What Is Withholding Tax?
Withholding tax refers to the amount deducted from an employee’s gross wages and paid directly to the government by the employer. The great majority of employed individuals in the United States are liable to withhold taxes. The amount withheld is a credit against the employee’s annual income tax liability. Nonresident aliens are subject to withholding taxes on earned income as well as other income, such as interest and dividends from U.S. company assets they possess.
Understanding Withholding Tax
The United States maintains its pay-as-you-go (or pay-as-you-earn) income tax system through tax withholding. This entails taxing individuals at the source of their income as opposed to attempting to collect income tax after earnings have been paid.
Here is how it operates. Every time an employee is paid, their employer deducts a portion of their paycheck as income tax. This is then paid to the Internal Revenue Service by the employer (IRS). The amount deducted appears on the employee’s paystub, and the yearly total can be found on Form W-2: Wage and Tax Statement. Each year, employers provide W-2 forms to their employees so they may file their income tax returns.
The amount removed is contingent on a variety of circumstances. These factors include an employee’s income, filing status, any withholding allowances claimed, and if the employee wants additional income to be withheld. Any excess is refunded to the employee as a tax refund by the IRS if warranted.
The majority of states in the United States impose state income taxes and use tax withholding systems to collect taxes from their inhabitants. States utilize both the IRS Form W-4 and their own worksheets.
There are no state income taxes in nine states. Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming are included. Washington residents with high incomes and capital gains are solely subject to withholding tax. Residents of New Hampshire only pay income tax on interest and dividend income. However, New Hampshire taxes dividends and investment income, but it has voted to eliminate this practice by 2027.
History of Withholding Taxes
President Abraham Lincoln ordered the first tax withholding in the United States in 1862 to help finance the Civil War. For the same objective, the federal government also established excise taxes. After the end of the Civil War in 1872, tax withholding and income tax were repealed.
When the current system was introduced in 1943, it was followed by a substantial increase in taxes. It was believed at the time that it would be impossible to collect taxes if they were not collected at the source. The majority of employees are subject to withholding taxes upon hiring and completion of a W-4 Form. The form provides an estimate of the tax liability.
One of two types of payroll taxes, withholding tax is one of two types of payroll taxes. The other type is based on an employee’s pay and is paid to the government by the company. Since the Social Security Act of 1935, it provides funds for Social Security and federal unemployment programs, as well as Medicare (since 1966).
Types of Withholding Taxes
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) uses two distinct types of withholding taxes to ensure that the correct tax is withheld in various circumstances: the U.S. resident and nonresident withholding taxes. We describe each in greater depth below.
U.S. Resident Withholding Tax
The first and most frequently mentioned withholding tax is the one on the personal income of U.S. residents, which every U.S. employer is required to collect. Under the existing arrangement, businesses collect the withholding tax and remit it straight to the government; employees pay the remaining amount when they file their tax returns each April. If too much tax is withheld, a tax refund is issued. However, if insufficient tax has been withheld, the individual will owe the IRS money.
About 90 percent of your predicted income taxes should be withheld and submitted to the government. This ensures that you never fall behind on your income taxes (which can result in hefty penalties) and are never overtaxed throughout the year.
Investors and independent contractors are exempt from withholding taxes but not income taxes; they must pay estimated taxes quarterly.
If certain categories of taxpayers fall behind, they may be subject to backup withholding, a 24% higher rate of tax withholding.
Using the IRS’s tax withholding estimate, you may quickly do a paycheck check. This program identifies the correct amount of tax withheld from each paycheck to ensure you owe the correct amount in April. To utilize the estimator, you need your most recent pay stubs, income tax return, expected income for the current year, and other information.
Nonresident Withholding tax
The other form of withholding tax is imposed on nonresident aliens to guarantee that they pay the correct taxes on income from sources within the United States. A nonresident alien is a foreign-born individual who has not passed either the green card or substantial presence test.
If a nonresident foreign conducted a trade or business in the United States during the year, they must file Form 1040NR.
Standard IRS deduction and exemption tables can help nonresident aliens determine when they should pay U.S. taxes and which deductions they may be eligible to claim. A tax treaty between your country and the United States may potentially impact withholding tax.
Calculating Your Withholding Tax
Annually, the IRS announces and adjusts marginal tax rates. The tax rates for 2022 are indicated in the following table:
|Tax Rate||Income Range Single, Married Filing Separately||Income Range Married Filing Jointly|
|10%||$10,274 or less||$20,549 or less|
|12%||$10,275 to $41,774||$20,550 to $83,549|
|22%||$41,775 to $89,074||$83,550 to $178,149|
|24%||$89,075 to $170,049||$178,150 to $340,099|
|32%||$170,050 to $215,949||$340,100 to $431,899|
|35%||$215,950 to $539,899||$431,900 to $647,849|
|37%||$539,900 and over||$647,850 and over|
Utilize the IRS Withholding Estimator to compute your withholding tax. To obtain an exact number, you will need some fundamental facts. When filling out the online form, be sure you have the following items accessible:
- Your filing condition
- Your income source
- any new sources of revenue
- The date of your most recent pay period’s conclusion
- Your per-period and year-to-date (YTD) earnings.
The amount of federal income tax paid per pay period as well as the total for the year.
Whether you standardize or itemize your deductions, there are tax implications.
The amount of any tax credits you claim The calculator provides an estimate of your refund or tax liability. You may also select an appropriate projected amount to be withheld.
What Is the Purpose of Withholding Tax?
Withholding tax is intended to guarantee that employees can conveniently pay any income tax they owe. It handles the United States’ pay-as-you-go tax collecting system. It combats both tax evasion and the need to send large, unsustainable tax bills to taxpayers at the end of the tax year.
How Much Tax Should You Have Withheld?
The amount of income tax withheld from each paycheck depends on a number of variables, including annual income and filing status.
Why Did My Employer Withhold Too Much or Too Little Tax?
The amount of federal tax withheld from your paycheck is based on the information you supply on your W-4 form, which you complete and provide to your employer when you begin working. If you are considerably overpaying or underpaying income tax, you will likely need to resubmit this form with current information.
Who Qualifies for Exemption From Withholding?
Employees having no tax due for the prior year and no anticipated tax liability for the current year can utilize Form W-4 to tell their employer not to withhold any federal income tax from their wages. The duration of this exemption is one calendar year.
How Do You Calculate Your Withholding Tax?
You can use the Withholding Tax Estimator on the IRS website to figure out how much withholding tax you have to pay. This tool can help you figure out if you will get a tax refund or owe money to the government, and by how much.