By Steve Julal
With the end of the calendar year fast approaching, now is a good time to double check your federal withholding to make sure enough taxes are being taken out of your pay.
Most people have taxes withheld from each paycheck or pay taxes on a quarterly basis through estimated tax payments. But each year millions of American workers have far more taxes withheld from their pay than is required. In fact, according to the IRS, the average individual income tax refund for Fiscal Year 2016 was about $3,050. As such, taxpayers might want to consider adjusting their tax withholding to bring the taxes they must pay closer to what they actually owe — and put more money in their pocket right now.
On the flip side, is that some workers and retirees still need to take steps to make sure enough tax is being taken out of their checks to avoid penalties they might have to pay. Certain taxpayers should pay particular attention to their withholding.
- Married couples with two incomes
- Individuals with multiple jobs
- Some Social Security recipients who work
- Workers who do not have valid Social Security numbers
- Retirees who receive pension payments
Whether you’re starting a new job, retiring, or self-employed here is some information to help bring the taxes you pay during the year closer to what you will actually owe when you file your tax return.
New Job. When you start a new job your employer will ask you to complete Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. Your employer will use this form to figure the amount of federal income tax to withhold from your paychecks. Be sure to complete the Form W-4 accurately.
Life Event. You may want to change your Form W-4 when certain life events happen to you during the year. Examples of events in your life that can change the amount of taxes you owe include a change in your marital status, the birth of a child, getting or losing a job, and purchasing a home. Keep your Form W-4 up-to-date.
You typically can submit a new Form W–4 at any time you wish to change the number of your withholding allowances. However, if your life event results in the need to decrease your withholding allowances or changes your marital status from married to single, you must give your employer a new Form W-4 within 10 days of that life event.
Form 1040-ES. If you are self-employed and expect to owe $1,000 or more in taxes for the year, then you normally must make estimated tax payments to pay your income tax, Social Security and Medicare taxes. You can use the worksheet in Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals, to find out if you are required to pay estimated tax on a quarterly basis. Remember to make estimated payments to avoid owing taxes at tax time.