Tax Refunds and Withholding

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The most important thing most people want to know about their tax return is how much tax refund they will get back.

As you use TaxAct, you can see how much you owe or are receiving as a refund as you enter information on your return. As TaxAct helps you find every tax benefit to which you are entitled, that number should look more and more favorable.

No one complains when they get a healthy tax refund.

Nevertheless, the first thing you should do when you get an especially large refund is to make sure it doesn't happen again next year.

Getting a huge refund every year means you're having too much income tax withheld from your paycheck all through the year, or you're paying too much in estimated taxes.

You can make better use of your money by keeping it in your control all year.

If you have high interest credit card debt, you're better off using the money to pay off that debt as soon as possible. If you have an emergency, your money should be someplace where you can access it if you need to.

If you use overwithholding as a kind of forced savings plan, consider other automatic savings plans that give you a better return and let you keep your own money. You can have your employer deduct some of your pay for a retirement plan, or deposit it directly into savings for you. Or you can set up an automatic online plan for investing or transferring to a savings account.

Some people hesitate to lower their income tax withholding because they're afraid they might end up owing money when they file their taxes. They'd rather shortchange themselves all year than possibly end up with a bill at tax time.

You don't have to choose between having way too much withheld or worrying about owing taxes at the end of the year. Using the Form W-4 Withholding section, you can make sure your income tax withholding more closely matches the amount you owe the IRS when you file.


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Upcoming Tax Dates

January 1 — Everyone
Federal Holiday (New Year's Day) Details

January 10 — Employees who work for tips
If you received $20 or more in tips during December, report them to your employer Details

January 15 — Individuals
Make a payment of your estimated tax for 2018 if you did not pay your income tax for the year through withholding (or did not pay in enough tax that way). Use Form 1040-ES Details

January 15 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in December 2018

January 15 — Farmers & fishermen
Pay your estimated tax for 2018 using Form 1040-ES Details

January 21 — Everyone
Federal Holiday (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) Details

January 31 — All Employers
Give your employees their copies of Form W2 for 2018. If an employee agreed to receive Form W2 electronically, have it posted on a website and notify the employee of the posting.

January 31 — Individuals who must make estimated tax payments
If you did not pay your last installment of estimated tax by January 15, you may choose (but are not required) to file your income tax return (Form 1040) for 2017 by January 31. Filing your return and paying any tax due by January 31 prevents any penalty for late payment of the last installment. If you cannot file and pay your tax by January 31, file and pay your tax by April 15.

January 31 — Payers of gambling winnings
If you either paid reportable gambling winnings or withheld income tax from gambling winnings, give the winners their copies of Form W2G.

January 31 — Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
File Form 941 for the fourth quarter of 2018. Deposit or pay any undeposited tax under the accuracy of deposit rules. If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return. If you deposited the tax for the quarter timely, properly, and in full, you have until 02-10 to file the return.

January 31 — Certain small employers
File Form 944 to report social security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2018. Deposit or pay any undeposited tax under the accuracy of deposit rules. If your tax liability is $2,500 or more for 2018 but less than $2,500 for the fourth quarter, deposit any undeposited tax or pay it in full with a timely filed return. If you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full, you have until February 10 to file the return.

January 31 — Farm employers
File Form 943 to report social security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2018. Deposit or pay any undeposited tax under the accuracy of deposit rules. If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return. If you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full, you have until February 10 to file the return.

January 31 — Federal unemployment tax
File Form 940 for 2018. If your undeposited tax is $500 or less, you can either pay it with your return or deposit it. If it is more than $500, you must deposit it. However, if you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full, you have until February 10 to file the return.

January 31 — All businesses
Give annual information statements to recipients of certain payments you made during 2018 Details

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