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Most of us have a responsibility to pay federal personal income tax, whether it is withheld from our paychecks or we pay it ourselves. But how is income tax calculated? What does the tax return calculator consider? And how can you lower the amount you owe?

How will the tax reform bill affect how much you pay?

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Read on to learn more about federal income tax! Tax brackets are often confused with tax rates, but the terms aren't interchangeable. In other words, each layer of your taxable income that falls inside a certain bracket is taxed at that bracket's rate.

As your income grows, the next layer of taxable income is taxed at the next tax bracket's "marginal" rate. Tax reform changed the income tax brackets and tax rates for many filers, so it's important to learn more about how this may affect you. Filing status is a factor in how much tax is calculated at a certain level of taxable income. It's also tied to the eligibility ranges for certain deductions, credits, and exemptions.

Your filing status will be one of the following: Select your status on the tax refund and tax reform calculator above.

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Tax exemptions lowered taxable income, resulting in a lower tax bill. However, the TCJA eliminated personal and dependent exemptions, and instead increased the size of the standard deduction.

Income that is taxable can include salaries, wages and other forms of compensation, as well as income from self-employment, investments, rental property, and many other sources. Take a look at our complete list of taxable income to learn more.

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Adjusted gross income AGI is your total gross income, reduced by certain adjustments such as IRA or HSA contributions, or the deduction for qualified student loan interest. Taxable income is adjusted gross income minus your deductions standard or itemized.

There are two ways to claim deductions, which can reduce your taxable income and therefore the amount of tax you owe. You can either claim the standard deduction —an amount based on your filing status— or you can itemize your deductions.