Saturday, 20 January, 2018

U.S. officials see tax paycheck windfall but urge accuracy check

IRS Sign FBN You can start filing your 2017 taxes on …
Sammy Stanley | 12 January, 2018, 06:24

Discussing new tax withholding tables during a White House briefing, Mnuchin said: "We thought that [tax cuts] would be great for the economy and we are thrilled with the number of companies reacting accordingly".

The new withholding tables are created to work with the Forms W-4 that workers have already filed with their employers to claim withholding allowances. But officials predicted 90 percent of workers would see bigger paychecks while little would change for the remaining 10 percent.

Mnuchin also mentioned that the IRS will have a new calculator on its website by the end of February so that taxpayers can figure out how the change will affect them.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and U.S. Treasury Department released new withholding guidance on Thursday, indicating that employees should see the tax reform changes reflected in their paychecks by next month. Personal exemptions are a core feature of the current withholding system, but now that they are eliminated, "it's necessary to build a new approach to withholding, which will take some time", the senior IRS official said.

Mr. Mnuchin pushed back on those concerns Thursday, saying the IRS usually issues its withholding tables every January, and the agency made a decision to wait until February to take into account the changes under the new tax system.

Private debt collectors cost the IRS $20 million in the past fiscal year but brought in only $6.7 million in back taxes, the agency's taxpayer advocate reported this past week.

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Many employees will begin to see increases in their paychecks to reflect the new law in February.

The IRS has suffered funding cuts, as have many federal agencies, but before asking for additional funding, each agency should be identifying opportunities to slash wasteful spending and operating more efficiently with the funding they now have. Until a new Form W-4 is issued, employees and employers should continue to use the 2017 Form W-4.

Democrats have ordered a review by the Government Accountability Office to determine whether the new tax guidelines are accurate. The heads of the IRS should be implementing procedures to address all of the issues noted in the report, and Congress should put all other government agencies on notice to do the same. That means refunds will go out later. And that was before the new law was passed. Treasury would achieve that, the lawmakers surmised in the letter, by pushing the IRS to change its formula for withholdings.

"We would encourage every taxpayer to run their information through the calculator".

Democrats are concerned the rushed withholding tables could leave many tax filers in a situation of potentially being underwithheld for tax year 2018 and therefore left owing money when they file their tax returns in early 2019.

Those changes will largely be driven by changes in tax rates, tax brackets, an increase in the standing deduction and the repeal of the personal exemption.

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