TurboTax / Tax Calculators & Tips / All Tax Guides / General Tax Tips / How to Read Federal Tax Tables

How to Read Federal Tax Tables

Updated for Tax Year 2016


OVERVIEW

Understanding how to use the federal tax tables will make it easier for you to calculate the tax you owe.


To help individuals calculate their income taxes, the Internal Revenue Service publishes tax tables each year in the instructions to your tax return and in IRS Publication 17. Understanding how to use the tables will make it easier for you to calculate the tax you owe or can provide you with an estimate of your future tax bills in case you need to budget for it.

Step 1 - Determine your filing status

The IRS allows you to choose any filing status that you are eligible for. This is important since the amount of your standard deduction will vary depending on which filing status you choose. In 2016 for example, single filers can claim a standard deduction of $6,300; however, if you also qualify to file as head of household, your deduction increases to $9,300.

Step 2 - Calculate your taxable income

Your taxable income is generally equal to your gross income less the standard deduction for your filing status or the total of your itemized deductions. Reduce your income by the amounts of other deductions you are eligible to claim plus any exemptions you can take for yourself and your dependents to arrive at your taxable income.

Online calculators like our own TaxCaster calculator can help with this. Also, when you use TurboTax to prepare your taxes, we’ll calculate your taxable income for you.

Step 3 - Determine your income bracket

Locate the tax table in the most recent version of IRS Publication 17. Find the income bracket that contains your taxable income in the left hand column of the table. For example, if you have $33,460, you would use the income bracket ranging from $33,450 to $33,500.

Step 4 - Identify your tax filing status

Find your tax filing status in the top row of the table. Each filing status has a different column so be sure you use the one for your filing status or you will get the wrong amount of taxes due.

Step 5 - Find the amount of tax you owe

Find where the row with your income and the column for your filing status intersect. This is the amount of tax that you owe. For this example, if you are single, you would find where the single column and $34,450 to $34,500 row intersect.

Let TurboTax do the work

The steps above are for calculating your taxes by hand. If you use TurboTax, we’ll just ask you simple questions about things like your income, home and family situation and do all the calculations for you. You don’t need to know anything about tax brackets or tax tables – we’ll determine the best filing status for you to get you the biggest tax refund you deserve.

Get every deduction you deserve

TurboTax Deluxe searches more than 350 tax deductions and credits so you get your maximum refund, guaranteed.

For only $54.99$34.99*
Start for Free

Looking for more information?

The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on taxes, your investments, the law, or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.


Security is built into everything we do
Here's how
* Important Offer Details and Disclosures
  • TURBOTAX ONLINE/MOBILE

  • Try for Free/Pay When You File: TurboTax online and mobile pricing is based on your tax situation and varies by product. Free 1040EZ/1040A + Free State offer only available with TurboTax Federal Free Edition; Offer may change or end at any time without notice. Actual prices are determined at the time of print or e-file and are subject to change without notice. Savings and price comparisons based on anticipated price increase expected in March. Special discount offers may not be valid for mobile in-app purchases.
  • TurboTax Self-Employed ExpenseFinder: ExpenseFinder™ is available year round as a feature of QuickBooks Self-Employed (available with TurboTax Self-Employed, see the “QuickBooks Self-Employed Offer with TurboTax Self-Employed” details below.) ExpenseFinder™ expected late January (late February for mobile app). ExpenseFinder™ not available from within TurboTax Self-Employed for people with certain types of expenses and tax situations including paying contractors or employees, home office or vehicle actuals, inventory, self employed health insurance or retirement, asset depreciation, sale of property or vehicles, and farm income. Availability of historical transactions for import may vary by financial institution. Not available for all financial institutions or all credit cards.
  • QuickBooks Self-Employed Offer: File your 2016 TurboTax Self-Employed return by 4/18/17 and receive your complimentary subscription to QuickBooks Self-Employed until 4/30/18. Activation required. Log in to QuickBooks Self-Employed by 7/15/17 via mobile app or at https://selfemployed.intuit.com/turbotax; e-mail address used for activation and log-in. Offer valid only for new QuickBooks Self-Employed customers. See QuickBooks.com for price comparison.
    • When you use TurboTax Self-Employed to file your 2017 taxes, you will have the option to renew your QuickBooks Self-Employed subscription. If you do not file with TurboTax Self-Employed by 4/18/18, you will have the option of renewing your QuickBooks Self-Employed subscription by 4/30/18 for another year at the then-current annual subscription rate. You may cancel your subscription at any time from within the QuickBooks Self-Employed billing section.
  • Pays for itself: In order to pay for the price of TurboTax Self-Employed, you will need at least $600 in deductible business expenses. This calculation is based on the self-employment tax income rate for tax year 2016.
  • Anytime, anywhere: Internet access required; standard message and data rates apply to download and use mobile app.
  • Fastest refund possible: Fastest tax refund with e-file and direct deposit; tax refund time frames will vary.
  • Pay for TurboTax out of your federal refund: $X.XX Refund Processing Service fee applies to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice.
  • TurboTax Expert Help, Tax Advice and SmartLook: Included with Deluxe, Premier and Self-Employed (via phone or SmartLook); not included with Federal Free Edition. Feature availability varies by device. State tax advice is free. Service, experience levels, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice.
  • #1 best-selling tax software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2015 TurboTax products.
  • Most Popular: TurboTax Deluxe is our most popular product among TurboTax Online users with more complex tax situations.
  • CompleteCheck: Covered under the TurboTax accurate calculations and maximum refund guarantees.
  • TURBOTAX CD/DOWNLOAD SOFTWARE

  • TurboTax CD/Download products: Price includes tax preparation and printing of federal tax returns and free federal e-file of up to 5 federal tax returns. Additional fees apply for e-filing state returns. E-file fees do not apply to New York state returns. Savings and price comparison based on anticipated price increase expected in March. Prices subject to change without notice.
  • Fastest refund possible: Fastest tax refund with e-file and direct deposit; tax refund time frames will vary.
  • Pay for TurboTax out of your federal refund: $X.XX Refund Processing Service fee applies to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice. This benefit is available with TurboTax Federal products except TurboTax Business.
  • About our TurboTax Product Experts: Customer service and product support vary by time of year.
  • About our credentialed tax experts: Live tax advice via phone is included with Premier and Home & Business; fees apply for Basic and Deluxe customers. State tax advice is free. Service, experience levels, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice. Not available for TurboTax Business customers.
  • #1 best-selling tax software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2015 TurboTax products.
  • Data Import: Imports financial data from participating companies. Quicken and QuickBooks import not available with TurboTax installed on a Mac. Imports from Quicken (2015 and higher) and QuickBooks Desktop (2011 and higher); both Windows only. Quicken import not available for TurboTax Business. Quicken products provided by Quicken Inc., Quicken import subject to change.