If you received a large refund after filing your 2017 income tax return, you’re probably enjoying the influx of cash. You may have had a hefty bill as well. Ideally your tax return should have you just about even with the government, no large refund and no big bill. It’s almost impossible to come out square but being only a couple hundred dollars off one way or another is pretty good. If you aren’t close you might want to consider adjusting your withholding. That process is a little more complicated for 2018.
The TCJA and Withholding
To reflect changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) — such as the increase in the standard deduction, suspension of personal exemptions and changes in tax rates and brackets — the IRS updated the withholding tables that indicate how much employers should hold back from their employees’ paychecks, generally reducing the amount withheld.
The new tables may provide the correct amount of tax withholding for individuals with simple tax situations, but they might cause other taxpayers to not have enough withheld to pay their ultimate tax liabilities under the TCJA. So even if you received a large refund this year, you could end up owing a significant amount of tax when you file your 2018 return next year.
Perils of the New Tables
The IRS itself cautions that people with more complex tax situations face the possibility of having their income taxes under withheld. If, for example, you itemize deductions, have dependents age 17 or older, are in a two-income household or have more than one job, you should review your tax situation and adjust your withholding if appropriate.
The IRS has updated its withholding calculator (available at irs.gov) to assist taxpayers in reviewing their situations. The calculator reflects changes in available itemized deductions, the increased child tax credit, the new dependent credit and repeal of dependent exemptions.
Tax law changes aren’t the only reason to check your withholding. Additional reviews during the year are a good idea if:
- You get married or divorced,
- You add or lose a dependent,
- You purchase a home,
- You start or lose a job, or
- Your investment income changes significantly.
You can modify your withholding at any time during the year, or even multiple times within a year. To do so, you simply submit a new Form W-4 to your employer. Changes typically will go into effect several weeks after the new Form W-4 is submitted. (For estimated tax payments, you can make adjustments each time quarterly payments are due.)
The TCJA and Your Tax SituationIf you rely solely on the new withholding tables, you could run the risk of significantly under withholding your federal income taxes. As a result, you might face an unexpectedly high tax bill when you file your 2018 tax return next year. Contact your personal tax accountant for more information on the new withholding tables.