Standard Deduction

Filing status 2020 tax year 2021 tax year
Single $12,400 $12,550
Married, filing jointly $24,800 $25,100
Married, filing separately $12,400 $12,550
Head of household $18,650 $18,800

-The standard deduction is $1,350 higher for those who are over 65 or blind; it’s $1,700 higher if also unmarried and not a surviving spouse

-If someone can claim you as a dependent, you get a smaller standard deduction.

Tax Brackets

Tax rate Single Married, filing jointly Married, filing separately Head of household
10% $0 to $9,950 $0 to $19,400 $0 to $9,700 $0 to $13,850
12% $9,951 to $40,525 $19,401 to $78,950 $9,701 to $39,475 $13,851 to $52,850
22% $40,526 to $86,375 $78,951 to $168,400 $39,476 to $84,200 $52,851 to $84,200
24% $86,376 to $164,926 $168,401 to $321,450 $84,201 to $160,725 $84,201 to $160,700
32% $164,927 to $209,425 $321,451 to $408,200 $160,726 to $204,100 $160,701 to $204,100
35% $209,426 to $523,600 $408,201 to $612,350 $204,101 to $306,175 $204,101 to $510,300
37% $523,601 or more $612,351 or more $306,176 or more $510,301 or more

Earned Income Tax Credit ( EITC )

Number of children Maximum earned income tax credit Max earnings,
single or head of household filers
Max earnings,
joint filers
0 $529 $15,570 $21,370
1 $3,526 $41,094 $46,884
2 $5,828 $46,703 $52,493
3 or more $6,557 $50,162 $55,952

Most Common Credits

There are hundreds of deductions and credits out there. Here’s a list of some common ones, as well as links to our other content that will help you learn more.

Deduct up to $2,500 from your taxable income if you paid interest on your student loans. (How it works.)

This lets you claim all of the first $2,000 you spent on tuition, books, equipment and school fees — but not living expenses or transportation — plus 25% of the next $2,000, for a total of $2,500. (How it works.)

You can claim 20% of the first $10,000 you paid toward tuition and fees, for a maximum of $2,000. Like the American Opportunity Tax Credit, the Lifetime Learning Credit doesn’t count living expenses or transportation as eligible expenses. You can claim books or supplies needed for coursework. (How it works.)
For 2021 only, the total expenses that you may use to calculate the credit may not be more than $8,000 (for one qualifying individual) or $16,000 (for two or more qualifying individuals). Expenses paid for the care of a qualifying individual are eligible expenses if the primary reason for paying the expense is to assure the individual’s well-being and protection. If you received dependent care benefits that you exclude or deduct from your income, you must subtract the amount of those benefits from the dollar limit that applies to you.
  • For each qualifying child age 5 or younger, an eligible individual generally received $300 each month. That was determined by dividing $3,600 in half, which is $1,800. Six monthly payments of $300 provided the eligible individual with $1,800.
  • For each qualifying child ages 6 to 17, an eligible individual generally received $250 each month. That was determined by dividing $3,000 in half, which is $1,500. Six monthly payments of $250 provided the eligible individual with $1,500.
For the 2019 tax year, this item covers up to $14,080 in adoption costs per child. For 2020, it covers up to $14,300. (How it works.)
This credit can get you between $529 and $6,557 in 2019 depending on how many kids you have, your marital status and how much you make. In 2020, the range is $538 to $6,660. It’s something to explore if your AGI is less than about $57,000. (How it works.)
If you itemize, you may be able to subtract the value of your charitable gifts — whether they’re in cash or property, such as clothes or a car — from your taxable income. (How it works.)
  • Medical Expenses
In general, you can deduct qualified, unreimbursed medical expenses that are more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income for the tax year. (How it works.)
You may deduct up to $10,000 ($5,000 if married filing separately) for a combination of property taxes and either state and local income taxes or sales taxes. (How the property tax deduction and the sales tax deduction work.)
The mortgage interest tax deduction is touted as a way to make homeownership more affordable. It cuts the federal income tax that qualifying homeowners pay by reducing their taxable income by the amount of mortgage interest they pay. (How it works.)
Gambling losses and expenses are deductible only to the extent of gambling winnings. So, spending $100 on lottery tickets isn’t deductible — unless you win, and report, at least $100, too. You can’t deduct more than the amount you win. (How it works.)
You may be able to deduct contributions to a traditional IRA, though how much you can deduct depends on whether you or your spouse is covered by a retirement plan at work and how much you make. (How it works.)
The IRS doesn’t tax what you divert directly from your paycheck into a 401(k). For 2019, you can funnel up to $19,000 per year into such an account. If you’re 50 or older, you can contribute up to $25,000. In 2020, those limits are $19,500 and $26,000, respectively. These retirement accounts are usually sponsored by employers, although self-employed people can open their own 401(k)s. (How it works.)
This runs 10% to 50% of up to $2,000 in contributions to an IRA, 401(k), 403(b) or certain other retirement plans ($4,000 if filing jointly). The percentage depends on your filing status and income. (How it works.)
Contributions to HSAs are tax-deductible, and the withdrawals are tax-free, too, as long as you use them for qualified medical expenses. For 2019, if you have self-only high-deductible health coverage, you can contribute up to $3,500; in 2020, it’s $3,550. If you have family high-deductible coverage, you can contribute up to $6,900 in 2019 and $7,100 in 2020.
  • Self Employed Deductions
There are many valuable tax deductions for freelancers, contractors and other self-employed people. (How it works.)
If you use part of your home regularly and exclusively for business-related activity, the IRS lets you write off associated rent, utilities, real estate taxes, repairs, maintenance and other related expenses. (How it works.)
If you’re a school teacher or other eligible educator, you can deduct up to $250 spent on classroom supplies.
This one can get you up to 30% of the installation cost of solar energy systems, including solar water heaters and solar panels. (Read more.)
* Info was provided by NERDWALLET.COM