Got a big tax refund? Use IRS Withholding Calculator to boost take-home pay in 2018

Notice: Historical Content

This is an archival or historical document and may not reflect current law, policies or procedures.

IR-2018-163, Aug. 13, 2018

WASHINGTON — Taxpayers who received large refunds earlier this year may be able to get more of their money included in their paychecks during the rest of 2018 by using the Withholding Calculator on

According to the Internal Revenue Service, most taxpayers – more than seven out of 10 –  receive refunds averaging around $2,800. Typically, taxpayers who receive large refunds could receive more of their money throughout the year, rather than waiting until they file their tax return after the end of the year.

Tax reform has big impact

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, enacted in December, made major changes to the tax law. Any of these far-reaching changes could have an impact on the refund many taxpayers will receive when they file their 2018 tax return. The IRS encourages every employee, including those who typically receive big tax refunds, to do a “paycheck checkup” soon to ensure they have the appropriate amount of tax taken out of their pay.

TCJA changes that could have a big impact on tax refunds this year include:

  • Reduced tax rates and changed tax brackets.
  • Eliminated personal exemptions.
  • Increased standard deduction.
  • Expanded and increased Child Tax Credit.
  • A new credit for other dependents.
  • Some limited or discontinued deductions.

Do a ‘paycheck checkup’ soon

The IRS urges taxpayers to complete their “paycheck checkup” now so that if a withholding amount adjustment is necessary, there’s more time for withholding to take place evenly throughout the year. Waiting means there are fewer pay periods to withhold the necessary federal tax – so more tax will have to be withheld from each remaining paycheck.

Adjusting withholding can prevent taxpayers from having too little tax or too much withheld. Too little withheld could result in an unexpected tax bill or penalty at tax time in 2019.

Using the Withholding Calculator

It’s helpful if taxpayers have their completed 2017 tax return available when using the Withholding Calculator to estimate the amount of income, deductions, adjustments and credits to enter. Filers also need their most recent pay stubs to compute the employee’s withholding so far this year.

Calculator results depend on the accuracy of information entered. If a taxpayer’s personal circumstances change during the year, they should return to the calculator to check whether their withholding should be changed.

Employees can use the results from the Withholding Calculator to help determine if they should complete a new Form W-4 and, if so, what information to enter on a new Form W-4.

Taxpayers who change their withholding for 2018 should recheck their withholding at the start of 2019, especially those who reduced their withholding sometime in 2018. A mid-year withholding change in 2018 may have a different full-year impact in 2019. Taxpayers who do not file a new Form W-4 for 2019, may have a higher or lower withholding than intend. To help protect against having too little withheld in 2019, IRS encourages all filers to check their withholding again early in 2019.

The Withholding Calculator does not request personally-identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, address or bank account number. The IRS does not save or record the information entered on the calculator. As always, taxpayers should watch out for tax scams, especially via email or phone and be alert to cybercriminals impersonating the IRS. The IRS does not send emails related to the Withholding Calculator or the information entered in it.

Adjusting withholding

Employees who need to complete a new Form W-4 should submit it to their employers as soon as possible. Employees with a change in personal circumstances that reduce the number of withholding allowances must submit a new Form W-4 with corrected withholding allowances to their employer within 10 days of the change.

Taxpayers may also need to determine if they should make adjustments to their state or local withholding. They can contact their state's department of revenue to learn more. has information about steps taxpayers can take now to get a jump on next year’s taxes, including how the new tax law may affect them.