How to Predict What I Will Pay in Income Taxes This Year

••• Jupiterimages/ Images

When you start working, you also may have to start paying income taxes, depending on how much you earn, your filing status and other considerations. If your employer withholds the right amount from your paychecks, you have nothing to worry about -- your taxes will already be paid up at the end of the year, and you might even get a refund. If you want to make sure you won't owe, or you're curious about how much you may get back, use the free calculator on the Internal Revenue Service's website.

Navigate to the IRS Withholding Calculator website (see Resources).

Select your filing status on the main page. If you select "Married filing joint return," include income and other information for both you and your spouse in subsequent steps.

Indicate whether someone else can claim you as a dependent. Even though you may have a job, your parents or another adult who provides most of your support can still claim you as a dependent until you turn 19 in most cases. If you go to college, the age limit extends to 24. Check with you parents if you're not sure of your dependent status. Click "Continue" to proceed to the next page.

Enter the number of jobs you currently hold, and check the first box if you had another job during the year that you no longer hold. Also, check any other boxes on the page that apply to you, such as contributions to an IRA or 401(k) plan, or taxable scholarship income. Click "Continue" when done.

Enter the amount of employee wages you expect to receive for the year in the first box on the next page. You can usually get a good estimate of this number by checking your final pay stub for the year and finding your year-to-date gross wages. If the year hasn't ended, use the information on the stub to estimate what your total will be at the end of the year. Add any earned income such as tips that aren't reported on your pay stub. If you're self-employed and don't get a pay stub or a W-2, enter zeroes in this section and report your expected net self-employment income in the Nonwage Income section.

Fill out your income tax withholding information in the appropriate fields further down the page. Check your last pay stub and enter your year-to-date withholding, along with the amount your employer withholds each pay period. Indicate how frequently you get paid, such as weekly, biweekly or monthly, and then enter the starting date of the job. Also, enter the ending date if you expect to leave the job before the end of the year.

Fill in any other fields that apply to you, such as taxable scholarship income or income from interest and dividends you expect to receive during the year. Click "Continue" when done.

Leave the fields blank on the next page if you plan to take the standard deduction. Most people take the standard deduction unless they have a big home mortgage or pay exorbitant medical expenses. If you normally itemize your deductions, fill in the blanks.

Click "Continue" to display the amount of taxes you will owe for the year. This number is only an estimate based on your entries and the current tax laws. The actual number could be different if your job situation changes or Congress passes new tax laws by the end of the year. If the amount is zero, the website shows how much of a refund you should receive based on your entries.


  • In most states, you have to file a state income tax return, in which case you will either pay additional taxes or get an additional refund. Generally, the state income tax rates are much lower than the federal rate.

    The IRS calculator does not take into account education credits. If you're a student with qualified higher education costs and claim an education credit, your tax bill may be smaller, or your refund may be higher.