What Are the Different Types of Taxes?

What Are the Different Types of Taxes?

There are a variety of taxes you may have to pay, such as Income tax, capital gains tax, sales tax, and property tax. Whether you’re new to the workforce or a seasoned retiree, taxes can be complicated to understand and to pay.

This guide can help. Here, you’ll learn more about what taxes are, the different types of taxes to know about, and helpful tax filing ideas. Read on to raise your tax I.Q.

What Are Taxes?

At a high level, taxes are involuntary fees imposed on individuals or corporations by a government entity. The collected fees are used to fund a range of government activities, including but not limited to schools, road maintenance, health programs, and defense measures.

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Different Types of Taxes to Know

Here’s a detailed look at what are many of the different types of taxes that can be levied and the ways in which they’re typically calculated and imposed.

Income Tax

The federal government collects income tax from people and businesses, based upon the amount of money that was earned during a particular year. There can also be other income taxes levied, such as state or local ones. Specifics of how to calculate this type of tax can change as tax laws do.

The amount of income tax owed will depend upon the person’s tax bracket; it will typically go up as a person’s income does. That’s because the U.S. has a progressive tax system for federal income tax, meaning individuals who earn more are taxed more.

If you’re wondering “What tax bracket am I in?” know that there are currently seven different federal tax brackets. The amount owed will also depend on filing categories like single; head of household; married, filing jointly; and married, filing separately.

Deductions and credits can help to lower the amount of income tax owed. And if a federal or state government charges you more than you actually owed, you’ll receive a tax refund. It can be helpful to check the IRS website or online tax help centers to learn more about income tax.

Property Tax

Property taxes are charged by local governments and are one of the costs associated with owning a home.

The amount owed varies by location and is calculated as a percentage of a property’s value. The funds typically help to fund the local government, as well as public schools, libraries, public works, parks, and so forth.

Property taxes are considered to be an ad valorem tax, which means they are based on the assessed value of the property.

Payroll Tax

Employers withhold a percentage of money from employees’ pay and then forward those funds to the government. The amount being withheld will vary, based on a particular employee’s wages, with federal payroll taxes being used to fund Medicare and Social Security.

There are limits on the portion of income that would be taxed. For example, in 2024, a person’s income that exceeds $168,600 is not subject to a common payroll deduction, Social Security tax.

Because this tax is applied uniformly, rather than based on income throughout the system, payroll taxes are considered to be a regressive tax.

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Inheritance/Estate Tax

These are actually two different types of taxes.

•   The first — the inheritance tax — can apply in certain states when someone inherits money or property from a deceased person’s estate. The beneficiary would be responsible for paying this tax if they live in one of several different states where this tax exists and the inheritance is large enough.

•   The federal government does not have an inheritance tax. Instead, there is a federal estate tax that is calculated on the deceased person’s money and property. It’s typically paid out from the assets of the deceased before anything is distributed to their beneficiaries.

There can be exemptions to these taxes and, in general, people who inherit from someone they aren’t related to can anticipate higher rates of tax.

Regressive, Progressive, and Proportional Taxes

These are the three main categories of tax structures in the U.S. (two of which have already been mentioned above). Here are definitions that include how they impact people with varying levels of income.

What’s a Regressive Tax?

Because a regressive tax is uniformly applied, regardless of income, it takes a bigger percentage from people who earn less and a smaller percentage from people who earn more.

As a high-level example, a $500 tax would be 1% of someone’s income if they earned $50,000; it would only be half of one percent if someone earned $100,000, and so on. Examples of regressive taxes include state sales taxes and user fees.

What’s a Progressive Tax?

A progressive tax works differently, with people who are earning more money having a higher rate of taxation. In other words, this tax (such as an income tax) is based on income.

This system is designed to allow people who have a lower income to have enough money for cost of living expenses.

What’s Proportional Tax?

A proportional tax is another way of saying “flat tax.” No matter what someone’s income might be, they would pay the same proportion. This is a form of a regressive tax and proportional taxes are more common at the state level and less common at the federal level.

Capital Gains Tax

Next up, take a closer look at the capital gains tax that an investor may be responsible for paying when having stocks in an investment portfolio. This can happen, for example, if they sell a stock that has appreciated in value over the purchase price.

The difference in the increased value from purchase to sale is called “capital gains” and, typically, there would be a capital gains tax levied.

An exception can be when an investor sells increased-in-value stocks through a tax-deferred retirement investment inside of the account. Meanwhile, dividends are taxed as income, not as capital gains.

It’s also important for investors to know the difference between short-term and long-term capital gains taxes. In the U.S. tax code, short-term is one year or less, while long-term is anything longer. For tax year 2023, the federal tax rate on gains made by short-term investments are taxed as ordinary income. For long-term investment gains, the rates will be between 0% and 20%, based on filing status and taxable income.

Recommended: Capital Gains Tax Guide

Ideas For Tax-Efficient Investing

Ideas for tax-efficient investing can include to select certain investment vehicles, such as:

•   Exchange-traded funds (ETFs): These are baskets of securities that trade like a stock. They can be tax-efficient because they typically track an underlying index, meaning that while they allow investors to have broad exposure, individual securities are potentially bought and sold less frequently, creating fewer events that will likely result in capital gains taxes.

•   Index mutual funds: These tend to be more tax efficient than actively managed funds for reasons similar to ETFs.

•   Treasury bonds: There are no state income taxes levied on earned interest.

•   Municipal bonds: Interest, in general, is exempted from federal taxes; if the investor lives within the municipality where these local government bonds are issued, they can typically be exempt from state and local taxes, as well.

VAT Consumption Tax

In the U.S., taxpayers are charged a regressive form of tax, a sales tax, on many items that are purchased. In Europe, the system works differently. A VAT tax is a form of consumption tax that’s due upon a purchase, calculated on the difference between the sales price and what it cost to create that product or service. In other words, it’s based on the item’s added value.

Here’s one big difference between a sales tax and a VAT tax:

•   Sales tax is charged at the final part of the sales transaction.

•   VAT, on the other hand, is calculated throughout each supply chain step and then built into the final purchase price.

This leads to another difference. Sales taxes are added onto the purchase price that’s listed; VAT contains those fees within the price and so nothing extra is added onto the price tag that a buyer would see.

Sales Tax

Ka-ching! You are probably used to sales tax being added to many of your purchases. It’s a method that governments use to collect revenue from citizens, and in America, it can vary by state and local area.

Funds collected via sales tax are frequently used for local and state budget items. These might include school, road, and fire department expenses.

Excise Tax

An excise tax is one that is applied to a specific item or activity. Some common examples are the taxes added to alcoholic beverages, amusement/betting pursuits, cigarettes (yes, the “sin taxes,” as they are sometimes called, gasoline, and insurance premiums.

These taxes are primarily paid by businesses but are sometimes passed along to consumers, who may or may not be aware that these taxes can be rolled into retail prices. Some excise taxes, however, are paid directly by consumers, such as property taxes and certain taxes on retirement accounts.

Luxury Tax

Luxury tax is just what it sounds like: tax on purchases that aren’t necessities but are pricey purchases. It can be paid by a business and possibly passed along to the consumer. Typical examples of items that are subject to a luxury tax include expensive boats, airplanes, cars, and jewelry.

The revenue that’s raised by these taxes may fund an array of government programs designed to benefit U.S. citizens.

Corporate Tax

Here’s another tax with a name that tells the story. Corporate tax is, quite simply, a tax on a corporation’s profits, or taxable income. This is based on a business’ revenue once a variety of expenses are subtracted, such as administrative expenses, the cost of any goods sold, marketing and selling costs, research and development expenses, and other related and operating costs.

Corporate taxes are specific to each country, with some having higher rates than others, and there are a variety of ways to lower them via loopholes, subsidies, and deductions.

Tariffs

Tariffs represent a protectionist tool that governments may use. That is, they are taxes levied on imported goods at the border. The idea is typically that this will help boost the cost of imports and hopefully nudge consumers to buy items made on home soil.

Surtax

A surtax is an additional tax levied by the government in addition to other taxes. It is typically paid by consumers when the government needs to raise funds for a specific program. For instance, a 10% surtax was levied on individual and corporate income by the Johnson administration in 1968. The funds were collected to help fund the war effort in Vietnam.

Tax Filing Ideas

Now that you know what are the different types of taxes, consider the event that makes many of us contemplate this topic: filing taxes. It’s an annual ritual that may trigger anxiety for many, but if you spend a little time educating yourself about the process, it’s not so scary. Here, a few ways to help make preparing for tax season easier:

•   Consider how you’d like to file. Choose the method that best suits your needs and comfort level. You might want to work with a professional tax preparer to assist you, or perhaps use tax software to help you through the process. (Some taxpayers will qualify for the IRS Free File service, which is a free guided software tool.)

Another option is to fill out either the IRS form 1040 or 1040-SR by hand and mail it in, but given how this can open you up to human error and handwriting or typing mistakes, it’s not recommended.

•   Gather all your paperwork. Being organized can be half the battle here. Develop a system that works for you (you might want to use a tax-preparation checklist) to collect such items as:

◦   Your W-2s and/or 1099 forms reflecting your income

◦   Proof of any mortgage interest paid or property taxes

◦   Retirement account contributions

◦   Interest earned on investments or money held in bank accounts

◦   State and local taxes paid

◦   Donations to charities

◦   Educational expenses

◦   Medical bills that were not reimbursed

•   Even if you are lower-income and don’t need to file, consider doing so. It may be to your financial benefit. For instance, you might qualify for certain tax breaks, such as the earned income tax credit (EITC) or, if you’re a parent, the child credit.

•   Whether you owe money or are getting a refund, know how to settle your account with the IRS. If you’ll be receiving a tax refund, you may want to request that it be sent via direct deposit to make the process as seamless and speedy as possible. If, on the other hand, you owe money, there are an array of ways to send funds, including payment plans. Do a little research to see what suits you best.

By getting ahead of tax filing deadlines in these ways, you can likely make this annual ritual a little less intimidating and time-consuming.

Recommended: Guide to Filing Taxes for the First Time

The Takeaway

Understanding the different kinds of taxes can help you boost your financial literacy and your ability to budget well. You’ll know a bit more about why you pay federal and any state and local taxes and also be aware of other charges like luxury taxes and sales taxes.

Here’s another way to help your finances along: by partnering with a bank that puts you first.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.

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FAQ

What are the most common taxes people use?

The most common taxes that Americans pay are income tax on their earnings, sales tax on purchases, and property tax on their homes.

How many categories of taxes are there?

There are easily more than a dozen kinds of taxes levied in the U.S. Which ones you are liable for will depend on a variety of factors, such as whether you are an individual or represent a business, whether you purchase luxury items, and so forth.

Will I use all of these forms of taxes?

Which forms of taxes you will be liable for will likely depend upon the specifics of your situation. For example, among the most common taxes are income, property, and sales taxes, but if you rent rather than own your home, you won’t owe property taxes. If you purchase a boat, you might pay a luxury tax; if you like to frequent casinos, you could be paying excise taxes.


SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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What Tax Bracket Am I In?

There are seven federal tax brackets for the 2023 tax year, ranging from 10% to 37%. As a general rule, the more you earn, the higher your tax rate. And the higher your income and tax rate, the more money you will probably owe the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) in taxes.

How much you’ll pay in federal tax on your 2023 income (due in 2024) will depend on which bracket your income falls in, as well as your tax-filing status and other factors, such as deductions.

When people look at tax charts, however, they often assume that having an income in a particular tax bracket (such as 22%) means that all of your income is taxed at that rate. Actually, tax brackets are “marginal.” This term means that only the part of your income within each range is taxed at the corresponding tax rate.

Read on to learn more about this at times complicated topic, including answers to these questions:

•   Which tax bracket am I in?

•   How can I use the 2023 tax chart to figure out how much I will owe?

•   What are some tips to lower my tax bracket?

What Are Tax Brackets?

A tax bracket determines the range of incomes upon which a certain income tax rate is applied. America’s federal government uses a progressive tax system: Filers with lower incomes pay lower tax rates, and those with higher incomes pay higher tax rates.

There are currently seven tax brackets in the US which range from 10% to 37%, as briefly noted above. However, not all of your income will necessarily be taxed at a single rate. Even if you know the answer to “What is my federal tax bracket?” you are likely to pay multiple rates. Read on to learn more about how exactly this works.

Also note that the income levels have been adjusted in 2023 vs. 2022 to take into account the impact of inflation and other factors. So even if you made the same amount in 2023 as in 2022, you are not necessarily in the same bracket again. It’s important to note these changes.

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How Do Tax Brackets Work?

Whether you’re filing taxes for the first time or have been doing so for decades, you may wonder how you know what tax bracket you’re in.

While there are seven basic tax brackets, your income doesn’t necessarily get grouped into one level in which you pay that rate on all of your income. This only happens if your total income is in the lowest possible tax bracket.

Otherwise, the tax system is also graduated in such a way so that taxpayers don’t pay the same rate on every dollar earned. Instead, you pay higher rates on each dollar that exceeds a certain threshold.

•   For example, if your taxable income is $50,000 for 2023, not all of it is taxed at the 22% rate that includes incomes from $44,726 to $95,375 for single filers. Some of your income will be taxed at the lower tax brackets, 10% and 12%. Below, you’ll find a specific example of how this works.

In addition to knowing which tax bracket you’re in, it’s important to be aware of standard deductions that are applied when calculating taxes. (This is separate from common payroll deductions, such as health insurance.) The standard deduction will lower your taxes owed.

For income earned in 2023, the standard deduction is $13,850 for unmarried people and for those who are married, filing separately; $27,700 for those married, filing jointly; $20,800 for heads of household. (There may be tax benefits to marriage beyond your bracket, by the way.)

There are additional deductions that may lower your taxable income, too, such as earmarking certain funds for retirement.

In addition to federal taxes, filers may also need to pay state income tax. The rate you will pay for state tax will depend on the state you live in. Some states also have brackets and a progressive rate. You may also need to pay local/city taxes.

Example of Tax Brackets

According to the 2023 tax brackets (the ones you’ll use when you file in 2024), an unmarried person earning $50,000 would pay:

10% on the first $11,000, or $1,100.00
12% on the next $33,725 ($44,725 – $11,000 = $33,725), or $4,047.00
22% on the next $5,275 ($50,000 – $44,775 = $5,275), or $1,160.50
Total federal tax due would be $1,100.00 + $4,047.00 + $1,160.50, or $6,307.50

This doesn’t take into account any deductions. Many Americans take the standard deduction (rather than itemize their deductions).

2023 Tax Brackets

Below are the tax rates for the 2024 filing season. Dollar amounts represent taxable income earned in 2023. Your taxable income is what you get when you take all of the money you’ve earned and subtract all of the tax deductions you’re eligible for.

Not sure of your filing status? This interactive IRS quiz can help you determine the correct status. If you qualify for more than one, it tells you which one will result in the lowest tax bill.

2023 Tax Brackets For Unmarried People

Tax rate of:

•   10% for people earning $0 to $11,000

•   12% for people earning $11,001 to $44,775

•   22% for people earning $44,726 to $95,375

•   24% for people earning $95,376 to $182,100

•   32% for people earning $182,101 to $231,250

•   35% for people earning $231,251 to $578,125

•   37% for people earning $578,126 or more

2023 Tax Brackets For Married People Who Are Filing Jointly

Tax rate of:

•   10% for people earning $0 to $22,000

•   12% for people earning $22,001 to $89,450

•   22% for people earning $89,451 to $190,750

•   24% for people earning $190,751 to $364,200

•   32% for people earning $364,201 to $462,500

•   35% for people earning $462,501 to $693,750

•   37% for people earning $693,751 or more

2023 Tax Brackets For Married People Who Are Filing Separately

Tax rate of:

•   10% for people earning $0 to $11,000

•   12% for people earning $11,001 to $44,725

•   22% for people earning $44,726 to $95,375

•   24% for people earning $95,376 to $182,100

•   32% for people earning $182,101 to $231,250

•   35% for people earning $231,251 to $346,875

•   37% for people earning $346,876 or more

2023 Tax Brackets For Heads of Household

Tax rate of:

•   10% for people earning $0 to $15,700

•   12% for people earning $15,701 to $59,850

•   22% for people earning $59,851 to $95,350

•   24% for people earning $95,351 to $182,100

•   32% for people earning $182,101 to $231,250

•   35% for people earning $231,251 to $578,100

•   37% for people earning $578,101 or more

Recommended: How Income Tax Withholding Works

Lowering Your 2023 Tax Bracket

You may be able to lower your income into another bracket (especially if your taxable income falls right on the cut-off points between two brackets) by taking tax deductions.

•   Tax deductions lower how much of your income is subject to taxes. Generally, deductions lower your taxable income by the percentage of your highest federal income tax bracket. So if you fall into the 22% tax bracket, a $1,000 deduction would save you $220.

•   Tax credits, such as the earned income tax credit, or child tax credit, can also reduce how you pay Uncle Sam but not by putting you in a lower tax bracket.

Tax credits reduce the amount of tax you owe, giving you a dollar-for-dollar reduction of your tax liability. A tax credit valued at $1,000, for instance, lowers your total tax bill by $1,000.

Many people choose to take the standard deduction, but a tax expert can help you figure out if you’d be better off itemizing deductions, such as your mortgage interest, medical expenses, and state and local taxes.

Whether you take the standard deduction or itemize, here are some additional ways you may be able to lower your tax bracket as you think ahead and prepare for tax season:

•   Delaying income. For example, if you freelance, you might consider waiting to bill for services performed near the end of the 2023 until early in 2024.

•   Making contributions to certain tax-advantaged accounts, such as health savings accounts and retirement funds, keeping in mind that there are annual contribution limits.

•   Deducting some of your student loan interest. Depending on your income, you may be able to deduct up to $2,500 in student loan interest paid in 2023.

It can be a good idea to work with a CPA (certified public accountant) or tax advisor to see if you qualify for these and other ways to lower your tax bracket.

Recommended: 10 Personal Finance Basics

The Takeaway

The government decides how much tax you owe by dividing your taxable income into seven chunks, also known as federal tax brackets, and each chunk gets taxed at the corresponding tax rate, from 10% to 37%.

The benefit of a progressive tax system is that no matter which bracket you’re in, you won’t pay that tax rate on your entire income. If you think you might get hit with a sizable tax bill, you may want to look into changing your paycheck withholdings or, if you’re a freelancer, making quarterly estimated tax payments.

You may also want to start putting some “tax money” aside each month, so you won’t have to scramble to pay any taxes owed when you file in April. An interest-bearing checking and savings account could be a good option for this purpose.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.


Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall. Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

Has anything changed from 2022 to 2023 tax brackets?

Yes, the IRS has adjusted tax brackets for tax year 2023 to reflect the impact of inflation and other factors.

What is a marginal tax rate?

The marginal tax rate refers to the highest tax bracket that you possibly fall into. However, your effective tax rate averages the taxes you owe on all of your income earned. For this reason, your effective tax rate will likely be lower than your marginal rate.

How do deductions affect your tax bracket?

Deductions lower your taxable income. The more deductions that are taken, the more of your earnings are taxed at reduced brackets.


SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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Taxable vs Non-Taxable Income

Taxable vs. Non-Taxable Income: What’s the Difference?

Nothing is as certain as tax season. Like it or not, it comes every year, and taxpayers need to report and pay their dues on all taxable income. But did you know that some income is non-taxable?

That’s right: In some rare cases, Uncle Sam won’t be asking for his fair share. But you may wonder how to know the difference and how you can correctly file your taxes. This guide can help you understand this important distinction.

Read on to learn:

•   What is taxable income vs. non-taxable income?

•   What are some examples of taxable income?

•   What are some examples of non-taxable income?

Taxable and Non-Taxable Income Explained

The difference between taxable and non-taxable income is pretty straightforward:

•   Taxable income is subject to taxes. That means you must report it to the IRS on your tax return and pay taxes on it based on your filing status and tax bracket. And remember: Income isn’t just money that you earn. Income can come in the form of money, property, or services rendered.

•   Non-taxable income is not subject to taxes. Though you may have pocketed money throughout the year (perhaps child support), you do not need to pay taxes on it. However, you may still need to report it on your tax return.

Understanding the differences between these two terms is easy. It’s understanding just what is considered taxable income vs. non-taxable income that can be more challenging without the help of an accountant.

Understanding your taxes is an important aspect of managing your finances. Incorrectly accounting for income could leave you owing the government money plus penalties, so read on to learn more.

💡 Quick Tip: If your checking account doesn’t offer decent rates, why not apply for an online checking account with SoFi to earn 0.50% APY. That’s 7x the national checking account average.

What Is Taxable Income?

Taxable income is money, property, or services that you received that the IRS requires you to pay taxes on. Common types of taxable income include wages, self-employment earnings, and stock dividends.

Examples of Taxable Income

Wages are an easy example of taxable income, but the list of what kind of earnings are taxed is much more extensive. Below are some examples of taxable income to keep in mind when filing, but note that this list is not exhaustive, meaning you should research each type of income you earned throughout the year to determine if you owe taxes.

•   Salary, wages, tips, bonuses, and self-employment income: First and foremost, the income you make for doing your job counts as taxable income. That includes both salaried and hourly workers who receive a W-2. If you earn tips — even cash tips — you’ve got to report those, too. Bonuses are also taxable, as is any income you make as a self-employed individual.

Self-employed taxpayers who receive 1099 forms have to pay more in taxes than salaried employees. That’s because they also owe self-employment taxes to cover items like Social Security and Medicare contributions.

•   Investment income: If you rent out property (like a house or a vehicle), you must report that income to the IRS and pay taxes on it. If you have investments that pay interest and unqualified dividends, those are taxable as well.

•   Fringe benefits: The IRS is careful to spell out that income isn’t just money you earn. For example, if your employer pays for an off-site gym membership or sends you a Christmas gift every year, these are considered fringe benefits — and you’ve got to report and pay taxes on the monetary value of those benefits. Not all fringe benefits are taxable; if you’re unsure whether you need to pay taxes on something, you can check out the IRS’s resource on fringe benefits or work with an accountant.

•   Some retirement income: If you contributed to a traditional IRA or traditional 401(k) plan, those contributions were pre-tax. When you start withdrawing those funds, you unfortunately have to pay taxes on that money.

•   Income from the sale of assets: When you sell something — whether it’s your car, a stock, or even an old couch — you generally have to report the capital gain from that sale. There are exceptions, including the big tax break you may receive when you sell your house (more on that below).

•   Royalties: If you earn royalties from copyrights, patents, or oil, gas, and mineral properties, you’ll have to pay taxes on those royalties.

•   Alimony, sometimes: Tax law on alimony payments has changed. If you got a divorce before 2019 and have not altered the agreement to expressly state that alimony isn’t considered income, then you’ll pay taxes on it.

•   Unemployment compensation: Yes, even if you’re out of work and receiving unemployment benefits, you’ve got to pay taxes.

Remember, this list is not all-encompassing. The IRS has guidance on everything from cash for babysitting to bartering to lottery winnings. If you’re unsure what income to report, you may benefit from working with an accountant. As you prepare for tax season, these professionals can help you sort out what is taxable vs. non-taxable income so you can file correctly.

Ready for a Better Banking Experience?

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account and start earning up to 4.50% APY on your cash!


What Is Non-Taxable Income?

Non-taxable income is money, property, or services that you received that the IRS does not require you to pay taxes on, though you may still need to report it on your tax return. Common types of non-taxable income include child support payments, cash rebates, and welfare payments.

Recommended: What Is Unearned Income?

Examples of Non-Taxable Income

As with taxable income, the list of non-taxable income is extensive (and has a lot of fine print). We’ve compiled some examples of non-taxable income below, but it’s a good idea to work with an accountant if you’re unsure how to report your income on your tax return. Again, this is not a complete list.

•   Child support payments: Child support payments are not taxable income — and there’s no fine print to worry about with this money, either.

•   Welfare: Welfare benefits are not taxable. Like child support payments, guidance is very straightforward on this.

•   Alimony, sometimes: If you receive alimony for a divorce in 2019 or later, you do not pay taxes on that income. If you got a divorce before 2019 and modified the agreement after 2018, you may not have to pay taxes on alimony.

•   The sale of a house, sometimes: If you’re quickly flipping houses for a profit, those capital gains are taxable. However, the government has provided a sizable tax break for homeowners. If you sold your home and lived in it for at least two of the last five years, you don’t have to pay taxes on the first $250,000 in profit ($500,000 if married, filing jointly). There’s more fine print about this tax break, so it’s a good idea to reference IRS materials if you have large capital gains from the sale of a house.

•   Some fringe benefits: In general, fringe benefits are taxable, but the IRS does have a list of exclusions, like adoption assistance and dependent care assistance (up to certain limits). For full details, review the IRS’s detailed breakdown of fringe benefits and taxation; the link is provided above.

•   Some retirement income: While you’ll pay taxes when withdrawing from your traditional IRA and 401(k) in retirement, you won’t have to worry about taxes when drawing from a Roth IRA and Roth 401(k). Why? Contributions are post-tax, so you’ve already paid taxes on the funds.

•   Gifts and inheritances: You usually don’t have to pay taxes on (property) gifts you receive; the IRS doesn’t come for Santa’s presents!). What’s more, you likely don’t have to pay taxes on inheritances. Instead, the deceased’s estate pays taxes on the money before you receive the inheritance.

•   Life insurance payout: If you receive proceeds as the recipient of a life insurance policy when the policyholder dies, that money is not taxable. But if you cash in a life insurance policy, some or all of it is taxable.

The IRS has a more comprehensive list to review before filing.

Recommended: Different Types of Taxes

The Takeaway

It’s possible to earn both taxable and non-taxable income. While the most common source of income — your paycheck — is taxable, you might receive some income for which you pay no taxes, like child support or capital gains on the sale of your home. It’s wise to make sure you fully understand how money you receive is categorized, so that you can file your taxes correctly. This could be accomplished by working with a tax professional, using tax software, or doing your own research.

Looking for a way to make more money from your cash? Open a SoFi bank account, which boasts a competitive annual percentage yield (APY) and charges no account fees, both of which can help your savings grow. You can also spend and save in one convenient place and have savings tools like Vaults and Roundups at your fingertips.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall. Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

What are the pros and cons of taxable income?

The largest pro of taxable income is that it inherently means you’re making money. Whether it’s from a salary or an investment, having income that’s taxable implies you are receiving the money you need to survive. And, of course, the con of taxable income is that not all of the income is yours — you’ll have to pay taxes on it, and generally, the more you earn, the more you’ll owe.

What are the pros and cons of non-taxable income?

The biggest pro of non-taxable income is that you don’t have to pay taxes on it. Every dollar you earn is yours to keep. Non-taxable income can have some cons, however, depending on the source. For example, you may receive non-taxable income as a life insurance payout or inheritance, which implies you’ve lost someone special in your life. Non-taxable income can also be more confusing to navigate on your tax return and could necessitate the help of a professional accountant.

How do you calculate taxable and non-taxable income?

The IRS has a comprehensive guide to taxable vs. non-taxable income. In assessing each source of your income, you can review IRS guidance for how to report it and whether it’s taxable or not. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you may benefit from using tax preparation software or a professional tax preparer.


Photo credit: iStock/atakan

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Income Tax: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Income Tax: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Every year by April 15, give or take a day, most Americans file their tax returns. Income tax is exactly what it sounds like: Individuals and companies are typically required to pay taxes on their income, or the earnings and profits made during the previous year.

Figuring out the right amount to pay can take some time. When you or your tax preparer fills out your tax forms, you’ll find out if you’ve overpaid your taxes, meaning you’re entitled to a refund, or if you’ve underpaid, which means you’ll owe money to the government.

There are different types of income tax, but the one most people have to file is federal, which is done through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a bureau within the U.S. Treasury Department. Depending on where you live, you may also have to pay state or local income taxes as well.

Filing taxes can be confusing and complicated, but read on for a guide that will clarify:

•   What is income tax?

•   What are the different kinds of income tax?

•   How do you know how much you owe in income taxes?

•   How can you lower your taxable income?

What Are Income Taxes?

Income taxes are taxes that are collected by the government on income (aka money) earned by individuals and businesses. This can include salaries, tips, commissions, bonuses, investment income, interest earned, and other sources. Also know that what is an income tax can be assessed by a federal, state, and/or local government Some Americans may only pay federal taxes; others may be liable for those at a federal, state, and local level.

What are income taxes used for once they are collected? Taxes are typically earmarked to pay for public services, provide goods for citizens, and also go toward government needs. Infrastructure is a common use; that means things like building roads, improving education, and the like.

Income taxes may be collected at the federal, state, and local level, depending on where you live.

How Does Income Tax Work?

The amount of income tax you pay depends on how much money you’ve earned in the past year as well as other factors, such as whether you are single or the head of household. First, a bit more about what counts as taxable money:

•   Income that’s taxable includes your earnings from work, rental properties, or money made from stock investments.

•   Certain forms of income that are deemed nontaxable and may not have to be reported on your tax return. Some examples of nontaxable income are child support payments , financial gifts, alimony, and employer-provided health insurance.

The U.S. tax system is progressive, which means the greater your income, the higher your tax rate. The idea behind a progressive system is that people who earn more are able to pay more in taxes. So, depending where you fall income-wise, you’ll be taxed at a different rate.

Currently, there are seven tax brackets, ranging from 10% to 37%. Each bracket corresponds to specific income thresholds and are adjusted each year for inflation.

Tax season revolves around filing Income tax returns each spring. Some details:

•   The typical deadline is April 15, though if that date falls on a weekend or holiday, the date will be moved to the next business day.

•   Those who are self-employed may pay quarterly estimated taxes.

•   You must file your federal income tax return with the IRS, by mail or electronically. In order to file, you must have all the necessary year-end income documents, including those from your employers and financial institutions.

•   The IRS recommends taxpayers file electronically, since it can take six months or more to process a paper return. Electronic files move much more quickly through the system.

When you fill out your tax return and file it with the IRS, you’ll find out if you’ve underpaid and still owe any taxes or if you’ve paid too much and are entitled to a refund. Salaried workers file an IRS Form W-4 with their employer spelling out their tax withholding, or allowances. This indicates how much to set aside from a paycheck for taxes. This number can be changed to help compensate for too much or too little taxes paid out during the previous year.

Quick Money Tip: Direct deposit is the fastest way to get an IRS tax refund. More than 9 out of 10 refunds are issued in less than 21 days using this free service, plus you can track the payment and even split the funds into different bank accounts.

Brief History of How Income Taxes Came to Be

Now that you know what income tax is, here’s a quick look at how it came into being in America. The first federal income tax came about in 1861, as a way to finance the Civil War effort. A year later, Congress passed the Internal Revenue Act which created the Bureau of Internal Revenue, which eventually evolved into today’s IRS. But income tax didn’t have the substantial support after the Civil War and was repealed in 1872.

Federal income tax made a short comeback in 1894, but the next year it was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. This verdict was based on the grounds it was a direct tax and not apportioned among the states on the basis of population.

In 1909, the 16th amendment to the Constitution was introduced, which would give the government the power to collect taxes without allocating the burden among the states in line with population. It was passed by Congress then, but it still needed to be ratified by 36 states. Ratification of the 16th amendment finally happened in 1913, giving Congress the legal right to impose a federal income tax. This laid the foundation for the tax system as it’s known today.

What Are the Different Types of Income Taxes?

There are three basic types of taxes: taxes on what you buy, taxes on what you own, and taxes on what you earn. Under the umbrella of the latter, or earned income, there’s individual or personal income tax, business income tax, and state and local income taxes. Here’s the differences between them:

•   Individual or personal income tax. This type of tax is imposed on salaries, wages, investments, or any other forms of taxable income a person or household earns. Thanks to deductions, tax credits, and exemptions, most people don’t end up paying taxes on all their income.

•   Business or corporate income tax. This kind of tax is based on business profits, minus the costs involved in doing business. According to the IRS, all businesses except partnerships must file an annual income tax return.

•   State and local income tax. Depending on where you live and work, you may have to pay state and local taxes. Currently, nine states (Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Tennessee, Washington, Wyoming, and New Hampshire) don’t have a state income tax. Some local governments impose a local income tax on people who live or work in a specific city, town, county, municipality, or school district. Both state and local taxes help pay for a wide range of services like roads, schools , and law enforcement. State and local taxes are generally much lower than federal income tax.

Quick Money Tip: Typically, checking accounts don’t earn interest. However, some accounts will pay you a bit and help your money grow. An online bank account is more likely than brick-and-mortar to offer you the best rates.

How Do I Know How Much I Owe in Income Taxes?

In order to figure out how much income tax you may owe, here are some steps:

•   You’ll want to know your filing status which will determine which tax bracket you fall under. The five filing status choices are single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household, and qualifying widow(er) with dependent child.

•   Once you know how you’re going to file, you’ll need to gather up all your documents detailing your earned income, such as your W-2 and 1099 statements. When you have all of the information about how much money you earned, you can total it up, which amounts to your gross income.

•   The next step in knowing how much you owe in taxes is to calculate your adjusted gross income (AGI). You can do this by taking your total gross income from the year and subtracting any “above the line” adjustments, as they’re known, that you are eligible for. A list of adjustments to income can be found on the Schedule 1, 1040 IRS form and include deductions such as educator expenses, self-employment tax, and student loan interest payments.

Once you’ve got your AGI number, you can then subtract any standard or itemized deductions to get your taxable income amount. Itemized deductions can include charitable donations, paid mortgage interest, property taxes, and unreimbursed medical and dental expenses . An alternative to itemized deductions is the standard deduction option. A standard deduction is a set dollar amount based on your filing status. When you have your taxable income number, you can then pinpoint your tax bracket and determine your tax rate.

Recommended: What Are the Common Types of Payroll Deductions?

Ways to Lower Your Taxable Income

You can reduce your taxable income by taking advantage of any pre-tax savings opportunities available to you. Consider these tips:

•   Take advantage of employer-sponsored retirement plans. Contributions to a 401(k) for example, are made before tax. This removes the contribution amount from your taxable income and can thereby lower the amount of taxes you’ll have to pay for the year. You can also take an individual retirement account (IRA) deduction if you contribute, which can also lower taxes owed.

•   Enroll in a health spending account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA) if your company offers them. A health savings account allows pretax contributions to be used for upcoming healthcare costs for employees with high-deductible health insurance plans. If your employer doesn’t offer one, you can open a HSA on your own.

   With a flexible spending account, you’ll need to sign up through your employer. Similar to an HSA, you would make a pretax contribution, but a FSA covers medical and dependent expenses like childcare.

•   Figure out what tax deductions you can claim when you file your return. As previously noted, when it comes to deductions, Uncle Sam allows you to write off a number of expenses, including real estate taxes, certain casualty or theft losses, and donations made to a charitable organization. People who are self-employed can deduct such costs as office supplies, phone and internet costs, and any travel expenses related to work. These deductions can help save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars on your tax bill.

•   Check that your tax withholding is appropriate. As noted above, check your W-4 form, the one you fill out for your employer to let them know how much tax to take out. It may need to be adjusted if you owe a considerable amount of money in April. On the flip side, if you have too much withheld and get a significant refund, you’re basically giving the government an interest-free loan throughout the year. To be sure you’re paying the right amount, be sure your W-4 form is updated if you have a major life change, such as the birth of a child, marriage, divorce, or a significant pay raise.

Recommended: 7 Steps to Prepare for Tax Season

Tips for Filing Income Taxes Correctly

Avoiding mistakes when filing your tax return can help prevent you from missing out on a bigger refund than you claimed, owing more taxes, or triggering a tax audit by the IRS.

Here are some suggestions on how to fill out your tax return when filing whether you’ve done it before or are doing your taxes for the first time:

•   Gather all of your pertinent paperwork and make sure you’re not missing tax forms. You’ll need a W-2 form from each employer, other earning and interest statements, and receipts for any expenses you’re itemizing on your return. Any income and investment interest forms should be mailed or sent electronically to you in January. If you haven’t received them in the mail, you can find and download many of these documents online through your bank, mortgage provider, or payroll company. If you still haven’t received your tax statements or can’t find them online, call the necessary people to get your documents as soon as possible.

•   When filling out your return, make sure your basic information is accurate, such as your name, Social Security number, and filing status. The IRS will also be double-checking your numbers against your tax statement documentation.

•   Take care when disclosing your earned income. Report your financial information exactly as it’s reported to the IRS on forms such as your W-2 and 1099.

•   Sign your tax return. According to the IRS, an unsigned tax return is invalid. If you’re married and filing jointly, in most cases both spouses must sign the form. Filing electronically can help taxpayers avoid submitting an unsigned form by using a digital signature.

•   Consider using a tax preparation software program or having a professional tax preparer do your return. Online software is often fairly straightforward if your situation is pretty simple. However, if your tax return is more involved and complicated, it may be worth it to hire a tax professional. An experienced tax preparer can help ensure your tax return will be filed correctly and on time.

•   Try not to put off filing your taxes until the last minute or you run the risk of missing the tax filing deadline.

•   You can file for a tax extension of six months, but know that any taxes owed are still due on time; it’s the return that can be filed later.

Recommended: 11 Red Flags that Can Trigger a Tax Audit

The Takeaway

Income taxes are a way for the government to collect revenue from citizens and businesses. Besides paying federal income taxes, you may need to also pay state and local taxes. There are ways to lower your taxable income, and doing so can result in paying less when the bill comes due or a bigger refund. Knowing how to file correctly and on time can help prevent any delays in reimbursement checks, late fees, or penalties.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall. Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

Can I lower my income taxes?

Yes, there are several ways you can lower your taxable income. Participating in employer-supported programs (such as pre-tax contributions to a 401(k), FSA, and/or HSA), taking deductions, and choosing the right filing status are all ways you can help reduce your income taxes.

How can I determine how much income tax I’m required to pay?

You can start by estimating your taxable income. This involves taking your adjusted gross income, or AGI. which is the total amount you report that’s subject to income tax; typically, it’s earnings such as wages, dividends, and interest from a bank account, for example. Then you would subtract any tax deductions or eligible adjustments from that amount. What’s left is taxable income. You would then calculate the appropriate tax bracket percentage based on your income and filing status to figure out your tax liability.

Does income tax improve your money management?

It can. Being organized with your taxes can prevent you from owing a large sum come Tax Day, missing the filing deadline, and potentially paying any interest and late filing penalties to the IRS. If you’re self-employed, putting aside taxes from your earnings and paying your taxes quarterly can also help prevent a potentially large tax bill. And, of course, getting a hefty tax refund can go towards savings, investments, or paying down debt.


Photo credit: iStock/Charday Penn

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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