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Federal Tax Brackets 2010

Published 10/7/09 (Modified 6/17/11)
By MoneyBlueBook

Federal Tax Brackets 2010

Death and taxes. You can try to fight them both tooth and nail, but at the end of it all, it's a losing proposition. Especially when it comes to taxes, the government is going to want its fair share cut of your salary and business profits one way or another, whether you like it or not. Rather than engage in tax evasion and possibly live the remaining years of your life on the run as a tax fugitive from the long arm of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), you might as well confront the issue of taxes head on. All we can do is try our best to understand how income taxes work and take reasonable steps to minimize their effects on our financial lives as much as possible.

One of the most introductory ways to plan for the effects of income taxes is to recognize how the various marginal rates are applied to the corresponding tax brackets. Because the United States does not yet currently engage in a flat tax system, our taxable incomes are broken down into different taxation ranges with specific taxation percentages assessed depending on where they fall along the tax bracket spectrum. Although our 2010 tax returns won't be filed until April 15, 2011, for planning purposes, it's always good to find out the new changes to the tax code as early as possible. Let's examine some of the upcoming tax rate changes that are being projected for 2010 and compare them to the previous year's 2009 tax brackets.

Projections Of New IRS Tax Rates Have Historically Been Extremely Accurate

Year after year, even before the official IRS income tax brackets are released, a select number of tax experts have gotten together and crunched a determinative number of officially released statistics by governmental agencies - to project and extrapolate the upcoming year's tax brackets. Year after year, the tax rate predictions released by these groups have yielded results in advance with near 100% accuracy. Such an income tax bracket projection ahead of time is possible because many of the major tax code numbers are pegged to officially released inflation statistics - including the standard deduction, the personal exemption, the actual income ranges of the tax brackets, and contributions limits for the investment retirement accounts (both the Traditional and Roth IRA account).

One of these tax prognosticating groups is the Tax Foundation, a Washington D.C. think tank which collects data and publishes research studies on federal and state tax policies. The other notable group operates under the auspices of the Wall Street Journal and is comprised of a merry band of private tax professionals and economists - namely William E. Massey, a senior tax analyst from the Tax and Accounting arm of Thomson Reuters; George Jones, a senior federal tax analyst from CCH; and James C. Young, an accounting professor from Northern Illinois University. For numerous years now, both the Tax Foundation and the Wall Street Journal group have consistently released to the public very accurate, albeit unofficial, early bird peaks at the following year's projected income tax brackets based on available financial data - well in advance of the official IRS releases. If you're eager to get a head start on tax year 2010, read on.

IRS Tax Rate Schedule Updates For Tax Year 2010

This year, citing a very sluggish economy and extraordinarily low inflation rates for 2009 to which upcoming 2010 tax rates shall be pegged to, the Tax Foundation and associated experts are predicting very little year to year change for the 2010 federal tax brackets. If there's anything good that came out of this global economic recession that has been plaguing us for the entirety of 2009 - it's that the combination of low gas prices, depressed consumer spending, and high jobless numbers with so many people filing for unemployment - have enabled inflation rates to stay quite low during the span of 2009 - at a mere 0.19%. Just compare that to the incredibly high inflation rate of 4.26% during the previous year of 2008 when gas prices were skyrocketing, and it's clear the recent sudden and precipitous drop in inflation has been extremely unprecedented.

As a result of low inflation, for the most part the 2010 tax bracket ranges will likely stay relatively unchanged. As noted by the tax pundits, for the very first time since the IRS started to index the official federal income tax rates to inflation during the mid 1980's, taxpayers will get virtually no significant benefit from inflation in 2010. As such - year 2010 tax brackets, standard deductions, personal exemptions, and even retirement account contribution limits will see very little (if any) alterations from prior year numbers.

I will update the table below to reflect the official IRS tax rates for 2010 if decidedly different numbers are ultimately released by the IRS. However, with tax bracket projections by the experts having enjoyed a near perfect accuracy rate for quite a few years now, I don't have any reason to doubt that the displayed figures below will ultimately wind up as official.

Federal Income Tax Brackets For 2010 - Based On Taxable Income Ranges

Tax Rate
Married Couples Filing Jointly
Most Single Filers
10% Not over $16,750 Not over $8,375
15% $16,750 – $68,000 $8,375 – $34,000
25% $68,000 – $137,300 $34,000 – $82,400
28% $137,300 – $209,250 $82,400 – $171,850
33% $209,250 – $373,650 $171,850 – $373,650
35% Over $373,650 Over $373,650

Beyond some slight numerical shuffling of the taxable income ranges, there will not be too many significant tax changes from 2009 into 2010. Here is a breakdown of the projected changes (if any) for 2010 as they compare to the prior year:

  • Personal Exemption: No change. For the very first time, the standard exemption for 2010 will not be going up and will stay unchanged at $3,650, the same as it was in 2009.
  • Standard Deduction: No change, except for Head Of Household filers. The standard deduction for married couples filing jointly will remain unchanged at $11,400. For those filing as single, the standard deduction will remain at $5,700 as well. However, Head of Household filers will see a slight increase by $50 - from $8,350 (year 2009) to $8,400 (year 2010).
  • Overall Tax Bracket Thresholds: Will increase across the board for all tax filing statuses, albeit at a significantly lower amount compared to past tax year increases.
  • Annual Gift Tax Exclusion Amount: No change. For tax year 2010, the current gift tax exclusion limit of $13,000 will stay the same. Often overlooked by most taxpayers, the gift tax stipulates that gift givers must pay a special tax on gift amounts that exceed a certain amount per year.
  • Traditional and Roth IRA Contribution Limits: No change. Despite the fact that IRA and Roth IRA contribution limits did not rise in 2009 in response to strong inflationary pressures in 2009, there will still be no corresponding change in the maximum contribution limits to individual retirement accounts for 2010. The standard IRA contribution limit for 2010 will remain unchanged at $5,000. The catch up contribution limit for those 50 or older will remain at $6,000 as well.

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