Not too much, not too little - taxpayers should check if their tax withholding is just right

COVID Tax Tip 2022-168, November 2, 2022

There are good surprises and there are bad surprises. Generally, a tax-related surprise is probably unwanted. To avoid tax surprises, people should review their tax withholding. There's still time left in 2022 to make changes and see the benefit on their tax return next year. An adjustment made now will help people avoid the surprise of a balance due or a larger-than-expected refund. People who owe taxes when they file may also face a penalty for underpayment, so they should take steps to avoid that.

It's an especially good idea to check withholding when a taxpayer has a big life change. Events like marriage, divorce, a new child, a new home purchase, or changes in tax laws can all be reasons to adjust withholding.

Credit amounts may change each year. Taxpayers can visit and use the Interactive Tax Assistant to identify whether they qualify for any tax credits that may call for a withholding adjustment.

Taxes are pay as you go

Taxes are generally paid throughout the year, whether from salary withholding, quarterly estimated tax payments or a combination of both. About 70% of taxpayers, however, withhold too much every year. This typically results in a refund.

A few other facts about refunds:

  • Proper withholding adjustments help people boost their take home pay rather than overwithholding taxes throughout the year and getting it back as a tax refund.
  • While the IRS issues most refunds in 21 days or less from an error-free electronic tax return, it may take longer for different reasons.
  • It's generally not a good idea to rely on a refund for big purchases.
  • Direct Deposit is the easiest and most convenient way to get a refund. The IRS issues more than 90% of all refunds this way.
  • Paper return processing delays stemming from the pandemic are six months or more. The IRS COVID-19 operations page offers complete details.

Tax Withholding Estimator

The Tax Withholding Estimator can help people determine if they have too much income tax withheld and how to make an adjustment. In other cases, it can help taxpayers see if they should withhold more or make an estimated tax payment to avoid a tax bill when they file their tax return next year.

Other items may affect 2022 taxes

Some unforeseen life events can make withholding adjustments necessary. They include:

More information:

Subscribe to IRS Tax Tips