On a yearly basis the IRS adjusts more than 40 taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. provisions for inflationInflation is when the general price of goods and services increases across the economy, reducing the purchasing power of a currency and the value of certain assets. The same paycheck covers less goods, services, and bills. It is sometimes referred to as a “hidden tax,” as it leaves taxpayers less well-off due to higher costs and “bracket creep,” while increasing the government’s spending power. . This is done to prevent what is called “bracket creepBracket creep occurs when inflation pushes taxpayers into higher income tax brackets or reduces the value of credits, deductions, and exemptions. Bracket creep results in an increase in income taxes without an increase in real income. Many tax provisions—both at the federal and state level—are adjusted for inflation. ,” when people are pushed into higher income tax bracketA tax bracket is the range of incomes taxed at given rates, which typically differ depending on filing status. In a progressive individual or corporate income tax system, rates rise as income increases. There are seven federal individual income tax brackets; the federal corporate income tax system is flat. s or have reduced value from credits and deductions due to inflation, instead of any increase in real income.
The IRS used to use the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to calculate the past year’s inflation. However, with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the IRS will now use the Chained Consumer Price Index (C-CPI) to adjust income thresholds, deduction amounts, and credit values accordingly.
Income Tax Brackets and Rates
In 2019, the income limits for all tax brackets and all filers will be adjusted for inflation and will be as follows (Tables 1). The top marginal income tax rate of 37 percent will hit taxpayers with taxable incomeTaxable income is the amount of income subject to tax, after deductions and exemptions. For both individuals and corporations, taxable income differs from—and is less than—gross income. of $510,300 and higher for single filers and $612,350 and higher for married couples filing jointly.
|Rate||For Unmarried Individuals, Taxable Income Over||For Married Individuals Filing Joint Returns, Taxable Income Over||For Heads of Households, Taxable Income Over|
|10%||Up to $9,700||Up to $19,400||Up to $9,700|
|12%||$9,701 to $39,475||$19,401 to $78,950||$13,851 to $52,850|
|22%||$39,476 to $84,200||$78,951 to $168,400||$52,851 to $84,200|
|24%||$84,201 to $160,725||$168,401 to $321,450||$84,201 to $160,700|
|32%||$$160,726 to $204,100||$321,451 to $408,200||$160,701 to $204,100|
|35%||$204,101 to $510,300||$408,201 to $612,350||$204,101 to $510,300|
|37%||Over $510,300||Over $612,350||Over $510,300|
Stay informed on the tax policies impacting you.
Subscribe to get insights from our trusted experts delivered straight to your inbox.Subscribe
Standard DeductionThe standard deduction reduces a taxpayer’s taxable income by a set amount determined by the government. It was nearly doubled for all classes of filers by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as an incentive for taxpayers not to itemize deductions when filing their federal income taxes. and Personal Exemption
The standard deduction for single filers will increase by $200 and by $400 for married couples filing jointly (Table 2).
The personal exemption for 2019 remains eliminated.
|Filing Status||Deduction Amount|
|Married Filing Jointly||$24,400|
|Head of Household||$18,350|
Alternative Minimum Tax
The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) is a separate tax system that requires some taxpayers to calculate their tax liability twice—first, under ordinary income tax rules, then under the AMT—and pay whichever amount is highest. The AMT has fewer preferences and different exemptions and rates than the ordinary system. was created in the 1960s to prevent high-income taxpayers from avoiding the individual income taxAn individual income tax (or personal income tax) is levied on the wages, salaries, investments, or other forms of income an individual or household earns. The U.S. imposes a progressive income tax where rates increase with income. The Federal Income Tax was established in 1913 with the ratification of the 16th Amendment. Though barely 100 years old, individual income taxes are the largest source of tax revenue in the U.S. . This parallel tax income system requires high-income taxpayers to calculate their tax bill twice: once under the ordinary income tax system and again under the AMT. The taxpayer then needs to pay the higher of the two.
The AMT uses an alternative definition of taxable income called Alternative Minimum Taxable Income (AMTI). To prevent low- and middle-income taxpayers from being subject to the AMT, taxpayers are allowed to exempt a significant amount of their income from AMTI. However, this exemption phases out for high-income taxpayers. The AMT is levied at two rates: 26 percent and 28 percent.
The AMT exemption amount for 2019 is $71,700 for singles and $111,700 for married couples filing jointly (Table 3).
|Filing Status||Exemption Amount|
|Married Filing Jointly||$111,700|
In 2019, the 28 percent AMT rate applies to excess AMTI of $194,800 for all taxpayers ($97,400 for married couples filing separate returns).
AMT exemptions phase out at 25 cents per dollar earned once taxpayer AMTI hits a certain threshold. In 2019, the exemption will start phasing out at $510,300 in AMTI for single filers and $1,020,600 for married taxpayers filing jointly (Table 4).
|Married Filing Jointly||$1,020,600|
Earned Income Tax CreditA tax credit is a provision that reduces a taxpayer’s final tax bill, dollar-for-dollar. A tax credit differs from deductions and exemptions, which reduce taxable income, rather than the taxpayer’s tax bill directly.
The maximum Earned Income Tax Credit in 2019 for single and joint filers is $529, if the filer has no children (Table 5). The maximum credit is $3,526 for one child, $5,828 for two children, and $6,557 for three or more children. All these are relatively small increases from 2018.
|Filing Status||No Children||One Child||Two Children||Three or More Children|
|Single or Head of Household||Income at Max Credit||$6,920||$10,370||$14,570||$14,570|
|Phaseout Ends (Credit Equals Zero)||$15,570||$41,094||$46,703||$50,162|
|Married Filing Jointly||Income at Max Credit||$6,920||$10,370||$14,570||$14,570|
|Phaseout Ends (Credit Equals Zero)||$21,370||$46,884||$52,493||$55,952|
Child Tax Credit
The child tax credit totals at $2,000 per qualifying child and is not adjusted for inflation. However, the refundable portion of the Child Tax Credit, also known as the Additional Child Tax Credit, is adjusted for inflation. The Additional Child Tax Credit will remain at $1,400 for 2019.
Long-term capital gains are taxed using different brackets and rates than ordinary income.
|For Unmarried Individuals, Taxable Capital Gains Over||For Married Individuals Filing Joint Returns, Taxable Capital Gains Over||For Heads of Households, Taxable Capital Gains Over|
Qualified Business Income Deduction (Sec. 199A)
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act includes a 20 percent deduction for pass-through businessA pass-through business is a sole proprietorship, partnership, or S corporation that is not subject to the corporate income tax; instead, this business reports its income on the individual income tax returns of the owners and is taxed at individual income tax rates. es against up to $160,700 of qualified business income for unmarried taxpayers and $321,400 for married taxpayers (Table 7).
|Married Filing Jointly||$321,400|
Annual Exclusion for Gifts
In 2019, the first $15,000 of gifts to any person are excluded from tax. The exclusion is increased to $155,000 for gifts to spouses.
Confused? Boost Your Tax Knowledge with TaxEDU
Tax policy can be complex. Thankfully our resources for understanding them aren’t.Learn more
 Robert Cage, John Greenlees, and Patrick Jackman, “Introducing the Chained Consumer Price Index,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2003, https://www.bls.gov/cpi/additional-resources/chained-cpi-introduction.pdf.Share