Do I Have to Pay Taxes on Bank Account Interest?

Advertiser Disclosure

Our readers always come first

The content on DollarSprout includes links to our advertising partners. When you read our content and click on one of our partners’ links, and then decide to complete an offer — whether it’s downloading an app, opening an account, or some other action — we may earn a commission from that advertiser, at no extra cost to you.

Our ultimate goal is to educate and inform, not lure you into signing up for certain offers. Compensation from our partners may impact what products we cover and where they appear on the site, but does not have any impact on the objectivity of our reviews or advice.

The amount you owe in taxes will depend on two factors: how much interest you earned and your tax bracket. We’ll break down how to find out how much you owe and how to reduce your tax bill.

Our mission at DollarSprout is to help readers improve their financial lives, and we regularly partner with companies that share that same vision. If a purchase or signup is made through one of our Partners’ links, we may receive compensation for the referral. Learn more here.

The money that you earn from your savings account is just gravy on top of what you’ve already saved.

It feels like free money. That’s why it can be such a shock when you find out that yes — paying taxes on interest is something you need to do.

The amount you actually owe in taxes will depend on two factors: how much interest you earned and your tax bracket. We’ll break down how to find out how much you owe and how to reduce your tax bill so you don’t have to worry about paying taxes on interest.

That way, your taxable interest won’t give you any surprises come April 15.

What is Taxable Interest Income?

It may not seem like you’re earning a significant amount from your savings account. But collectively speaking, that’s a lot of money the IRS is missing out on every year among all Americans who pay taxes.

That’s why the IRS requires you to report — and pay taxes on — the interest that you earn from your bank accounts. The IRS treats that money exactly the same as if your employer paid it to you in the form of wages.

How much interest income do I have to report?

Knowing how much interest is taxable is easy: all of it is taxable.

If you file a tax return at all, you’ll also need to report the interest you’ve earned on your bank accounts.

Your bank makes this easy for you. It’ll send you Form 1099-INT at the end of the year if you’ve earned more than $10 in interest. This form specifies exactly how much interest you’ve earned. That way, you don’t have to tally it up yourself. Simply report this number on your tax return, and you’ll be all set.

Even if your bank doesn’t send you a Form 1099-INT because you earned less than $10 in interest, you still need to report any interest income on your tax return.

How the tax rate affects your savings account interest

Your tax rate will depend on two things: your income for the year and how much interest you earned on your accounts.

Your income determines which tax bracket you fall into.

For 2021, here are the income tax brackets based on your filing status:

Single Filers
Tax Rate Taxable Income Bracket
10% $0 to $9,950
12% $9,951 to $40,525
22% $40,526 to $86,375
24% $86,376 to $164,925
32% $164,926 to $209,425
35% $209,426 to $523,600
37% $523,601 or more
Married, Filing Jointly (or Qualifying Widower)
Tax Rate Taxable Income Bracket
10% $0 to $19,900
12% $19,901 to $81,050
22% $81,051 to $172,750
24% $172,751 to $329,850
32% $329,851 to $418,850
35% $418,851 to $628,300
37% $628,301 or more
Married, Filing Separately
Tax Rate Taxable Income Bracket
10% $0 to $9,950
12% $9,951 to $40,525
22% $40,526 to $86,375
24% $86,376 to $164,925
32% $164,926 to $209,425
35% $209,426 to $314,150
37% $314,151 or more
Head of Household
Tax Rate Taxable Income Bracket
10% $0 to $14,200
12% $14,201 to $54,200
22% $54,201 to $86,350
24% $86,351 to $164,900
32% $164,901 to $209,400
35% $209,401 to $523,600
37% $523,601 or more

To find out how much you’ll owe in savings account interest tax, you need to find out which tax bracket you fall into. Multiply your interest income by your tax rate to calculate how much you’ll owe in taxes from that interest.

For example, let’s say that Jim and Pam earn $75,000 per year together from their day jobs. They file their taxes jointly, so this puts them in the 12% tax bracket. Let’s also say they earned $200 in interest from their high-yield savings account.

To calculate their bank account interest tax, they’d simply multiply $200 by 0.12, which would equal $24. Jim and Pam would owe an extra $24 on their taxes as a result of their bank account interest.

As you can see, even if you fall into a higher tax bracket, you probably won’t owe a huge amount of money on your bank account interest. Most people don’t earn much interest to begin with. Even if the fraction you owe in taxes is large, the overall tax due probably won’t be.

How to Avoid Paying Tax on Savings Account Interest

couple reviewing bank statements

Still, if you’d rather not pay any extra taxes on that money, or if by chance you really did strike it big with your interest income, there are many ways you can lower your tax bill so you don’t even have to worry about paying taxes on interest.

Each of these methods relies on lowering your overall tax bill — not your taxable interest specifically. By lowering your overall tax bill, you can cancel out any taxes you may have owed as a result of your taxable interest income.

Even if you don’t have to pay any bank account interest tax at all, you can still use these techniques to lower your overall tax bill and maybe even get a tax refund.

Contribute to a traditional IRA

Traditional IRAs are excellent savings accounts to use for retirement. Plus, any money you put into them now can be written off on your taxes. You can contribute up to $6,000 to your traditional IRA in 2020. If you’re 50 years of age or older, your contribution limit is capped at $7,000.

So if you earned $50,000 during the year and contribute the maximum amount for people under age 50, you only need to pay taxes on $44,000 worth of income. And that’s not including any other deductions you may qualify for.

There are some limits to this, however. If your workplace offers you a retirement plan and you earn more than the maximum threshold ($65,000 for single filers or heads of households, $124,000 for couples filing jointly or widowers), then you’ll only be able to deduct a part of your traditional IRA contributions.

Similarly, if only your spouse is covered by a workplace retirement plan, those deductions start being phased out at $196,000 if you file taxes jointly.

Workplace retirement plans

If your workplace offers a retirement plan such as a 401(k), a 403(b), a 457, or a Thrift Savings Plan, you can also lower your taxable income by contributing to these accounts. For 2020, you can contribute up to $19,500 to these accounts.

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

If you are covered by a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP), an HSA is another great way to lower your tax bill. These accounts let you set money away for certain health care expenses such as doctor’s visits, prescription medicine, lab tests, and surgeries.

More importantly, any money you put into an HSA can be deducted from your taxable income. For 2020, you can contribute up to $3,550 for a single person or $7,100 for a family.

Bank Account Interest Tax FAQs

These answers to commonly asked questions about bank account interest taxes should help clear your final concerns on the matter.

Will I automatically owe money when I file my tax return if I earned interest during the year?

Not necessarily. A tax return only settles the bill for the taxes you’ve already been paying throughout the year, either via your employer or your quarterly estimated taxes, if you’re self-employed.

If you overpaid your taxes throughout the year, that overpayment may cover any taxes due from your interest income. It’s even possible that you’ll still receive a tax refund if you overpaid by a high enough amount.

Do my children need to pay taxes for interest they earned on their savings account?

Probably not. The IRS only requires unemployed children to file a tax return if their interest and investment income is over $2,100 per year. That’s much more interest than most people earn.

Even then, if your child earns more than that amount but less than $10,500, you can opt to include that income on your own tax return rather than having your child file a separate return.

Will I owe taxes on new account bonuses?

If you earned a bonus for opening a new savings or checking account, you will owe money on this income as well.

The IRS views this the same as interest income. Your bank will include this bonus amount in the Form 1099-INT that it sends you at the end of the year.

Always Pay Your Taxes When They’re Due

Paying taxes on your taxable interest doesn’t have to throw a wrench in your plans.

Even though you do have to pay taxes on this income, most people will only owe a small amount in taxes. That’s because most people just don’t earn much interest on bank accounts.

Paying taxes on interest is inevitable. The most important thing is to file your tax return and pay your tax bill by the tax deadline. One thing’s for sure: you won’t want to pay any tax penalties as a result of filing or paying your taxes late. Late fees would likely be more than the amount you actually owe in savings account interest tax itself.

Lindsay VanSomeren

Lindsay is a personal finance expert and writer based in Washington state. After graduating with two degrees in Wildlife Biology and Conservation, Lindsay found herself underemployed and $100,000 in debt. She has since learned how to manage money wisely and uses her experience to help others make smart financial decisions. Today, her work appears on sites like Credit Karma, Magnify Money, Wisebread, Centsai, Discover, and Chime Bank.

Jeff Wheeler
Jeff Wheeler

No online articles answer this question: For a single person whose entire income is from social security benefits (less than $25,000, and thus nontaxable income), what would be the maximum amount of bank interest (that being the only other income source) that would be nontaxable; or in other words, wherein we don’t need to file a tax return because it’s below a level we’d owe any taxes on? Would that level be, for example, a maximum of $25000 of bank interest income, that we’d not owe any tax on for reporting year 2022?

The IRS only requires such an individual to file a return if their gross eligible (in this case interest) income reaches $14,700 for 2022. Basically, you wouldn’t have to file a return unless your savings assets, outside of your social security payments, were generating more than $14,700 in earned interest each year.

Leave your comment

You May Also Like