When the IRS Speaks, Retirees Need to Listen

Workers aren’t the only ones who need to double-check that they’re withholding sufficient taxes. The IRS is warning retirees to ensure they’re paying enough federal income tax.

The IRS embarked on a big awareness campaign since the summer, telling taxpayers they should review and update their withholding numbers at work to ensure that they are paying enough federal income tax. But they’re not the only ones who should be checking their numbers, reports CNBC in the article “The IRS is warning retirees of this impending surprise tax.” Retirees who fail to update withholding from pensions or annuities may be in for a surprise, and it won’t be a good one.

It’s easier to say people should do this, than for them to do it, however.

Once people leave the workplace, they start drawing down income from several different sources. That usually means Social Security, IRAs, pensions and annuities. 

While they were working, they didn’t have to think about income taxes, unless they were self-employed. Their payroll company or HR department took care of that.

Now, they must pay estimated taxes every quarter to the IRS.

There are two issues: making sure you remember to pay the tax on a timely basis and making sure that you pay the correct account. Some accounting firms send their clients reminders.  However, that doesn’t always do the job.

How can you make this easier?

There are new withholding tables from the IRS. Speak with your accountant. Make sure you have enough money set aside for quarterly tax payments. 

If you’re single and your AGI (Adjusted Gross Income) plus nontaxable interest and half of your Social Security benefits are more than $34,000 (or $44,000, if you’re married), as much as 85% of your Social Security benefits could be taxed. If that seems like a lot, you’re right.

One alternative: use the IRS Form W-4V to withhold a flat rate from each check. Depending on your situation, you can withhold 7%, 10%, 12% or 22%.

If pension or annuity payments are an income source, you can also have taxes withheld from your income, using IRS Form W-4P, and chose the number of allowances you want to claim.

Work with your accountant to get a clear picture of your tax liability and do that now. If you want to avoid a nasty tax surprise in the spring, get it all done well before the end of 2018. You must know what you will need to pay. Especially for new retirees, it’s not easy to figure it out.

Reference: CNBC (Sep. 12, 2018) “The IRS is warning retirees of this impending surprise tax”

Hear From Our Clients

I heard Cindy’s presentation at a Senior Luncheon at my church, and was very impressed. She helped my daughter and me understand many aspects of elder law. Josh has also been very helpful in my planning to enter an independent living situation . I have told many friends about them.

- Charlotte

The very best elder law attorney and staff anyone could ever ask for! I have referred a number of clients to Cindy and she never disappoints. She is kind, caring, and extremely thorough in making sure everything is completed as it should be. I highly recommend Cindy for anyone needing lawyer services; she truly goes above and beyond for every client she helps and has had a huge impact in so many peoples’ lives. Thank you, Cindy and staff, for everything that you do- I’m so glad to know you!

- Kerri

Cindy and the Nelson Elder Care Law team are trustworthy and helpful. They are the experts in elder care law. At Leaf Cremation, we entrust our families to the care of the Nelson team when their services are needed.

- Pierce

Josh Nelson, and his staff, have been amazingly helpful to our family. The ins and outs of nursing homes, the rules and regulations that govern Medicare and Medicaid are daunting and the folks at Nelson Elder Care Law have been informative, responsive, and above all, empathetic. I cannot emphasize enough how their service has taken a weight off of our shoulders especially during a world pandemic that has targeted nursing homes across our country. I highly recommend retaining Josh and his firm!

- Marcia

I had a simple legal question to them that I needed answered and they very helpful in giving me the information I needed. I highly recommend them and will reach out to them if I need more advice or assistance. Thank you for taking your time to just answer a couple of questions I had!

- Ben