United States

Individual - Taxes on personal income

Last reviewed - 06 February 2021

The United States levies tax on its citizens and residents on their worldwide income. Non-resident aliens are taxed on their US-source income and income effectively connected with a US trade or business (with certain exceptions).

Personal income tax rates

For individuals, the top income tax rate for 2021 is 37%, except for long-term capital gains and qualified dividends (discussed below).

P.L. 115-97 reduced both the individual tax rates and the number of tax brackets. P.L. 115-97 sunsets after 2025 many individual tax provisions, including the lower rates and revised brackets, in order to comply with US Senate budget rules.

2021 income tax rates and brackets

Single taxpayers (1)

Taxable income (USD)

Tax rate (%)

0 to 9,950

10

9,951 to 40,525

12

40,526 to 86,375

22

86,376 to 164,925

24

164,926 to 209,425

32

209,426 to 523,600

35

523,601+

37

Married taxpayers filing jointly (1, 2)

Taxable income (USD)

Tax rate (%)

0 to 19,900

10

19,901 to 81,050

12

81,051 to 172,750

22

172,751 to 329,850

24

329,851 to 418,850

32

418,851 to 628,300

35

628,301+

37

Head-of-household taxpayers (1, 2)

Taxable income (USD)

Tax rate (%)

0 to 14,200

10

14,201 to 54,200

12

54,201 to 86,350

22

86,351 to 164,900

24

164,901 to 209,400

32

209,401 to 523,600

35

523,601+

37

Married taxpayers filing separately (1)

Taxable income (USD)

Tax rate (%)

0 to 9,950

10

9,951 to 40,525

12

40,526 to 86,375

22

86,376 to 164,925

24

164,926 to 209,425

32

209,426 to 314,150

35

314,151+

37

2020 income tax rates and brackets

Single taxpayers (1)

Taxable income (USD) Tax rate (%)
0 to 9,875 10
9,876 to 40,125 12
40,126 to 85,525 22
85,526 to 163,300 24
163,301 to 207,350 32
207,351 to 518,400 35
518,401+ 37

Married taxpayers filing jointly (1, 2)

Taxable income (USD) Tax rate (%)
0 to 19,750 10
19,751 to 80,250 12
80,251 to 171,050 22
171,051 to 326,600 24
326,601 to 414,700 32
414,701 to 622,050 35
622,051+ 37

Head-of-household taxpayers (1, 2)

Taxable income (USD) Tax rate (%)
0 to 14,100 10
14,101 to 53,700 12
53,701 to 85,500 22
85,501 to 163,300 24
163,301 to 207,350 32
207,351 to 518,400 35
518,401+ 37

Married taxpayers filing separately (1)

Taxable income (USD) Tax rate (%)
0 to 9,875 10
9,876 to 40,125 12
40,126 to 85,525 22
85,526 to 163,300 24
163,301 to 207,350 32
207,351 to 311,025 35
311,026+ 37

Notes

  1. The maximum federal tax rate on capital gains is 20% for assets held for more than 12 months. The graduated rates of tax apply to capital gains from assets held for 12 months or less.
  2. Non-resident aliens may not take advantage of head of household status or joint return rates.

Alternative minimum tax (AMT)

In lieu of the tax computed using the above rates, the individual AMT may be imposed under a two-tier rate structure of 26% and 28%. For tax year 2020, the 28% tax rate applies to taxpayers with taxable incomes above USD 197,900 (USD 98,950 for married individuals filing separately). For tax year 2021, the 28% tax rate applies to taxpayers with taxable incomes above USD 199,900 (USD 99,950 for married individuals filing separately). 

Under P.L. 115-97, for tax years beginning after 31 December 2017, and before 1 January 2026, the AMT exemption amount is increased to USD 109,400 for married taxpayers filing a joint return (half this amount for married taxpayers filing a separate return), and USD 70,300 for all other taxpayers (other than estates and trusts). The phase-out thresholds increase to USD 1 million for married taxpayers filing a joint return and USD 500,000 for all other taxpayers (other than estates and trusts). These amounts are indexed for inflation. For 2020, the AMT exemption amount is USD 113,400 for married taxpayers filing a joint return (half this amount for married taxpayers filing a separate return) and USD 72,900 for all other taxpayers (other than estates and trusts), and the phase-out thresholds are USD 1,036,800 for married taxpayers filing a joint return and USD 518,400 for all other taxpayers (other than estates and trusts). 

For 2021, the AMT exemption amount is USD 114,600 for married taxpayers filing a joint return (half this amount for married taxpayers filing a separate return) and USD 73,600 for all other taxpayers (other than estates and trusts), and the phase-out thresholds are USD 1,047,200 for married taxpayers filing a joint return and USD 523,600 for all other taxpayers (other than estates and trusts).

The AMT is payable only to the extent it exceeds the regular net tax liability. The foreign tax credit is available for determining AMT liability to the extent of the foreign tax on the foreign-source AMT income (AMTI), subject to certain limitations.

AMTI generally is computed by starting with regular taxable income, adding tax preference deductions (claimed in the computation of regular taxable income), and making special adjustments to some of the tax items that were used to calculate taxable income. For example, the taxpayer must add back all state and local income taxes deducted in computing regular taxable income.

For non-resident aliens with a net gain from the sale of US real property interests, the AMT is calculated on the lesser of AMTI (before the exemption) or the net gain from the sale of the US real property interest.

Medicare Contribution Tax

For tax years beginning after 31 December 2012, a 3.8% 'unearned income Medicare contribution' tax applies on the lesser of (i) the taxpayer's net investment income for the tax year or (ii) the taxpayer's excess modified adjusted gross income over a threshold amount (generally, USD 200,000 for single taxpayers and heads of households; USD 250,000 for a married couple filing a joint return and surviving spouses; and USD 125,000 for a married individual filing a separate return). The tax, which is in addition to the regular income tax liability, applies to all individuals subject to US taxation other than non-resident aliens. Net investment income generally includes non-business income from interest, dividends, annuities, royalties, and rents; income from a trade or business of trading financial instruments or commodities; income from a passive-activity trade or business; and net gain from the disposition of non-business property.

State and local income taxes

Most states, and a number of municipal authorities, impose income taxes on individuals working or residing within their jurisdictions. Most of the 50 states impose some personal income tax, with the exception of Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming, which have no state income tax. New Hampshire and Tennessee (until 1 January 2021) tax only dividend and interest income. Few states impose an income tax at rates that exceed 10%.