Withholding Feed

A big part of companies' federal tax responsibilities is paying employment taxes for their workers. These are the Social Security, Medicare and unemployment taxes on those employees' wages. However, when it comes to workers who are hired as contractors, it's the worker who's totally responsible for these taxes, in addition income tax withholding via estimated tax payments. That's why, when appropriate and fiscally feasible, many firms try to hire independent contractors. Sometimes, though, the line between employees and contractor is fine. It's facts and circumstances in each case when deciding how to classify a worker. And if the Internal Revenue... Read more →


High tax filing season is over and the numbers have been tallied. Unfortunately for Republicans who still are fighting the public relations war over their major tax reform law, the figures aren't good. Yes, fractionally more money has been delivered to taxpayers through April 21, almost a week after the filing deadline for most U.S taxpayers. But the average refund check remains smaller than it was last year. In 2018, the average refund was $2,780. This year, it came to $2,725. In case you're not good at math in your head (I'm not) and don't have a calculator handy, that's... Read more →


Broad City image via Giphy.com Do you have to file a return? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the answer usually is yes. But there's a difference between having to file a tax return and submitting a 1040 form because you should. And by should, I mean when it's to your advantage to do so. Yes, that does happen in the tax world now and then. When filing is required: First, though, let's look at when the tax code says we must send the Internal Revenue Service a Form 1040. Although the 1040 has a new look... Read more →


We've got just more than three weeks before our 2018 tax returns are due, but most of us aren't in any hurry to complete this task. Through March 15, the Internal Revenue Service reports that it has received almost 76 million 2018 tax year returns. That's 2.5 percent fewer than this point in last year's filing season. In fact, the IRS latest filing season data shows that 9 of 12 tracked areas are still slightly behind last year's pace. Only visits to IRS.gov, tax returns directly e-filed by taxpayers and directly deposited refunds are up over 2018 numbers by 11.2... Read more →


It's taken a few weeks, four to be exact, but the 2019 tax season is finally catching up. The latest Internal Revenue Service filing season statistics show that while most categories that the agency tracks each filing season are still lagging 2018 figures, the differences are starting to shrink. And there's even better news for folks who are getting refunds. The average check amounts issued through Feb. 22 are dramatically larger than the week before. More notable, those average refund amounts have finally topped the averages of year ago. Unpleasant tax refund surprises: In case you haven't been following the... Read more →


Do you overwithhold to get an annual tax refund because money burns a hole in your pocket? (Photo by Matthew via Flickr) It's no secret that Americans like their tax refunds. The Internal Revenue Service for years has reported that most filers get at least some money back at tax-filing time. That refund data has fueled another annual debate. How to get people to adjust their withholding so that they get use of their money throughout the year in paychecks instead of having to wait for it in the form or a tax refund. As a tax journalist, I get... Read more →


By now, everyone knows that a lot of taxpayers are getting the worst news ever at filing time. They owe the U.S. Treasury money. We can debate the reasons for the unexpected tax bills ad infinitum. Withholding tables were rejiggered in 2018 following the changes in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Itemized deductions and exemptions were reduced or eliminated by that tax legislation. Taxpayers didn't adjust their withholding to get their paycheck amounts more in line with the new law. The bottom line is that more than the usual number of filers this year are going to have... Read more →


Most taxpayers every year end up getting refunds. But some folks are at the opposite end of the tax spectrum. They owe Uncle Sam at filing time. And some of those owing taxpayers end up in an even worse situation. Their tax bills are large enough that they also face added penalty charges. This filing season, though, those penalty-paying taxpayers could get a break. Tax underpayment penalty calculations: A tax penalty assessment usually occurs when wage earners don't have enough income tax withheld from paychecks or, if they have other income not subject to withholding, don't pay enough (or any)... Read more →


Today should be payday for hundreds of thousands of federal government workers. The partial government shutdown, however, means they're not getting their money. And even though the White House, Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service say that the 2019 filing season will open at the end of January as it has in years past and that refunds will be issued, there's no guarantee that things will go smoothly. We are, after all, talking about Uncle Sam's operations. Can IRS meet refund challenge? The IRS says it will recall "a significant portion" of its currently furloughed workforce to open tax season... Read more →


Hello 2019! I'm not sure we're ready for you, particularly when it comes to the major tax code changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). We'll deal with the real-life effects of the new tax laws for the first time when we file our 2018 returns. When that will be is still up in the air and depends on a resolution to the partial government shutdown. But even though Capitol Hill and many of Uncle Sam's offices remain in limbo, we taxpayers need to start now taking an up close and personal look at what the TCJA will... Read more →


There's one more day in 2018, but it's too late to adjust your withholding for this almost over tax year. Following enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), a lot of folks earlier this year should have tweaked the amount of federal taxes they have taken out of their paychecks. Those TCJA changes, which went into full effect for 2018, could mean some — OK, a lot; one estimate says 30 million — taxpayers could face an unexpected tax bill when they file their returns in 2019. If you discover in a few months that you're one of... Read more →


I'm getting a lot of feedback about the partial government shutdown, specifically about the pay status of Internal Revenue Service (and other federal) personnel who will report to work next week and those who are furloughed. More than 420,000 federal employees who will work will do so without pay, according to a report from the Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee. The additional 380,000 furloughed workers head home to wait out the closure, again without pay. Those 800,000 or so federal employees earn this week's By the Numbers honors. Many folks objected to my description in recent government shutdown blog... Read more →


Today is a great day for my mother. The Social Security Administration announced that she and her fellow Social Security recipients will get a get a 2.8 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in 2019. The 2019 COLA — the largest since the 3.6 percent bump in 2011 — means the average single retiree's federal retirement benefit will be $1,461 or $39 more a month than this year. My mom is thrilled. Those 30+ bucks will cover her monthly phone bill. Still stretching each month: Unfortunately, the upcoming benefits adjustment won't be enough to make up for more than a decade of... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service (and I and my fellow tax bloggers) have been noting the need for folks to get their payroll withholding amounts correct under the recent tax law changes. Reporting any adjustments, however, will continue to be done on the old Form W-4, since folks who help implement the forms alerted the IRS of the many issues they have with the proposed document. You followed the Internal Revenue Service's nagging advice and did a paycheck checkup. This, in case you aren't one of the checking taxpayers, is a look at your current payroll withholding to ensure that the... Read more →


If you're looking for a job to boost your holiday spending budget, the Internal Revenue Service might be able to help. I got the postcard shown above in today's mail. No, even though I write about taxes, I'm not special in the IRS' eyes — and that's fine with me. The taxman doesn't have to pay me any extra attention at all, ever! The postcard was addressed to "Resident" so all my neighbors got one. Probably most Austin area folks did, too. Seasonal hiring ritual: There's an IRS facility in the Texas capital and almost every year as the holidays... Read more →


Each year, the Internal Revenue Service assesses estimated tax penalties against millions of taxpayers. This added money typically is due the IRS when a taxpayer pays too little total tax during the year. The last time the IRS released complete estimated tax penalty data was three years ago. The federal tax agency said back then that the average estimated tax penalty, which is based on the interest rate charged by the IRS on unpaid tax, was about $130. Back in September 2015, the IRS said it was seeing more taxpayers run into the estimated tax penalty. The number jumped about... Read more →


Trees in September will see their first fall color. (Photo by Jonathan Bloy courtesy Bloy.net) Hello, September. It's nice to have you back. You are a month that offers mostly-welcome transitions. There are beginnings, as students start a new school year. Parents nationwide say "thank you!" There are endings, as summer gives way to fall's cooler temps and foliage changes. Those of us tired of heat waves want to know what took you so long!?! There are expectations, as the end of the year and its many holidays approach. It's never too early to start planning for these. My Christmas... Read more →


A Lyft ride sharing vehicle in Atlanta. (Photo by Daniel X. O'Neil via Flickr Creative Commons) Most U.S. workers meet their annual tax responsibilities via paycheck withholding. Here you give your boss the information needed to calculate just how much income tax should come out of each paycheck so that you're Goldilocks at tax-filing time, not owing the U.S. Treasury too much or too little. The sharing economy has thrown a wrench into this system. Lots of folks with traditional 9-to-5 jobs are hustling on the side to earn extra cash. Others have committed full-time to gig economy work. Job... Read more →


This family, with four generations shown here, likely will feel the effects of the new tax law. (Photo by Azoreg via Wikimedia Commons) Things get complicated when you have kids. Those complications are, well, even more complicated when it comes to tax filing. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) made a variety of changes, in effect at least for tax years 2018 through 2025, that will affect millions of parents. Here's a quick look at key tax changes for dependents. Exemptions are eliminated: Under prior law, personal and dependent exemptions were excellent. These tax breaks helped filers reduce income,... Read more →


Summer is winding down, but someone needs to tell the thermometers. Across much of country, it feels like the mercury is about to burst and everyone is doing everything they can to stay cool. Sorry, I can't help you beat the heat. But I do have eight tax moves you can make in this eighth month of 2018 — which, with all those 8s, makes that this week's By the Numbers figure — that might be able to help lower the heat you're feeling when it comes to taxes. 1. Adjust your withholding. I know. I nag remind y'all of... Read more →