Checking withholding can help taxpayers decide if they need to give their employer a new W-4

IRS Tax Tip 2021-75, May 26, 2021

All taxpayers should review their federal withholding each year to make sure they’re not having too little or too much tax withheld.

Employees, retirees and self-employed individuals can use the IRS Tax Withholding Estimator to help decide if they should make a change to their withholding. This online tool guides users, step-by-step through the process of checking their withholding, and provides withholding recommendations to help aim for their desired refund amount when they file next year. Taxpayers can check with their employer to update their withholding or submit a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Certificate.

Adjustments to withholding

Individuals should generally increase withholding if they hold more than one job at a time or have income from sources not subject to withholding. If they don’t make any changes, they will likely owe additional tax and possibly penalties when filing their tax return.

Individuals should generally decrease their withholding if they qualify for income tax credits or deductions other than the basic standard deduction.

Either way, those who need to adjust their withholding must prepare a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Certificate. They need to submit the new Form W-4 to their employer as soon as possible since withholding occurs throughout the year.

Individuals who should check their withholding include those:

  • whose spouse is an employee
  • who are working two or more jobs at the same time or who only work for part of the year
  • who claim credits such as the child tax credit
  • with dependents age 17 or older
  • who itemized deductions on prior year returns
  • with high incomes and more complex tax returns
  • with large tax refunds or large tax bills for last year

Tax Withholding Estimator benefits

The IRS Tax Withholding Estimator can help taxpayers:

  • determine if they should complete a new Form W-4.
  • know what information to put on a new Form W-4.
  • save time because the tool completes the form worksheets.

Taxpayers should prepare before using the Tax Withholding Estimator by having their most recent pay statements, information for other income sources and their most recent income tax return. The tool does not ask for sensitive information such as name, Social Security number, address, or bank account numbers.

State or local withholding

Some individuals might also need to adjust their state or local withholding. They can contact their state’s department of revenue to learn more.

More information:

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IRS explains which meals qualify for temporary 100% expense deduction

IRS explains which meals qualify for temporary 100% expense deduction

By Sally Schreiber, J.D.

April 8, 2021

The IRS released guidance on Thursday explaining when the temporary 100% deduction for restaurant meals is available and when the 50% limitation on the deduction for food and beverages continues to apply for Sec. 274 purposes (Notice 2021-25).

Under Sec. 274(n)(1), a deduction for any expense for food or beverages is generally limited to 50% of the amount that would otherwise be deductible. However, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, P.L. 116-260, enacted a temporary exception to the limitation for amounts paid or incurred after Dec. 31, 2020, and before Jan. 1, 2023, for food or beverages provided by a restaurant (Sec. 274(n)(2)(D)). This temporary 100% deduction was designed to help restaurants, many of which have been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To provide certainty to taxpayers, the IRS guidance explains when the temporary 100% deduction applies and when the 50% limitation continues to apply.

Under the notice, the term “restaurant” means a business that prepares and sells food or beverages to retail customers for immediate consumption, regardless of whether the food or beverages are consumed on the business’s premises. A restaurant does not include a business that primarily sells prepackaged food or beverages not for immediate consumption, including a grocery store; specialty food store; beer, wine, or liquor store; drug store; convenience store; newsstand; or a vending machine or kiosk. The 50% limitation continues to apply to the amount of any deduction otherwise allowable to the taxpayer for any expense paid or incurred for food or beverages acquired from those types of businesses (unless another exception in Sec. 274(n)(2) applies).

The notice explained that an employer may not treat as a restaurant for Sec. 274(n)(2)(D) purposes:

  • Any eating facility located on the employer’s business premises and used in furnishing meals excluded from an employee’s gross income under Sec. 119; or
  • Any employer-operated eating facility treated as a de minimis fringe under Sec. 132(e)(2), even if that eating facility is operated by a third party under Regs. Sec. 1.132-7(a)(3).

The notice is effective for amounts paid or incurred after Dec. 31, 2020, and before Jan. 1, 2023.

— Sally P. Schreiber, J.D., (Sally.Schreiber@aicpa-cima.com) is a JofA senior editor.

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