2022 Income Tax Brackets And The New Ideal Income For Maximum Happiness

The 2022 income tax brackets and standard deductions are out! Although the actual income tax brackets have not changed, the taxable income range per tax bracket has adjusted upward slightly to account for inflation. That's nice of the IRS, but at the end of the day, the government still wants our money!.

Here are four charts I created for the 2022 income tax brackets for singles and for married couples. In these charts, I also include the long-term capital gains tax rates. The short-term capital gains tax rate equals the federal income tax rate.

Single 2022 Income Tax Brackets

2022 Income Tax Brackets for singles

As you can see from the chart, the biggest income tax rate jump goes from 24% to 32% when your income is between $170,051 to $215,950. Further, the widest differential between the income tax rate and long-term capital gains tax rate is income between $215,951 to $459,750. The difference is 20% (35% – 15%).

Married, Filing Jointly 2022 Income Tax Brackets

2022 Income Tax Brackets for married, filing jointly

Married, Filing Separately 2022 Income Tax Brackets

Married, Filing Separately 2022 Income Tax Brackets

Head Of Household 2022 Income Tax Brackets

Head of Household 2022 Income tax brackets and long-term capital gains tax rate

Please be aware there are still ongoing talks with Joe Biden and most Democrats about increasing income tax rates and capital gains tax rates for 2022. 

If successful, the highest marginal income tax rate would increase from 37% to 39.6%. The rate would kick in for single filers with income over $400,000, heads of household over $425,000, married joint filers over $450,000, and married separate filers over $225,000. In other words, the income thresholds would be lowered for the highest marginal income tax rate for all household formations.

2022 Standard Deduction Amounts

The 2022 standard deduction amounts are as follows:

  • Single or married filing separately: $12,950
  • Married filing jointly: $25,900
  • Head of household: $19,400

The additional standard deduction for people who have reached age 65 (or who are legally blind) is $1,400 for each married taxpayer or $1,750 for unmarried taxpayers.

In other words, the standard deduction amounts reduce your taxable income by the amount per filing status. You can also make up to the 2022 standard deduction amounts and pay no income taxes. This is ideal for students and other low-wage workers who want to contribute to a Roth IRA.

For all parents out there, please encourage your children to earn money, and contribute the maximum $6,000 into a Roth IRA. You're supposed to contribute after-tax money into Roth IRA. It then compounds tax-free and gets to be withdrawn tax-free. However, for those children and adults earning under the standard deduction amount, they get to contribute tax-free as well!

If you have a small business, opening up a custodial Roth IRA for your child is a no-brainer. In 10 years, your children are guaranteed to thank you or your money back.

2022 Capital Gains and Qualified Dividends Tax Rates

For 2022, long-term capital gains and qualified dividends face the following tax rates:

Single Or Married Filing Separately Long-Term Capital Gains Tax Rate

0% tax rate up to $41,675

15% tax rate up to $459,750

20% tax rate up to $517,200

Married Filing Jointly Long-Term Capital Gains Tax Rate

0% tax rate up to $83,350

15% tax rate up to $517,200

20% tax rate on any income beyond $517,200

You will see these capital gains and qualified dividends tax rates conveniently included in the charts above in the most right column.

2022 Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)

The 2022 AMT exemption amount is increased to:

  • $75,900 for single people and people filing as head of household,
  • $118,100 for married people filing jointly, and
  • $59,050 for married people filing separately.

The AMT is what nullifies many of the tax benefits given to six-figure and seven-figure income-earners.

2022 Annual Gift Tax Exclusion

For 2022 the annual exclusion for gifts to individuals has increased from $15,000 to $16,000. You can now give $16,000 per person in 2022 tax-free. Each $16,000 gift basically reduces your estate value by $16,000.

If you have an estate valued at greater than the estate tax threshold, it behooves you to give more money away. Otherwise, any money above the estate tax threshold will be taxed at 40%.

The 2022 estate tax threshold per person is now $12,060,000, up from $11,700,000 per person. But again, the estate tax threshold could come down under the Biden administration. President Biden has proposed cutting the estate tax threshold in half.

Another benefit from increasing the annual gift tax exclusion is that you can now superfund a 529 plan with $80,000 in 2022, up from $75,000 per person. A married couple can superfund a beneficiary's 529 plan in one lump sum by $160,000. But remember, your IRS Form 709 must reflect your option to take the five-year election.

2022 Ideal Income Based On 2022 Income Tax Rates

Now that you know the 2022 income tax brackets, long-term capital gains tax rates, standard deduction amounts, and AMT thresholds, we can now calculate the ideal income for maximum happiness while paying a reasonable amount of tax.

Yes, it's true that most working Americans don't pay federal income taxes. 60.6% of Americans didn't pay income taxes in 2020 and an estimated 57% of working Americans still won't pay income taxes in 2021. But someone has to pay income taxes to help support this great nation, so that might as well be us.

In terms of the ideal income based on 2022 income tax rates, I say they are:

  • $170,050 MAGI for singles
  • $340,100 MAGI for married couples

The above income levels face a marginal income tax rate of 24%. Any dollar over gets taxed at a more egregious 32%, an 8 percentage point jump. Why there's such a large tax rate increase compared to only a 2 percentage point increase from 22% to 24%, I have no idea.

Examining The Budget Reveals The Truth

But if you go through a detailed budget, as I have done with a $300,000 household income, you'll see that earning $170,050 for singles and $340,100 for married couples provides an ideal balance. The income is high enough to save for retirement, own a house, vacation, and raise children. But the income is also low enough that you're still paying a reasonable income tax rate. The effective tax rate is actually much lower.

Another reason why I'm aiming to consistently generate $300,000 in passive investment income is that the qualified dividends and capital gains are taxed at a reasonable 15% rate. There is obviously a good argument to be made for why investment income and gains should be not be taxed at a higher rate, since we already paid taxes on the invested capital.

Upon closer review of the long-term capital gains tax rates, the ideal passive income amount is up to $517,200. However, getting to that level of passive investment income is just not feasible for most of us.

The Second Ideal Income Amounts Based On 2022 Income Tax Brackets

If you can't make $170,050 as a single person or $340,100 as a married couple, there's a second ideal income amount for ultimate happiness and paying reasonable taxes. They are:

  • $41,775 MAGI for singles
  • $83,551 MAGI for married couples

At these income levels, you are only paying a marginal income tax rate of 12%. Every dollar more than these levels faces a 22% marginal income tax rate up to $89,075 for singles and up to $178,150 for married couples filing jointly. A 10 percentage point jump is pretty steep.

Given some researchers in 2010 reported more money above $75,000 doesn't buy happiness, married couples may have found their sweet spot at $83,551. If you use a 2% inflation rate since 2010, $75,000 equals $93,253. Therefore, inflation-adjusted, the second ideal income for singles is closer to $48,000 a year, or $4,000 a month.

The only problem with earning less income is that you have less of an absolute dollar amount to save and invest. Therefore, if you plan to earn the second ideal income amount, you had better enjoy your job or already be near or in retirement. At these income levels, it will be very hard to retire early and do something else.

MAGI stands for Modified Adjusted Gross Income. It takes into account all the deductions and credits.

The Third Ideal Income For Maximum Happiness

We have a government that keeps on giving! The Biden administration announced the income threshold for student loan forgiveness of $125,000 per person and $250,000 per household.

Therefore, the ideal income for maximum happiness is around $125,000 per person. You can live a great middle-class lifestyle AND get all the government subsidies. Not bad!

The middle class is the best class in the world because it always gets pandered to by the government. Nobody looks down on the middle class, only the rich and poor!

What's Your Ideal Income Based On Future Income Tax Rates?

I've argued the best time to retire may be when tax rates are rising and the social safety net is growing. I left work in 2012 mainly because I was burned out. But the possibility of also facing a 39.6% marginal income tax rate just didn't sound appealing. I didn't love the money that much. If I had, I would have kept grinding away.

Today, I'm mainly focused on doing work that I like. The income that comes from it is of secondary consideration. However, I'm still careful about trying to accurately forecast my future investment income because it plays a big part in the overall tax rate I will pay.

Paying a total effective tax rate (federal, state, FICA) up to 25% is ideal in my opinion. At 25%, you're contributing to the greater good while also keeping most of your hard-earned money. A good life can be lived with an income high enough to pay a 25% effective tax rate.

Paying a total effective tax rate over 30% doesn't seem worth it at this stage in my life. Therefore, if I'm fortunate enough to pay more than a 25% effective tax rate, I will throttle my work in order to enjoy life more. The only problem is, I almost always enjoy what I do. So any overage should be donated.

Let me know what your ideal income is and why! The 2022 Income Tax Bracket is a FS original post. I wrote a new 2023 Income Tax Bracket post with the same theme.

Related posts:

2022 Social Security Cost Of Living Adjustment Is Huge

2022 Retirement Plan Contribution Changes

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72 thoughts on “2022 Income Tax Brackets And The New Ideal Income For Maximum Happiness”

  1. Thanks for this post! My husband and I just gathering info for 2022 taxes and we are currently at $340K AGI…still more documents to arrive, but good to know we are somewhat maximized in terms of ‘the hustle’ and how much is taxed. We are in our early 30s and my husband already wants to retire…but I tell him no because we still have a nanny to pay for and I want another baby.

  2. This was a fantastic article, Sam. Although, I would say next level income for our family would be around $225k. This level income would allow us to max 401k, Roth IRA, HSA, plus put some monies into a 529. We could afford a nice $750k home and still have around $7500 per month left over after mortgage payment…. $340k would be awesome but not attainable…. We make $177k per year, so $225k per year would be awesome… cheers

  3. Douglas Barnett

    I’m not sure everyone would aim for maximum happiness by adjusting their income to tax schedules. :)] However, for a more personalized answer, if the answer for FS is 340,000 as a couple or household, in California, I would ask what percentile of income ranking is that for the state? Using this website: dqydj.com/income-percentile-by-state-calculator/ (2020 values), I find that 340,000 is the 96th percentile for a household in California. I would break this down between coastal and interior regions, but let’s stick with the overall state level for this example.
    In Florida, per the calculator, a 96% income percentile is about $300,000. In Nebraska, it is about $280,000.

    In other words, (apologies for the wordiness), the $340,000 for California can be adjusted by percentile from state to state (and rural vs. urban or coastal) for, possibly, the same level of happiness that a life in California brings, if speaking only in terms of equivalent income. However, there needs to be a way to figure in the cost of living as well. The cost of living index in Sacramento, CA is about 121 while in Jacksonville, FL it is 94. So, maximizing happiness – in material terms only – involves both income and cost considerations. I am merely repeating what another person has already said above, but suggesting some methodological refinements as well.

  4. These days I am not sure the 75K theory holds up anywhere in the country with the cost of real estate, college, and general goods/services. In most places I’d say ideal is between 150K – 350K. That’s a big range but should be about right depending on where you live in the country. 150K may work well in Wyoming, but won’t cut the mustard in expensive metros, and coastal areas.

  5. Sam,

    You might be interested in this newer study: https://www.verywellmind.com/happiness-doesn-t-top-out-at-usd75-000-study-says-5097098

    A take on the original study: https://www.vox.com/2015/6/20/8815813/orange-is-the-new-black-piper-chapman-happiness-study

    Personally, I’m not sure how much money would make me happy. While I don’t make as much as many of the commenters here, I certainly do ok. However, I have extra demands on my money due to a family situation and the 75K study has always irritated me.

  6. 1950’s Rock

    What if your W-2 household income on avg btw 800k to 1.2 million. Why would you suppress your income? This kind of income is a blessing and if I’m understanding what you are saying I should try to make less to pay the least amount of taxes possible?

    1. It sure is a blessing, especially if you enjoy it. However, I’m looking for the maximum income for happiness where more income doesn’t create more happiness. As such, one can then optimize their lives better if they don’t absolutely love or at least really like what they do.

      After these income levels, it’s more optimal to make passive income taxed at a lower rate.

      What do you do?

  7. Posts like this are easily the most frustrating type of post that you do. I know that it’s your website and you can say what you want, but for a smart guy, complaining about taxes shows a lack of deep thinking and lack of compassion.

    Paying taxes is good for society. Generally speaking, the money spent has a higher return collectively than it does privately. Spending money on infrastructure is GOOD. Spending money on education is GOOD. Spending money on social programs is GOOD. Taxes are a mostly fair way to do this. You often say that you like donating to your community, and taxes are essentially a fair donation to keep society functioning.

    Rather than complaining about how much money you pay in taxes, that effort is better directed at how to close loopholes and how to better spend the money so that it is more efficient so that society gets a better return or higher impact. Highlight poor choices that are made by elected officials and better choices that could be made. Yes of course there’s going to be some waste, but the government is no more wasteful than private corporations. I’ve worked at Amazon, and I can tell you that there is an absolutely massive amount of corporate waste. Energy is better spent on rooting out and eliminating corruption and voting for good, smart people who want government to be more transparent and efficient.

    If you want to pay less in taxes, what are you going to cut? Social programs? What about the people who are unlucky in life? You just posted an article about how wealth is mostly determined by luck. Are you just going to let unlucky people starve and die in the street? I don’t think so. Social programs are some of the best dollars that the government can spend. Back in 2009-2010, I got a lot of money through unemployment which allowed me to continue living in the bay area. 11 years later, I’m making more than 10x what I received in unemployment and have easily paid back that debt and then some. If it wasn’t for unemployment, I would have had to move back in with my parents and would not have the economic opportunities I have today.

    And because I know you’re going to ask, my NW is about $2.5M. Last year I paid ~$125,000 in taxes. I felt good about paying every penny of that because I know the majority of it contributes to the society that allows me to continue making money. I don’t have to worry about crime because most people in my neighborhood are also doing well. My community is beautiful because I know the local government is well funded and can pay for maintenance and beautification projects.

    Do you want to see what life looks like when people don’t pay taxes? Go to just about any red midwestern state. You know, the ones that people are leaving in droves? The ones where municipalities are so in debt that they are closing schools. Poor schools directly influences crime in the area. I grew up in one of those places, and I can tell you first hand that you couldn’t pay me to move back there.

    1. Can you specifically highlight where I am complaining? I write,

      “ But someone has to pay income taxes to help support this great nation, so that might as well be us.”

      I also write how I think paying 25% is the optimum overall effective tax rate. And after 30%, I personally would rather take it down. I suggest people to work accordingly to what they believe as well.

      “ Paying a total effective tax rate (federal, state, FICA) up to 25% is ideal in my opinion. At 25%, you’re contributing to the greater good while also keeping most of your hard-earned money. A good life can be lived with an income high enough to pay a 25% effective tax rate.

      Paying a total effective tax rate over 30% doesn’t seem worth it at this stage in my life. Therefore, if I’m fortunate enough to pay more than a 25% effective tax rate, I will throttle my work in order to enjoy life more. The only problem is, I almost always enjoy what I do. So any overage should be donated.”

      Maybe I can bold some of what I wrote so you can see it better?

      It seems like you are projecting your frustrations on an article that is different from what I’m thinking. What is it that you are truly frustrated about? What happened?

      1. Projecting one’s feelings is real. People tend to see what they want to see.

        Perhaps Robert J got in an argument with a friend who really hates taxes and is just venting here.

        I don’t see you complaining at all. You state the facts and rationally stopped working when you no longer wanted to pay as high of a tax. Most people just complain, but do NOTHING about their situation!

      2. It’s a useful post. A tax is how much of your work the government takes from your work. A tax bracket is a mostly arbitrary delineator for the amount they take. It sometimes doesn’t behoove an individual to enter a bracket and give up extra time of their lives to the government when they don’t get to keep as much of the earnings.

    2. Wow! What a response. I think you had a bad day and totally misunderstood the article. Calm down and come back later and reread. This was not a complaining about taxes article at all.

    3. Are you reading the same article I am? Relax. Congrats on paying six figures in taxes. America needs you. Your response is so off.

      This article was very insightful to understand 2022 tax rates.

    4. “Energy is better spent on rooting out and eliminating corruption and voting for good, smart people who want government to be more transparent and efficient.”

      Let me guess, you think that’s what we voted for last time out? The “good, smart” candidate that is free of “corruption” and spearheading “efficient” spending? lol

      Your midwestern states comment is also interesting with the most populous (blue) urban cities in the region like Chicago and Detroit really doing well. Leading by example for the rest to follow. Sigh!

    5. Statements like “Paying taxes is good for society” are so silly that everything you say can be safely ignored. Is it good when that tax money is spent on dropping bombs on innocent families in the middle east? Should I feel good about that “collective return”?

      Nothing you say is backed up with a shred of evidence, as to be expected, since there is literally nothing about the progressive liberal political agenda backed by anything but ridiculous feelings and emotions.

      1. My son is disabled and can’t work, and let me tell you. He so badly wishes he could! The amount he gets in disability is appalling. I don’t know how anyone can live in any circumstance with the amount he receives. I am lucky enough to be able to support him even though it takes from other goals and dreams. My point is that until you face or have a loved one facing the unfortunate reality of this, the amount given is absurd. Just one thought I know it is a bigger issue.

    6. Bay Area Person

      Um, re-read the post objectively. Sam repeats several times in the article that it’s good to pay taxes because of the overall societal benefits. IMO, this was a very logically written article supported by the latest data from IRS about taxation rules for 2022.

    7. You should feel free to pay even more since you like taxes so much. Tax is Theft by another name.

    8. Just out of curiosity, you mention red states where people are leaving in droves. Can you specify which states these are? Because the two states in the Midwest losing population the fastest are Michigan and Illinois: both of which couldn’t be more blue. As a Chicago resident, I think it’s laughable that you double down on your argument by bringing up municipalities – Chicago/Cook County/Illinois tax us at every possible turn, yet still don’t have nearly enough money to cover annual budgets/outstanding debts. I can assure you these spending plans were not put forth by the red states like you indicate in your post.

      If you’re going to try to make this post political (which was never the intention) while also giving yourself a self-righteous pat on the back, at least put forth a semi-respectable argument.

      1. Minnesota has been a blue state longer than any other(1972 was the last time they voted Republican in a presidential election), and the exodus of the wealthy is real and accelerating. MN has the 4th highest income tax rates in the country, and they lost $997M of taxable base in 2020, and the average income of the taxpayer moving(mostly to AZ and FL) was $210k annually. We will follow many of our friends and make Florida our domicile for 183 days each year after our daughter graduates in 2023. Our income tax and property tax savings will be about $150,000 annually. If you count the long-term capital gains from the planned sale of stocks we’ve held for over a decade, the state income tax savings will be over $1M that first year as a FL resident.

    9. I’ll go so far as we need to close loopholes and better spend the money. Highlighting elected officials that make poor choices seems to do next to nothing as elections, rightly or wrongly (mostly wrongly) are chiefly determined by other things and our too many of our career politicians are shameless and become more so every year as they take further notice of how apathetic the voters are about their spending.

      In my state, they spend a bit over 25k per student per year for elementary school. That means a class of 30 burns through 750k. The teacher’s salary is maybe a tenth of that. This is one reason why I don’t like taxes.

      (This is in addition to the Federal government, at my last count, having 17 agencies that deal with education, and none of which work with each other.)

      My marginal Federal income tax rate is 24% (to return to 25% in a few years). But with State income tax, municipal income tax, property taxes, sales tax, tag and registration fees, and over 100 other taxes, to include (gas tax, alcohol tax, toll roads, hunting and fishing licenses, various “fees”, corporate income tax (and other taxes and charges passed on to you as a consumer) and I’ve estimated my actual tax rate is about 56% of gross wages. The way they deliberately hide this from the folks paying it screams hypocrisy to me, and I hate hypocrisy. This is one reason why I don’t like taxes.

      People that make less than we do pay less taxes but, if they don’t pay any, they have little interest in voting to keep tax rate under control for anyone making substantially more than they do.

      People that make more than we do may or may not pay more in taxes, but they pay at a lower rate. have little interest in voting to keep tax rate under control for anyone making substantially less than they do. This is one reason why I don’t like taxes.

      I don’t like a tax system that has become so convoluted (through the efforts of politicians and bureaucrats to use it as means for pushing their own agendas) that even people with advanced financial degrees can never be completely certain they have filed correctly. This is one reason why I don’t like taxes.

      We used to marvel over Europeans paying 50% in taxes to support their national health plans. Many of us now pay more, and still don’t get nearly as much for it.

  8. Although I do not enjoy paying extra federal or state taxes I try to maximize the amount of income I make so that my pathway to financial freedom is smoother and quicker. I maximize all my legal tax deductions through my business and the rest I invest in index funds. If I had to pick my ideal income it would be around $600,000 so I can enjoy the finer things in life like travel and amazing food.

  9. For a family with multiple kids, I think around $250-400k income is where money related happiness factor curve will flatten out depending on the cost of living where you live. I live in a suburb outside a HCOL city so I would say around $350k for my situation.

    I think you reach that optimal happiness level which money can affect, when you can stop considering the impact to your finances while doing normal stuff. like going out to eat, what you put in the grocery carts, shopping, participating in hobbies, etc. ( Of course if you have a taste for a high end life style then no amount of money can satisfy you. )

  10. This post is literally limiting as it encourages capping income. Rather start a side hustle and precede as follows. Start LLC, file to have IRS treat as S Corp. Pay self reasonable salary of $85k. Pay self rest of profits in dividends taxed at 15%. Ideal income now infinity. Employ spouse for bonus points.

    1. Indeed. Because at some point, more money and spending more time making more time isn’t worth it.

      Is paying a 15% tax on your S Corp distributions what you pay? If so, can you share some details on how that works? Because I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work that way and I would set aside capital to pay the IRS if they catch the tax underpayment.

      1. I would also like to understand how pass-through S-Corp profits can be treated and taxed as dividends @ 15%…

        1. Im an accountant and work with small businesses and this is a fairy tale. Whatever you dont pay out to you as a reasonable salary is schedule C income and not dividends. Someone is forgetting that for dividends to be taxed as QUALIFIED divididend rates, they have to be qualified (basically a dividend declared by a C corp from a multinational etc.)

    2. Not everyone can do that, you still need the doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc who cannot start a side hustle.

    3. The post highlights to me that the hard line in the sand tax brackets are a disincentive to work. People shouldn’t have to bother making an LLC if their intention is to merely be productive.

  11. Great article and good reminder to look at your taxes for 2022. I think your numbers are great place to start, but you really do have to make the adjustments for 401K contributions (26,000 X2), Cafeteria plans contributions(2,750X2), and family health insurance employee cost(5k+) if you work for a company. If after those adjustments I am at $340,100 as married filing jointly I am one happy person.

  12. It would be even more interesting if you included FICA into this analysis. It effectively splits the 24% tax bracket into two if you think about it. It maxes out at 147K taxable income for 2022. That would take your effective margin rate from 30.2% (for the 83.5K to 147K bracket) down to 24% for the 147K to 170K tax bracket (for filing single).

      1. My ideal income (as a single taxpayer), would be roughly 215K. why? because that maxes out the 24% tax bracket, You can easily deduct roughly 45K from taxable income: SALT (10K) + Mortgage interest (10K) + 401K(20K) + HSA(3.6K) + Charity/other (1-2K).

        For a married couple, I would say roughly 420K (assuming 80K deductions by the same logic).

        If you can make more than that without much hassle, then go for it, but if it’s going to cost you significantly more time, more stress, etc.. then I don’t think it makes sense when you are paying 32%+ taxes.

        Another thing to think about are subsidies that start to disappear as your income goes up (ie. child tax credits being the big one). Usually that starts kicking in around 200k single/ 400k married

  13. Anders Bodker

    Jealous! Here in Denmark, with a pre-tax income of about 76k a year, I pay 46% in taxes!
    Besides, marginal income from stocks above $6,300 is taxed at 42% (below 6,300 is taxed at 27%).
    However, we do have free education and health insurance…

      1. Anders Bodker

        That’s true, we always tend to do well in the happiness comparisons. I actually attribute a lot of this to our social security system, although the same system can cause unhappiness and frustration amongst more liberal Danes. Achieving FI is definately more challenging in Denmark because of the high taxes – case in point; I graduated from the university with the 3rd highest GPA requirements in Denmark three years ago, and I take home about $35K after taxes each year.

        Unfortunately, I wouldn’t characterize myself as consistently happy. I’m 31 years old with a 2-year old and another one on the way. As you know, the years with small children are generally the most stressful and unhappy of our lives, and I definately find life with children, mortgages, and full time employment challenging at times. I would probably award myself a 6 on the happiness scale of 1-10 – however I still wouldn’t trade it for anything (although I occasionally dream of relocating to a place with lower taxes and better weather).

        1. Don’t fell bad. I am the most educated of all of my siblings and most likely make the least amount of money. I work in education.

        2. Thanks for sharing. Being consistently happy is tough. Also, it’s hard to have perspective on how great things are in Denmark if that’s where you’ve lived and work all your life.

          I hear you on the difficulties of raising small children… just gotta gut it out the first 5 years! Hang in there! We got this!

          I enjoyed eating the pickled fish while in Copenhagen :)

          1. Big challenge I’ve found with managing field operations in European countries with broad social welfare programs supported by high taxation is its very difficult (like bordering impossible) to find people that want to over achieve. Not saying it’s wrong or right but interesting to see how society changes based on taxation and social programs.

            If the Jones aren’t progressing I guess there’s nobody to keep up with…, might as well let off the gas?

  14. Sam, it would be interesting to also have the tax tables for the state taxes and see if the ideal incomes still hold. For example, here in California, you go up from 9.3% to 10.3% at greater than $299,500 ; so that would become the ideal income.

    1. The salt tax deduction is a handout to the top 1% elite.

      Lifting the cap on the SALT deduction would massively favor the rich, with most of the benefit going to the top one percent
      Lifting the cap would in fact give almost three times as much, as a share of the cut, to the top one percent as the TCJA cuts did as a whole (of course the absolute amount is very much less)
      Even with the cap, the SALT deduction remains pro-rich, with around three-quarters of the benefit going to families in the top fifth of the income distribution
      1. Lifting the SALT cap would be massive tax cut for rich

      Who would benefit from removing the cap on the SALT deduction? The rich – especially the very rich. Almost all (96 percent) of the benefits of SALT cap repeal would go to the top quintile (giving an average tax cut of $2,640); 57 percent would benefit the top one percent (a cut of $33,100); and 25 percent would benefit the top 0.1 percent (for an average tax cut of nearly $145,000). The remaining four percent of the benefit of removing the cap would go the middle class (i.e. middle 60 percent), for an average annual tax cut of a little less than $27.

      1. Even as an income limited person, it doesn’t take a lot to reach the salt limit. 8K in property tax alone, with CA income tax makes me exceed the limit. I’d still like to see it stay in place though.

  15. Please include all of the same information and analysis for those of us who file as Head of Household. I’m a single-mom-by-choice. I’d argue HoH filers need this information more than anyone, as we are the ones trying to raise kids on truly one income!

  16. Interested to how reinstatement of at least partial SALT deduction as being talked about may impact above discussion.

      1. Everyone looks forward to any changes that personally benefit them – that is human nature. This reminds me of the tax credit that buyers of Tesla Model S received. No one purchasing a vehicle for over $100,000 needed a government subsidy to make that purchase. Worse yet, Tesla, being the only name in luxury electric vehicles at the time, had little incentive to lower the price either.

        1. Any time the government gets involved in something the price goes up. Look what they’ve doing for tuition and medical costs.

      2. I think if one chooses to live in a high tax state, then it can certainly help to equalize the tax bite for many income levels in those states, in particular high incomes. As a nation we need to equalize this tax situation a bit, as its been for many years prior to 2017 TCJA otherwise you will have even more people than already are leaving CA, NY, NJ for states like TX, FL etc.

  17. NY Money Hawk

    Very interesting article, thanks for sharing the updated brackets! Up until recently I’ve mainly been focused on keeping taxable income low to reduce my current rate, leveraging pre-tax investing for myself and my wife. But I wish I had some Roth invested long ago when I started out and my income was lower so your recommendation of Roth IRA for kids and lower wage earners hits home. I can keep in mind for my children.

    Now I’m starting to also think about what happens when I am retired and how do I maximize the lower brackets at that point and capital gains at zero or low rates, so having some more after tax brokerage investments and Roth to help with that and optimize the mix. I live in NY where there are high property taxes and income tax (like you in CA) so also looking forward to some SALT deductions if that passes.

  18. Wouldn’t your “ideal income” to minimize taxes be higher when factoring in the standard deduction.

    You say $83,551 for a married couple but isn’t that really $83,551+ $25,900 = $109,451?

  19. Thanks for the post, can you also please highlight the ideal income info for Head of households?

  20. I was just starting to wonder about this – thanks for the info! I’m hoping tax rates won’t go up any higher. Glad to hear the gift tax exemption has finally gone up though. I’m also very curious to see if the estate tax limit gets slashed next year or if it will continue until it’s planned expiration.

  21. As a family who’s wages are all earned income, we don’t qualify for most deductions the self employed, corporations and businesses get, the more we increase our cash flow, the more taxes we pay. It’s disheartening.

      1. I don’t think there is an ideal income. I’ve two daughters, I want them to have income thru investments, so they can take time off to stay at home, when they choose to start a family. They have also chosen professions that won’t pay as much as what my hubby makes, but that’s ok. They have a much happier life than the stereotypical Indian doctor

      2. “ The New Ideal Income For Maximum Happiness”

        There is no such thing as an idea income for Maximum happiness! The maximum net worth happiness will allow me not to worry about money for the next 1000 years!! I can focus on my hobbies, travel around the world without “silly restrictions” and utilize my time on other fulfilling activities!!!

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