Www
Photo: John Morgan, Flickr.

If you applied for a tax-filing extension back in April, your ultimate deadline for your 2013 tax return is likely approaching: Oct. 15, 2014 is when most extension-granted returns are due to be filed. For those who filed on time, the big deadline for our 2014 tax return is April 15, 2015. Whether you're a late or on-time filer, the 2013 and 2014 tax tables below can help as you prepare your return.

2013 and 2014 tax tables
Many people find themselves asking, "What tax bracket am I in?" The IRS lays out its brackets each year and also issues long tax tables. Here are the brackets for 2013, for the late filers:

2013 Brackets

Single Filers

Married Filing Jointly/Qualifying Widow(er)

Married Filing Separately

Head of Household

10%

Up to $8,925

Up to $17,850

Up to $8,925

Up to $12,750

15%

$8,926-$36,250

$17,851-72,500

$8,926-$36,250

$12,751-$48,600

25%

$36,251-$87,850

$72,501-$146,400

$36,251-$73,200

$48,601-$125,450

28%

$87,851-$183,250

$146,401-$223,050

$73,201-$111,525

$125,451-$203,150

33%

$183,251-
$398,350

$223,051-$398,350

$111,526-$199,175

$203,151-$398,350

35%

$398,351-
$400,000

$398,351-$450,000

$199,176-$225,000

$398,351-$425,000

39.6%

$400,001 or more

$450,001 or more

$225,001 or more

$425,001 or more

And here are the 2014 tax tables and brackets that we'll refer to as we prepare and file our 2014 tax returns in April of 2015:

2014 Brackets

Single Filers

Married Filing Jointly/Qualifying Widow(er)

Married Filing Separately

Head of Household

10%

up to $9,075

up to $18,150

up to $9,075

up to $12,950

15%

$9,076 -$36,900

$18,151-$73,800

$9,076-$36,900

$12,951-$49,400

25%

$36,901-$89,350

$73,801-$148,850

$36,901-$74,425

$49,401-$127,550

28%

$89,351-$186,350

$148,851-$226,850

$74,426-$113,425

$127,551-$206,600

33%

$186,351-$405,100

$226,851-$405,100

$113,426-$202,550

$206,601-$405,100

35%

$405,101-$406,750

$405,101-$457,600

$202,551-$228,800

$405,101-$432,200

39.6%

$406,751 or more

$457,601 or more

$228,801 or more

$432,201 or more

2013 and 2014 tax tables and your effective tax rate
But wait! If you don't look closely enough at these tables, or if you draw a hasty conclusion from some other 2014 tax tables, you might think that if you're, say, single and earning $40,000, that your tax rate is 25% for 2014. Well, in a sense it is, but that's not the overall tax rate that you'll pay. Take a closer look at these 2014 tax tables, and you'll see that 25% is the rate you're taxed on just some of your income -- the amount between $36,901 and $40,000. You're taxed at a much lower rate of 15% on your income between $9,076 and $36,900. And your taxable earnings from zero to $9,075? The tax hit is a mere 10%.

Your effective tax rate is significantly less than 25%. That's just your marginal rate. To arrive at your effective rate, you divide your total tax due by your taxable earnings. You can accomplish that by referencing the 2013 or 2014 tax tables above or by referring to the detailed tax tables that the IRS releases each year. The detailed 2014 tax tables aren't available yet, so let's look at the 2013 tables (link opens PDF), imagining that we're single with a taxable income of $40,000. Zero in on that income, and you'll see a tax bill of $5,935. Divide that by $40,000, and presto -- the effective rate is 14.8%. If you pulled in twice that, $80,000, then you owed $15,935, or 19.9%. This is a "progressive" design by which those who earn more are taxed at higher rates.

You can check out the detailed 2014 tax tables when they're released later in the year. One place they usually appear is in the instruction publications for the 1040EZ, 1040A, and 1040 forms, which will be available on the IRS website's Forms & Publications page.

When you next file your tax return, know that your tax rate may not be as bad as it seems.

Bonus tax tip: Take advantage of this little-known tax "loophole"
Recent tax increases have affected nearly every American taxpayer. But with the right planning, you can take steps to take control of your taxes and potentially even lower your tax bill. In our brand-new special report "The IRS Is Daring You to Make This Investment Now!," you'll learn about the simple strategy to take advantage of a little-known IRS rule. Don't miss out on advice that could help you cut taxes for decades to come. Click here to learn more.

Longtime Fool specialist Selena Maranjian, whom you can follow on Twitter, has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.