Skip to main content

You are here

It’s a good time to check your withholding and make changes, if necessary

Due to the massive changes in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), the 2019 filing season resulted in surprises. Some filers who have gotten a refund in past years wound up owing money. The IRS reports that the number of refunds paid this year is down from last year — and the average refund is lower. As of May 10, 2019, the IRS paid out 101,590,000 refunds averaging $2,868. This compares with 102,582,000 refunds paid out in 2018 with an average amount of $2,940.

Of course, receiving a tax refund shouldn’t necessarily be your goal. It essentially means you’re giving the government an interest-free loan.

Law changes and withholding

Last year, the IRS updated the withholding tables that indicate how much employers should hold back from their employees’ paychecks. In general, the amount withheld was reduced. This was done to reflect changes under the TCJA — including the increase in the standard deduction, suspension of personal exemptions and changes in tax rates.

The new tables may have provided the correct amount of tax withholding for some individuals, but they might have caused other taxpayers to not have enough money withheld to pay their ultimate tax liabilities. 

Conduct a “paycheck checkup”

The IRS is cautioning taxpayers to review their tax situations for this year and adjust withholding, if appropriate.

Situations where changes are needed

There are a number of situations when you should check your withholding. In addition to tax law changes, the IRS recommends that you perform a checkup if you:

  • Adjusted your withholding in 2018, especially in the middle or later part of the year,
  • Owed additional tax when you filed your 2018 return,
  • Received a refund that was smaller or larger than expected,
  • Got married or divorced, had a child or adopted one,
  • Purchased a home, or
  • Had changes in income.

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 go into effect several weeks after a new Form W-4 is submitted. (For estimated tax payments, you can make adjustments each time quarterly estimated payments are due. The next payment is due on Monday, June 17.)

We can help

Contact us to discuss your specific situation and what you can do to remedy any shortfalls to minimize taxes due, as well as any penalties and interest. We can help you sort through whether or not you need to adjust your withholding. 

© 2019

William F. Fritts II, CPA, CVA, wfritts@sek.com

Kristi M. Glass, CPA, kglass@sek.com

Steven D. Lubart, CPA, slubart@sek.com

Luke C. Martin, CPA, lcmartin@sek.com

Information provided on the World Wide Web by Smith Elliott Kearns & Company, LLC is intended for reference only. The information contained herein is designed solely to provide guidance to the reader, and is not intended to be a substitute for the reader seeking personalized professional advice based on specific factual situations. Information on this web site does NOT constitute professional accounting, tax or legal advice and should not be interpreted as such. Although Smith Elliott Kearns & Company, LLC has made every reasonable effort to ensure that the information provided is accurate, Smith Elliott Kearns & Company, LLC, and its members, managers and staff, make no warranties, expressed or implied, on the information provided on this web site. The reader accepts the information as is and assumes all responsibility for the use of such information. All information contained on this web site is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in any form without the expressed, written consent of Smith Elliott Kearns & Company, LLC. All rights are reserved.