The White-rumped Tanager is found mostly in east central South America. It is distributed from eastern Bolivia east across central Brazil in Mato Grosso, southeastern Pará, and Goiás to central Maranhão, Ceará, Piauí and interior Bahia. To the south, it occurs south to São Paulo, west into north central Paraguay. Additional, there are several apparently isolated populations outside of the "core" distribution. These include populations in Suriname (Renssen 1974, Haverschmidt and Mees 1994), where it is "only known from savannas in southern and western Suriname" (Ottema et al. 2009). There is a single sight record from French Guyana (Tostain et al. 1992). White-rumped Tanager also occurs in southern Amapá, Brazil (Novaes 1978). Also occurs on campinas in Amazonian Brazil, such as at Humaitá on the west bank of the Rio Madeira in Amazonas, Brazil (Hellmayr 1907, 1910) and perhaps elsewhere.
In Brazil, they occur at elevations up to 1000-1100 m (Isler and Isler 1999, Ridgely and Tudor 2009), and in Bolivia, they are found up to 700 m (Isler and Isler 1999). White-rumped Tanagers live within the Cerrado subregion of the Central South American zoogeographic region (Parker et al. 1996).