when you use TurboTax, we’ll ask you simple questions about your income and deductions, and do all the math for you. You won’t need to know a thing about tax tables.
The seven states that do not assess personal income tax are Nevada, Texas, Washington, Alaska, Florida, South Dakota and Wyoming. Two additional states, Tennessee and New Hampshire, only assess tax on dividend and interest income. The remaining states have their own tax tables that you can use in a similar fashion, but will incorporate the state-specific income tax rates.