Federal Income Tax Calculator: Tax Return and Refund Estimator (2023-2024)
Estimate how much you'll owe in federal income taxes for tax year 2023, using your income, deductions and credits — all in just a few steps with our tax calculator.
Our free income tax calculator tool is meant to help you estimate how much you might expect to either owe in federal taxes or receive as a refund when filing your 2023 tax return in 2024. It uses the information you provide — such as your income, filing status, age, taxes withheld, and additional deductions or credits you plan to claim — to arrive at a rough estimate.
How to fill out this income tax calculator
Filing status: Choose from one of the four tax filing statuses available (single, head of household, married filing separately, or married filing jointly). Your filing status helps to determine which deductions and credits you can claim.
Income: In this field, enter your expected total household income before taxes. Include wages, tips, commission, income earned from interest, dividends, investments, rental income, retirement distributions, unemployment compensation and Social Security benefits.
Age: Enter the age you will be on Jan. 1, 2024. Your age can have an effect on certain tax rules or deductions. For example, people aged 65 or older get a higher standard deduction.
Dependents: Enter your number of dependents. Dependents can make you eligible for various tax breaks, such as the child tax credit, head of household filing status and other deductions or credits.
401(k) contributions: Enter any pre-tax contributions you made to a traditional 401(k) account. In 2023, the maximum 401(k) contribution is $22,500 per individual, or $30,000 for those 50 or older. These contributions may reduce your taxable income.
Traditional IRA: Enter contributions made to a traditional IRA. In 2023, the contribution limit is $6,500 ($7,500 for those aged 50 or older). An important note: Contributing to a traditional IRA may not have any immediate tax benefits if your income exceeds a threshold set by the IRS and you or your spouse are also covered by a 401(k).
Withheld: Enter how much your employer has withheld on your behalf, or how much you have paid in estimated taxes. If you're unsure, estimate. You will still get insights into how much you may owe.
Deductions: In the upper-right-hand corner of the tool, select either “standard deduction” or “itemized deductions.” Most Americans claim the standard deduction, which we’ve pre-filled. If you’re not one of them, change that number to the sum of your itemized deductions. (But exclude the 401(k) and traditional IRA contributions you previously entered.)
Tax credits: Enter how much you expect to claim in tax credits on your return. Common tax credits include the child tax credit, the child and dependent care credit, the earned income credit, the EV credit, and the American opportunity credit.
Other deductions and deferrals: In this field, enter any other contributions made throughout the year not accounted for elsewhere. In this section, you can also check whether you are legally blind — and if filing jointly, you can enter your spouse’s age if 65 or older as well as if they are legally blind. This can increase the standard deduction amount you’re entitled to.
How this federal tax calculator works
To estimate your taxable income, we take the gross income entered into the “income field” and then subtract applicable tax deductions and adjustments, such as 401(k) contributions, HSA contributions, and your standard or itemized deductions, among other factors, to determine taxable income.
Then, we apply the appropriate tax bracket and rate(s) based on taxable income and filing status to calculate what amount in taxes the government expects you to pay. The calculator also takes into account tax credits, which can further reduce your tax bill.
If you have a simple tax situation and have filled out your W-4 correctly, taxes already withheld from your paychecks might cover that bill for the year. Likewise, if you’re a freelancer or a taxpayer who must pay estimated taxes, payments you made during the year might also cover your bill.
If it turns out that your tax withholding, payments, or any credits you qualify for did not cover your liability, you may need to pay the rest at tax time. If you’ve paid too much, you’ll get a tax refund.
Our tax calculator’s default assumptions include:
A standard deduction, but you may change to itemized deductions in the “deductions” section.
Tax credit amounts entered are assumed to be nonrefundable. Although a handful of credits can result in a refund of the overage, we do not account for this in our calculations.
The rules for whether a traditional IRA contribution is tax-deductible are complex, so this calculator assumes your IRA contributions are not tax-deductible if you already contribute to a 401(k).
Numbers entered in the “withheld” field include taxes withheld by your employer and/or any estimated taxes you have paid.
Remember that each person’s tax liability is influenced by their financial situation, as well as a number of other factors that may not be accounted for in this calculator. Quality tax software or a professional, such as a tax preparer or a CPA, can help you answer any questions about your specific tax situation. Note that this calculator does not take into account state income taxes, another type of income tax you may have to account for when filing your tax return.
Key income tax calculator definitions
Form W-4: IRS Form W-4 is a tax document that employees submit to their employer upon being hired. The information an employee supplies on their W-4 helps employers calculate payroll taxes and how much tax to withhold on the employee’s paycheck throughout the year. The W-4, therefore, plays a central role in determining a person’s tax liability. A W-4 can be adjusted and reviewed as needed throughout the year.
Gross income: Gross income refers to the sum of all taxable income made by an individual throughout the year. Gross income can include wages, tips, income from investments, interest, or dividends, business earnings, retirement distributions, unemployment compensation and a certain percentage of Social Security benefits.
Adjusted gross income (AGI): Your adjusted gross income is your gross income minus certain adjustments known as “above-the-line deductions.” These subtractions include eligible contributions made to a retirement account, such as a traditional 401(k), eligible contributions made to a health savings account, as well as any deductible student loan interest payments.
Taxable income: Your taxable income is your AGI after the standard deduction or itemized deductions are applied. This is the number the IRS uses to determine your tax liability.
Deductions: A tax deduction is a type of tax benefit that reduces taxable income by the deduction amount, thereby lowering the amount of income considered taxable. There are two categories of tax deductions: above-the-line and below-the-line.
Above-the-line deductions: Contributions to a retirement account, health savings account contributions or student loan interest payments are deductions or "adjustments" subtracted from your gross income to determine your adjusted gross income.
Below-the-line deductions: Below-the-line deductions are subtracted from your AGI to arrive at taxable income. There are two types: the standard deduction or itemized deductions. The IRS allows you to take either one, but you cannot take both.
Standard deduction: The standard deduction is a flat reduction in adjusted gross income that most taxpayers qualify for. The exact amount you can reduce your AGI by is determined by your tax filing status, and certain people, such as those 65 or older, get a higher standard deduction. The standard deduction amounts are adjusted each year to keep up with the pace of inflation.
Itemized deductions: Itemized deductions are individual IRS-approved deductions that taxpayers can subtract from their AGI to lower their taxable income. Common examples of itemized deductions include qualified charitable contributions, the SALT deduction for property taxes, sales tax or state and local tax, and the mortgage interest deduction. Those who itemize do so because the value of their individual deductions exceeds the benefit of their allotted standard deduction.
Tax credit: A tax credit is a type of tax benefit that allows those who qualify for it to lower their tax bill by the value of the tax credit. Eligibility for tax credits can depend on income, tax-filing status, and other qualifications. Credits can be refundable, nonrefundable, or partially refundable.
Tax dependent: A tax dependent is a qualifying child or relative whose specific relationship to the taxpayer allows them to be claimed on that person's tax return. The IRS has several rules that can help taxpayers determine whether someone is a dependent.
Tax-filing status: The IRS recognizes five different types of tax-filing statuses that people can use to fill out their tax forms and file their tax returns: single, head of household, qualified widow/er, married filing jointly, and married filing separately. Choosing the right status is important because it can have an impact on tax liability, which credits and deductions can be used, and other tax considerations.
Tax withholding: Tax withholding is a term used to describe the various taxes that are taken out of an employee's paycheck. How much federal and state tax an employer withholds largely depends on earnings and how the Form W-4 is filled out. If too little is withheld, this could result in a tax bill. If too much is withheld, this could result in a tax refund.
Tax rates and brackets: There are seven federal income tax rates: 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35% and 37%. Your taxable income and filing status determine which tax brackets and rates apply to you.
Marginal tax rate: The marginal tax rate is the tax rate paid on your highest dollar of taxable income. This typically equates to your top tax bracket.
Effective tax rate: Effective tax rate refers to the percentage of your income that you pay in taxes.
Frequently asked questions
How do I find my income tax bracket?
The United States taxes income progressively. Generally speaking, this means that your income is divided into portions called tax brackets, and each portion is taxed at a specific tax rate. High earners pay more in taxes, as portions of their income are subject to higher tax rates.
Here are the tax brackets for the 2023 tax year (taxes filed in 2024):
When should I itemize deductions vs. taking the standard deduction?
Deciding how to take your deductions — that is, how much to subtract from your adjusted gross income, thus reducing your taxable income — can make a huge difference in your tax bill. But making that decision isn’t always easy.
The standard deduction is a flat reduction in your adjusted gross income, the amount determined by Congress and meant to keep up with inflation. Nearly 90% of filers take it, because it makes the tax-prep process quick and easy. People 65 or older are eligible for a higher standard deduction. Here are the standard deduction amounts for the 2023 tax year.
2023 standard deduction
Married, filing separately
Married, filing jointly; qualified widow/er
Head of household
People who itemize tend to do so because their deductions add up to more than the standard deduction, saving them money. The IRS allows you to deduct a litany of expenses from your income, but record-keeping is key — you need to be able to prove, usually with receipts, that the expenses you’re deducting are valid. This means effort, but it might also mean savings.
How do deductions and credits work?
Both reduce your tax bill but in different ways. Tax credits directly reduce the amount of tax you owe, dollar for dollar. A tax credit valued at $1,000, for instance, lowers your tax bill by $1,000.
Tax deductions, on the other hand, reduce how much of your income is subject to taxes. Deductions lower your taxable income by the percentage of your highest federal income tax bracket. For example, if you fall into the 25% tax bracket, a $1,000 deduction saves you $250.
» Learn more: 20 popular tax deductions and credits
I might get a big tax refund! Awesome, right?
Don’t get too excited— this could be a sign that you’re having too much tax withheld from your paycheck and living on less of your earnings all year. You can use Form W-4 to reduce your withholding easily now so you don’t have to wait for the government to give you your money back later.
Oh no! I can’t pay this estimated tax bill! What do I do?
You can sign up for a payment plan on the IRS website. There are several to choose from, and they can provide peace of mind. Here’s how IRS installment plans work, plus some other options for paying a big tax bill.
Next steps: Tax filing resources and help
Need some help getting started? We have you covered. These NerdWallet articles can point you toward: