2021 cost-of-living adjustment: what do the numbers mean for you?

Updated: Nov 17, 2020



The IRS has announced its 2021 cost-of-living adjustments to tax amounts that might affect you. Many increased to account for inflation, but some remained at 2020 levels. As you implement 2020 year-end tax planning strategies, be sure to take these 2021 adjustments into account in your planning.


Also, keep in mind that, under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), annual inflation adjustments are calculated using the chained consumer price index (also known as C-CPI-U). This increases tax bracket thresholds, the standard deduction, certain exemptions and other figures at a slower rate than was the case with the consumer price index previously used, potentially pushing taxpayers into higher tax brackets and making various breaks worth less over time. The TCJA adopted the C-CPI-U on a permanent basis.


Individual income taxes

Tax-bracket thresholds increase for each filing status but, because they’re based on percentages, they increase more significantly for the higher brackets. For example, the top of the 10% bracket increases by $75 to $150, depending on filing status, but the top of the 35% bracket increases by $3,125 to $6,250, again depending on filing status.