WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers that the earlier in the year they check their withholding, the easier it will be to get the right amount of tax withheld.

Besides wages, income tax is often withheld from other types of income, such as pensions, bonuses, commissions and gambling winnings. Ideally, taxpayers should try to match their withholding with their actual tax liability. If not enough tax is withheld, they will owe tax at the end of the year and may have to pay interest and a penalty. If too much tax is withheld, they will lose the use of that money until they get their refund.

This is the first in a series of weekly tax preparedness releases designed to help taxpayers begin planning to file their 2015 return.

When Should Taxpayers Check their Withholding?

  • When a taxpayer gets a big refund, or finds that they have an unexpected balance due.
  • Any time there are personal or financial changes that might affect their tax liability, such as getting married, getting divorced, having a child or buying a home.
  • When there are changes in federal tax law that might affect their tax liability.

How to Check the Amount being withheld

Use the IRS Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov. This easy-to-use tool can help figure the taxpayer's federal income tax withholding so their employer can withhold the correct amount from their pay. This is particularly helpful if they've had too much or too little withheld in the past, their situation has changed, or they started a new job.

Taxpayers may also use the worksheets and tables in Pub 505: TaxWithholding and Estimated Tax, to see if they are having the right amount of tax withheld.

How to Change the Amount being withheld

Events during the year may change a taxpayer's marital status or the exemptions, adjustments, deductions, or credits they expect to claim on their return. When this happens, taxpayers may need to give their employer a new Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate to change their withholding status or number of allowances.

Generally, taxpayers should give their employer a new Form W–4 within 10 days after either:

  • A divorce, if they have been claiming married status, or
  • Any event that decreases the number of withholding allowances they can claim.

Other Considerations

  • Taxpayers, who bought 2015 insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, should report changes in circumstances to the Marketplace when they happen. Reporting changes in income or family size will help taxpayers avoid getting too much or too little advance payment of the premium tax credit. Receiving too much or too little in advance can affect the amount of their refund or how much they may owe when they file their tax return.
  • Taxpayers may need to include Additional Medicare Tax and Net Investment Income Tax when figuring withholding and estimated tax. Taxpayers may request that employers deduct and withhold an additional amount of income tax withholding from wages on Form W-4 if they are affected by these taxes.

Find more information on this and other tax topics by visiting: www.irs.gov/Individuals.

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Upcoming Tax Dates

April 10 — Employees who work for tips
If you received $20 or more in tips during March, report them to your employer. You can use Form 4070.

April 10 — Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the first 15 days of March.

April 14 — Regular method taxes
Deposit the tax for the last 16 days of March.

April 18 — Individuals
File a 2016 income tax return (Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ) and pay any tax due. If you want an automatic 6 month extension of time to file the return, file Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. For more information, see Form 4868. Then, file Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ by October 16.

April 18 — Corporations
File a 2016 calendar year income tax return (Form 1120) and pay any tax due. Details

April 18 — Individuals
If you are not paying your 2017 income tax through withholding (or will not pay in enough tax during the year that way), pay the first installment of your 2017 estimated tax. Use Form 1040ES.

April 18 — Household Employers
f you paid cash wages of $1,800 or more in 2016 to a household employee, you must file Schedule H Details

April 18 — Corporations
Deposit the first installment of estimated income tax for 2017 Details

April 18 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in March.

April 18 — Nonpayroll withholding
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in March.

April 18 — Household employers
If you paid cash wages of $1,900 or more in 2016 to a household employee, you must file Schedule H (Form 1040). If you are required to file a federal income tax return (Form 1040), file Schedule H (Form 1040) with the return and report any household employment taxes. Report any federal unemployment (FUTA) tax on Schedule H (Form 1040) if you paid total cash wages of $1,000 or more in any calendar quarter of 2015 or 2016 to household employees. Also, report any income tax you withheld for your household employees.

April 27 — Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the last 16 days of March.

April 29 — Regular method taxes
Deposit the tax for the first 15 days of April.

View More Tax Dates