A new year means a fresh start. One way people can get the new tax year off to a good start is by checking their federal income tax withholding. They can do this using the Tax Withholding Estimator on IRS.gov.
This online tool helps employees avoid having too much or too little tax withheld from their wages. It also helps self-employed people make accurate estimated tax payments. Having too little withheld can result in an unexpected tax bill or even a penalty at tax time. Having too much withheld results in less money in their pocket.
All taxpayers can use the results from the Tax Withholding Estimator to determine if they should:
• Complete a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate and submit it to their employer.
• Complete a new Form W-4P, Withholding Certificate for Pension or Annuity Payments and submit it to their payer.
• Make an additional or estimated tax payment to the IRS.
The Tax Withholding Estimator asks taxpayers to estimate:
• Their 2021 income.
• The number of children to be claimed for the child tax credit and earned income tax credit.
• Other items that will affect their 2021 taxes.
The Tax Withholding Estimator does not ask for personally-identifiable information, such as a name, Social Security number, address and bank account numbers. The IRS doesn’t save or record the information entered in the Estimator.
Before using the Estimator, taxpayers should gather their 2019 tax return, most recent pay stubs and income documents including:
• Form W-2 from employers.
• Form 1099 from banks and other payers.
• Forms 1095-A from the marketplace for those claiming the premium tax credit.
• Form 1099-NEC, Nonemployee Compensation.
Most income is taxable, including unemployment compensation, refund interest and income from the gig economy and virtual currencies. Therefore, taxpayers should also gather any documents from these types of earnings. These documents will help taxpayers estimate 2021 income and answer other questions asked during the process.
The Tax Withholding Estimator results will only be as accurate as the information entered by the taxpayer. People with more complex tax situations should 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.