Here are some questions and answers about tax filing season:
What if my tax refund was smaller than I expected?
A small refund is generally a good thing because it means you accurately estimated the amount of tax you were supposed to pay during the year. But if you prefer to use a refund as a sort of forced savings plan, you can have more money withheld from your paycheck during the year by filing an adjusted Form W-4 with your employer. The fewer “allowances” you claim on the form, the more tax is withheld from your paycheck, potentially leading to a bigger refund next spring.
The I.R.S. offers an online withholding calculator as part of its “paycheck checkup” tool and tax software programs like TurboTax offer free tools as well.
What if I underpaid my taxes in 2018?
Because of the change in the withholding tables, the I.R.S. is giving a break to many taxpayers who underpaid their taxes last year. Typically, you’ll owe a penalty if you paid less than 90 percent of the tax owed, either through paycheck withholding or by making quarterly estimated tax payments. But last month, the agency said it would reduce the threshold to 80 percent, down from the 85 percent announced in January. The change applies just to the 2018 tax year.
If you want to have more tax withheld to avoid writing a check next year, you should do so soon since more than three months of 2019 paychecks have already been issued, Ms. Hockenberry of the tax professionals association said.
Is there any way to reduce my 2018 taxes at this point?
There are still a few options left to help reduce your tax bill for 2018, like contributing to an individual retirement account, Ms. Hockenberry said. Contributions to traditional I.R.A.s may be deductible, depending on your income, and can be made for the 2018 tax year until the April filing deadline. Fidelity Investments said that last year, about a third of contributions to its I.R.A.s were made in the three weeks before the tax deadline.
You may also contribute for 2018 to a health savings account until the tax filing deadline. The accounts, however, are available only to people with specific high-deductible health insurance plans, so make sure your plan qualifies.