2021 return done? Next step: use the IRS Tax Withholding Estimator to make sure withholding is right for 2022

IR-2022-81, April 13, 2022

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today urged any taxpayer, now finishing up their 2021 tax return, to use the IRS Tax Withholding Estimator to make sure they're having the right amount of tax taken out of their pay during 2022.

This online tool offers workers, self-employed individuals and retirees who have wage income a user-friendly resource for effectively tailoring the amount of income tax withheld from wages.

2021 refund too big? Too small? Surprise tax bill? If any of these apply, the Tax Withholding Estimator can help anyone make sure it doesn't happen again by having the right amount of taxes taken out for 2022.

Benefits of using the Estimator

For employees, withholding is the amount of federal income tax taken out of their paycheck. Taxpayers can use the results from the Tax Withholding Estimator to determine if they should complete a new Form W-4 and submit it to their employer. For example, checking withholding can:

  • Ensure the right amount of tax is withheld and prevent an unexpected tax bill or penalty at tax time and
  • Determine whether to have less tax withheld up front, thereby boosting take-home pay and reducing any refund at tax time.

When should taxpayers use this tool?

The IRS recommends checking withholding at least once a year. For anyone who has just finished filling out their 2021 return, now is a particularly good time to do it. It's also a good idea to use this tool right after a major life change, such as marriage, divorce, home purchase or the birth or adoption of a child.

What records are needed?

The Tax Withholding Estimator's results are only as accurate as the information entered. To help prepare, the IRS recommends that taxpayers gather:

  • Their most recent pay statements and if married, for their spouse,
  • Information for other sources of income and
  • Their most recent income tax return, 2021, if possible.

While the Tax Withholding Estimator works for most taxpayers, people with more complex tax situations should instead use the instructions in Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax. This includes taxpayers who owe alternative minimum tax or certain other taxes, and people with long-term capital gains or qualified dividends.

Still working on a 2021 return?

The IRS urges anyone still working on their 2021 return to make sure they have all their year-end statements in hand before filing. Besides all W-2s and 1099s, this includes two new letters issued by the IRS.

People who received advance payments of the Child Tax Credit will need to reconcile, or compare, the total received in advance with the amount they're eligible to claim. Letter 6419 shows their total advance Child Tax Credit payments to help taxpayers reconcile and receive the full amount of the 2021 Child Tax Credit.

While most eligible people already received their stimulus payments, people who are missing a third stimulus payment or got less than the full amount may be eligible to claim a Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2021 federal tax return. Letter 6475 shows their total third round of Economic Impact Payments.

Alternatively, anyone can securely sign in to their Online Account to access information on their advance Child Tax Credit payments and Economic Impact Payments.

Taxpayers should also e-file and choose direct deposit to avoid processing delays and help with faster delivery of their refund.

For most Americans, the tax-filing deadline is April 18, 2022. For residents of Maine and Massachusetts, the deadline is April 19, 2022. Americans who live and work abroad have until June 15, 2022. Those who need more time to file can get an automatic extension to file until Oct. 17, 2022. These extensions don't change the April 18 payment deadline. It is not an extension to pay. More information is available at IRS.gov.

Then, after they file, taxpayers can use the Tax Withholding Estimator to help them update their withholding for 2022.

Additional information