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

February 10 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
File Form 941 for the fourth quarter of 2017. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the quarter timely, properly, and in full.

February 10 — Certain small employers
File Form 944 to report social security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2017. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full.

February 10 — Farm employers
File Form 943 to report social security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2017. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full.

February 10 — Federal unemployment tax
File Form 940 for 2017. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full.

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

February 15 — All businesses
Give annual information statements to recipients of certain payments you made during 2017 Details

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

February 15 — All employers
Begin withholding income tax from the pay of any employee who claimed exemption from withholding in 2017, but did not give you Form W4 to continue the exemption this year.

February 15 — Individuals
If you claimed exemption from income tax withholding last year on the Form W-4, you must file a new Form W-04 by this date to continue your exemption for another year Details

February 19 — Everyone
Federal Holiday (Washington's Birthday) Details

February 28 — All businesses
File information returns (for example, Forms 1099) for certain payments you made during 2017.

February 28 — Payers of gambling winnings.
File Form 1096 along with Copy A of all the Forms W2G you issued for 2017. If you file Forms W2G electronically, your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to 03-31. The due date for giving the recipient these forms remains 01-31.

February 28 — All employers
File Form W3, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements, along with Copy A of all the Forms W2 you issued for 2017. If you file Forms W2 electronically, your due date for filing them with the SSA will be extended to 03-31. The due date for giving the recipient these forms remains 01-31.

February 28 — Large food and beverage establishment employers
File Form 8027, Employer's Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips. Use Form 8027T, Transmittal of Employer's Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips, to summarize and transmit Forms 8027 if you have more than one establishment. If you file Forms 8027 electronically, your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to 03-31.

View More Tax Dates