Historical Federal Income Tax Information

The modern federal income tax was introduced in 1913, and is currently based on numerous factors, including filing status, number of dependents, and the gross earnings of each employee each year.  During the history of this tax, the wage base on which percents have been computed has changed, as has the meaning of exemptions and deductions.  The tables below give a rough guide to the history, but information is not always comparable from year to year.

Basic Concepts of the Federal Income Tax

Lowest Tax Bracket
Years Rate Ceiling Comments
(Items not included in given rate)
1913-1915 1% $20,000  
1916 2% $20,000  
1917 2% $2,000  
1918 6% $4,000  
1919-1923 4% $4,000 In 1923, a statutory credit effectively reduced this rate to 3%.
1924 2% $4,000 A statutory credit effectively reduced this rate to 1.5%.
1925-1928 1.5% $4,000 A statutory credit effectively reduced this rate to 1.125%.
1929 0.5% $4,000 A statutory credit effectively reduced this rate to 0.375%.
1930-1931 1.5% $4,000 A statutory credit effectively reduced this rate to 1.125%.
1932-1940 4% $4,000 In 1940, a defense surchage effectively increased this rate to 4.4%.  In 1934-1940, some statutory deductions effectively reduced this rate.
1941 10% $2,000 Some statutory deductions effectively reduced this rate.
1942-1943 19% $2,000 Some statutory deductions effectively reduced this rate.
1944-1945 23% $2,000  
1946-1947 20% $2,000 A statutory credit effectively reduced this rate to 19%.
1948-1950 20% $4,000 In 1948-1948, statutory credits effectively reduced this rate to 16.6%, and in 1950, to 17.4%.
1951 20.4% $4,000  
1952-1953 22.2% $4,000  
1954-1963 20% $4,000  
1964 16% $1,000  
1965-1976 14% $1,000 In 1974, a statutory rebate effectively reduced this rate.
1977-1978 14% $3,200 *  
1979-1981 14% $3,400 * In 1981, a statutory credit effectively reduced the rate to 13.875%.
1982 12% $3,400 *  
1983-1984 11% $3,400 *  
1985-1986 11% $3,540 + *  
1987 11% $3,000  
1988-2001 15% $29,750 +  
2002 10% $12,000  
2003- 10% $14,000 +  

 
Highest Tax Bracket
Years Rate Floor Comments
(Items not included in given rate)
1913-1915 7% $500,000  
1916 15% $2,000,000  
1917 67% $2,000,000  
1918 77% $1,000,000  
1919-1921 73% $1,000,000  
1922-1923 58% $200,000 In 1923, a statutory credit effectively reduced this rate to 43.5%.
1924 46% $500,000  
1925-1928 25% $100,000  
1929 24% $100,000  
1930-1931 25% $100,000  
1932-1935 63% $1,000,000  
1936-1940 79% $5,000,000 In 1940, a defense tax surcharge effectively increased this rate to 81.1%.
1941 81% $5,000,000  
1942-1943 88% $200,000  
1944-1945 94% $200,000 The tax was limited to a 90% effective rate.
1946-1947 91% $200,000 A statutory credit effectively reduced this rate to 86.45%.  The tax was limited to a 90% effective rate (85.5% after credit).
1948-1951 91% $400,000 In 1948-1949, statutory credits effectively reduced this rate to 82.13%, and in 1950, to 84.36%.  The tax was limited to a 77% effective rate in 1948-1949, 87% in 1950, and 87.2% in 1951.
1952-1953 92% $400,000 The tax was limited to an 88% effective rate.
1954-1963 91% $400,000 The tax was limited to an 87% effective rate.
1964 77% $400,000  
1965-1976 70% $200,000 Vietnam War surcharges effectively increased this rate to 75.25% in 1968, 77% in 1969, and 71.75% in 1970.  The tax was limited to a 60% effective rate in 1971, and 50% in 1972-1976.  In 1974, a statutory rebate effectively reduced this rate.
1977-1978 70% $203,200 * The tax was limited to an 50% effective rate.
1979-1981 70% $215,400 * In 1981, a statutory credit effectively reduced the rate to 69.125%.  The tax was limited to an 50% effective rate.
1982 50% $85,600 *  
1983 50% $109,400 *  
1984-1986 50% $162,400 + *  
1987 38.5% $90,000  
1988-1990 28% $29,750 +  
1991-1992 31% $82,150 +  
1993-2000 39.6% $89,150 + Floor statutorially adjusted to $250,000 in 1994.
2001 39.1% $297,350  
2002-2003 38.6% $307,050 +  
2004- 35% $319,100 +  

 
Exemption Values
Years Single Person Exemption Comments
1913-1916 $3,000 $4,000 for a married couple, no exemptions for dependents
1917-1920 $1,000 $200 for each dependent
1921-1924 $1,000 $2,500 for each married couple (but only $2,000 in 1921-23 for lowest earning couples), $400 for each dependent
1925-1931 $1,500 $3,500 for a married couple, $400 for each dependent
1932-1939 $1,000 $2,500 for a married couple, $400 for each dependent
1940 $800 $2,000 for a married couple, $400 for each dependent
1941 $750 $400 for each dependent
1942-1943 $500 $1,200 for a married couple, $350 for each dependent
1944-1947 $500 From 1944 forward, single and dependent exemptions are equal, and a married couple receives 2 exemptions.
1948-1969 $600  
1970 $625  
1971 $675  
1972-1978 $750  
1979-1984 $1,000  
1985-1986 $1,040 + Indexing for inflation began in 1985.
1987- $1,900 + For 1987, the personal exemption value was adjusted by law.

 
Indexing to Inflation
Years Lowest Bracket Ceiling Highest Bracket Floor Single Person Exemption Comments
1984 $3,400 $162,400 $1,000 The 1984 values are the base upon which indexing began.
1985 $3,540 $169,020 $1,040  
1986 $3,670 $175,250 $1,080  
1987 $3,000 $90,000 $1,900 All amounts were adjusted by law.
1988 $29,750 $29,750 $1,950  
1989 $30,950 $30,950 $2,000  
1990 $32,450 $32,450 $2,050  
1991 $34,000 $82,150 $2,150 The highest bracket floor was adjusted by law.
1992 $35,800 $86,500 $2,300  
1993 $36,900 $89,150 $2,350  
1994 $38,000 $250,000 $2,450 The highest bracket floor was adjusted by law.
1995 $39,000 $256,500 $2,500  
1996 $40,100 $263,750 $2,550  
1997 $41,200 $271,050 $2,650  
1998 $42,350 $278,450 $2,700  
1999 $43,050 $283,150 $2,750  
2000 $43,850 $288,350 $2,800  
2001 $45,200 $297,350 $2,900  
2002 $12,000 $307,050 $3,000 The lowest bracket ceiling was adjusted by law.
2003 $14,000 $311,950 $3,050 The lowest bracket ceiling was adjusted by law.
2004 $14,300 $319,100 $3,100  
2005 $14,600 $326,450 $3,200  

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