A Mid-Year Tax Checkup May Be Appropriate
Taxes are similar to vehicles, in that they sometimes need a check-up to make sure they are performing as expected. That is especially true for 2018, with all of the changes brought about by tax reform.
One area of major concern is the amount of taxes individuals are withholding from their wages. Tax reform was passed late in 2017, and there was a considerable amount of confusion among employers related to the amount of taxes to withhold in 2018. It took the IRS a couple of months to come out with a revised Form W-4 (Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate) and withholding tables, and even then, there were concerns about whether the revised and more complicated W-4s were being filled out correctly by employees and whether the revised W-4s were actually being submitted to employers at all. The IRS has even been issuing notices cautioning taxpayers to be sure they are withholding enough.
While most people will see an overall tax reduction as a result of the tax reforms, the amount of their refund or tax due hinges on the amount of pre-payments, which include withholding and estimated tax payments. All this confusion related to withholding can lead to unpleasant surprises at tax time. If you count on a refund each year, it might be appropriate to have Lewis & Knopf run a mid-year tax projection to ensure that the projected refund will be as expected.
This is also true for retirees receiving pensions and Social Security benefits and for self-employed taxpayers who are making pre-payments via estimated taxes. You obviously do not want to pay too much and generally don’t want to end up with a huge tax liability. A mid-year check-up will allow adjustments to the 3rd- and 4th-quarter estimated tax payments so that the end result will be as desired.
Married couples with two working spouses, individuals with multiple jobs and situations in which taxpayers are both wage earners and self-employed cause the most difficulty in getting the prepayments correct. If you would like a mid-year projection and withholding check-up, please call for an appointment.
There are a number of other circumstances that can impact your taxes, and you probably should not wait until tax time to see the results. You could even be missing opportunities to decrease your prepayments and obtain more cash flow. With mid-year tax planning, you may be able to take steps to mitigate the tax impact of certain events and thus avoid unpleasant surprises before it is too late to address them. Here are some events that can significantly impact your tax liability:
- Getting married or divorced, or becoming widowed
- Changing jobs or your spouse starting to work
- Having a substantial increase or decrease in income
- Having a substantial gain from the sale of stocks or bonds
- Buying or selling a rental
- Starting, acquiring, or selling a business
- Buying or selling a main or vacation home
- Retiring or going to retire this year
- Being the beneficiary of an inheritance
- Giving birth to or adopting a child
- Making significant business purchases
- Having substantial investment income or gains from the sale of investment assets
- Making unplanned withdrawals from an IRA or pension plan
If you anticipate or have already encountered any of the above events or conditions, it may be appropriate to consult with your Lewis & Knopf tax advisor—preferably before the event and definitely before the end of the year.