IRS says a Paycheck Checkup helps avoid tax surprises
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service is reminding taxpayers that using the IRS Tax Withholding Estimator to do a Paycheck Checkup can help them have the right amount of tax withheld and avoid surprises when filing next year.
Because income taxes are pay-as-you-go, taxpayers are required by law to pay most of their tax as income is received. There are two ways to do this:
- Through withholding from paychecks, pension payments, Social Security benefits or certain other government payments.
- Making quarterly estimated tax payments throughout the year for income not subject to withholding.
Income tax withholding is generally based on the worker’s expected filing status and standard deduction. The Tax Withholding Estimator is a tool on IRS.gov designed to help taxpayers determine how to have the right amount of tax withheld from their paychecks. It offers workers, retirees, self-employed individuals and other taxpayers a clear, step-by-step method to help determine if there is a need to adjust their withholding and submit a new Form W-4 to their employer. The latest update of the Tax Withholding Estimator provides detailed explanations to withholding recommendations on the Results Page.
When to do a Paycheck Check-up
Taxpayers should check their withholding annually and when life changes occur, such as marriage, childbirth, adoption and buying a home. The IRS recommends anyone who changed their withholding this year or received a tax bill after they filed their 2019 return should do a Paycheck Checkup.
Taxpayers with a substantial portion of their income not subject to withholding − the self-employed, investors, retirees, those with interest, dividends, capital gains, alimony and rental income − often need to pay quarterly installments of estimated tax.
The IRS reminds taxpayers that various financial transactions, especially late in the year, can often have an unexpected tax impact. Examples include year-end and holiday bonuses, stock dividends, capital gain distributions from mutual funds and stocks, bonds, virtual currency, real estate or other property sold at a profit.
Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals, includes instructions to help taxpayers figure their estimated taxes. They can also visit IRS.gov/payments to pay electronically. IRS offers two free electronic payment options where taxpayers can schedule their estimated federal tax payments up to 30 days in advance with IRS Direct Pay or up to 365 days in advance with the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS).