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Where did my tax refund go?

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Does your family rely on your tax refund every year? Do you use your tax refund for a family vacation or use it to pay your real estate taxes for the year? This year is going to be an interesting year for taxpayers who rely on receiving their refund each year, because they may not get one. I bet that got your attention and interest to continue reading.

It is going to be more important than ever to sit down with your CPA and review your year-end tax planning, especially if you have not already. The IRS updated their payroll tax deduction tables earlier this year to better reflect the correct amount of tax withholdings for taxpayers. The new tables reflect the changes in the standard deduction, repeal of personal exemptions and changes in tax rates and brackets. What this means is you may be getting more each week in your paycheck, but at the expense of not over-withholding like you have in the past.

Those of you who have been used to receiving tax refunds each year were receiving them because you withheld more taxes from your weekly paychecks than you needed to. When you file your taxes it is determined how much tax you owe and what you have paid in over the course of the year. Whether the difference is positive or negative will dictate if you get a refund or need to pay. Those that have overpaid taxes over the course of the year will receive a refund and people who have underpaid will owe. Be careful if you are not paying enough into the system during the course of the year as this may cause additional penalties as well.

The ideal scenario would be: your taxes owed and what has been paid wash each other out. Keep in mind, although you may love that refund, you simply provided the government with an interest free loan for the majority of the year.

So why are things different this year? The payroll tax tables have been redrafted to reflect, as closely as possible, the actual taxes owed by the taxpayer. This has increased the amount you are receiving each pay period from your employer and lowered the amount of taxes you are paying into the system. Therefore, when it comes to filing your taxes early next year there is a good chance that you will not be getting the refund you have been accustomed to in previous years because you have received this money all throughout the year.

We see this year, because it is the first year with the new tables, as being a challenge for many CPA’s who work with clients that are unaware of these changes. I can just imagine their clients, who are used to receiving a several thousand dollar refund each year, reaction when they are told their refund is a couple of hundred dollars or worse yet that they owe tax. This is not going to be a pleasant conversation and one that is going to take the CPA time to explain and educate the client. It is not the CPA’s fault, nor did their client pay more in tax (not necessarily the case in all situations) but it was simply a situation where the client received more money all throughout the year.

It is highly suggested that you consult with your CPA now, before their busy season kicks in, and have the conversation so you know where you stand for the year. This will allow you to plan better over the next few months and make decisions that may allow you to improve your tax situation. It also will provide you a few months to make changes to your withholdings if it makes sense for you.

Planning is key and having the right people on your team is just as important. Mitlin Financial assists our clients in having these conversations with their tax advisors and look to help them plan appropriately. We would be more than happy to assist you with any questions that you may have on this topic, including recommending the right tax advisor for you. Feel free to contact us, Mitlin Financial, at (844) 4-MITLIN x12 if you or someone you know needs assistance in planning for their taxes.

This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.

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