2016 Tax Brackets

October 14, 2015

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Introduction

Every year, the IRS adjusts more than 40 tax provisions for inflation. This is done to prevent what is called “bracket creep.” This is the phenomenon by which people are pushed into higher income tax brackets or have reduced value from credits or deductions due to inflation, instead of any increase in real income.

The IRS uses the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to calculate the past year’s inflation and adjusts income thresholds, deduction amounts, and credit values accordingly. Rather than directly adjusting last year’s values for annual inflation, each provision is adjusted from a specified base year. For more information, see Methodology, below.

Estimated Income Tax Brackets and Rates

In 2016, the income limits for all brackets and all filers will be adjusted for inflation and will be as follows (Table 1). The top marginal income tax rate of 39.6 percent will hit taxpayers with taxable income of $415,050 and higher for single filers and $466,950 and higher for married filers.

Table 1. 2016 Taxable Income Brackets and Rates (Estimate)

Rate

Single Filers

Married Joint Filers

Head of Household Filers

10%

$0 to $9,275

$0 to $18,550

$0 to $13,250

15%

$9,275 to $37,650

$18,550 to $75,300

$13,250 to $50,400

25%

$37,650 to $91,150

$75,300 to $151,900

$50,400 to $130,150

28%

$91,150 to $190,150

$151,900 to $231,450

$130,150 to $210,800

33%

$190,150 to $413,350

$231,450 to $413,350

$210,800 to $413,350

35%

$413,350 to $415,050

$413,350 to $466,950

$413,350 to $441,000

39.6%

$415,050+

$466,950+

$441,000+

Source: Author’s Calculations.

Standard Deduction and Personal Exemption

The standard deduction for single and married couples filing jointly will not increase in 2016 (Table 2). For taxpayers filing as head of household, it will increase by $50 from $9,250 to $9,300.

The personal exemption for 2016 will be $4,050.

Table 2. 2016 Standard Deduction and Personal Exemption (Estimate)

Filing Status

Deduction Amount

Single

 $6,300.00

Married Filing Jointly

 $12,600.00

Head of Household

 $9,300.00

Personal Exemption

 $4,050.00

Source: Author’s Calculations.

PEP and Pease

PEP and Pease are two provisions in the tax code that increase taxable income for high-income earners. PEP is the phase-out of the personal exemption and Pease (named after former Senator Donald Pease) reduces the value of most itemized deductions once a taxpayer’s adjusted gross income reaches a certain amount.

The income threshold for both PEP and Pease will be $259,400 for single filers and $311,300 for married filers (Tables 3 and 4). PEP will end at $381,900 for singles and $433,800 for married couples filing jointly, meaning these taxpayers will no longer have a personal exemption.

Table 3. 2016 Pease Limitations on Itemized Deductions (Estimate)

Filing Status

Income

Single

 $259,400.00

Married Filing Jointly

 $311,300.00

Head of Household

 $285,350.00

Source: Author’s Calculations.

Table 4. 2016 Personal Exemption Phase-Out (Estimate)

Filing Status

Phase-Out Begin

Phase-Out Complete

Single

 $259,400.00

 $381,900.00

Married Filing Jointly

 $311,300.00

 $433,800.00

Head of Household

 $285,350.00

 $407,850.00

Source: Author’s Calculations.

Alternative Minimum Tax

Since its creation in the 1960s, the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) has not been adjusted for inflation. Thus, Congress was forced to “patch” the AMT by raising the exemption amount to prevent middle class taxpayers from being hit by the tax as a result of inflation.

On January 2, 2013, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 indexed the income thresholds to inflation, preventing the necessity for an annual “patch.”

The AMT exemption amount for 2016 is $53,900 for singles and $83,800 for married couples filing jointly (Table 5).

Table 5. 2016 Alternative Minimum Tax Exemptions (Estimate)

Filing Status

Exemption Amount

Single

 $            53,900.00

Married Filing Jointly

 $            83,800.00

Married Filing Separately

 $            41,900.00

Source: Author’s Calculations.

Earned Income Tax Credit

2016’s maximum Earned Income Tax Credit for singles, heads of households, and joint filers is $506, if the filer has no children (Table 6). The credit is $3,373 for one child, $5,572 for two children, and $6,268 for three or more children.

Table 6. 2016 Earned Income Tax Credit Parameters (Estimate)

Filing Status

 

No Children

One Child

Two Children

Three or More Children

Single or Head of Household

Income at Max Credit

$6,610

$9,920

$13,930

$13,930

 

Maximum Credit

$506

$3,373

$5,572

$6,268

 

Phase out Begins

$8,270

$18,190

$18,190

$18,190

 

Phase out Ends (Credit Equals Zero)

$14,880

$39,296

$44,648

$47,955

           

Married Filing Jointly

Income at Max Credit

$6,610

$9,920

$13,930

$13,930

 

Maximum Credit

$506

$3,373

$5,572

$6,268

 

Phase out Begins

$13,810

$23,730

$23,730

$23,730

 

Phase out Ends (Credit Equals Zero)

$20,420

$44,836

$50,188

$53,495

Source: Author’s Calculations.

Methodology

Each tax parameter is adjusted for inflation by taking its base value (from legislation) and multiplying it by the current fiscal year’s average Consumer Price Index (CPI) and then dividing that by the base fiscal year’s CPI.

Each parameter is rounded to either the nearest $10, $25, or $100 (depending on the specified rounding method in the legislation, see Table 7).

For example, the base value for the top of the 10 percent tax bracket for singles is $7,000. This number is multiplied by the average CPI for fiscal year 2016 (236.749) and then divided by the average CPI for fiscal year 2002 (178.675): $7,000 x (236.749/178.674) = $9,275.18. This value is then rounded down to the nearest $25 to yield 2016’s 10 percent tax bracket of $9,275.

Table 7. Tax Parameters, Base Years, and Base Values

Base Year

Parameter

Base Value (Single; HoH; Married)

Rounding Convention

1987

Standard Deduction

$3,000; $4,400; $6,000

Down to nearest $50

1988

Personal Exemption

$2,000

Down to nearest $50

1992

15% Bracket

$22,100; $29,600; $44,200

Down to nearest $50

 

25% Bracket

$53,500; $76,400; $89,150

Down to nearest $50

1993

28% Bracket

$115,000; $127,500; $140,000

Down to nearest $50

 

33% Bracket

$250,000; $250,000; $250,000

Down to nearest $50

1995

EITC

See Table 8, below

Nearest $10, for thresholds. Nearest $1, for credit amount.

2002

10% Bracket

$7,000; $10,000; $14,000

Down to nearest $25

2008

EITC Marriage Penalty Fix

$5,000

Nearest $10

2011

AMT

$50,600, N/A, $78,750

Nearest $100

2012

35% Bracket

$400,000; $425,000; $450,000

Down to nearest $50

 

PEP

$250,000; $275,000; $300,000

Down to nearest $50

 

Pease

$250,000; $275,000; $300,000

Down to nearest $50

Note: Bracket values are the tops of each bracket.

 Table 8. EITC Base Parameters

 

No Children

One Child

Two Children

Three or More Children

Credit Rate

7.65%

34%

40%

40%

Phase-Out Rate

7.65%

15.98%

21.06%

21.06%

Income, Max Credit

$4,220

$6,330

$8,890

$8,890

Income, Phase-Out

$5,280

$11,610

$11,610

$11,610

 

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