The Republican tax scam isn't done screwing you
It was bad enough when many U.S. taxpayers were hit with substantial cuts to their anticipated tax refunds this year. But thanks to the Republican Party's massive 2017 tax giveaway to corporations and the nation’s wealthiest, ordinary Americans have even more headaches awaiting them than just scrambling to find the money they expected to be available to cover last month's bills.
Because the Republicans really, really screwed this one up.
They passed a tax scam that was not only unwanted and unasked for by the vast majority of Americans, but they rammed it through so quickly, in the dark of night, that they didn’t even bother to read it. After all, most of it had been written by the corporations in the first place, and the so-called tax “cuts" that went to ordinary, middle-class Americans were miniscule compared to those provided to multimillionaire corporate CEO’s, for example. So it may have just never occurred to any Republican Congressman or Senator to inform the American people how the scam would impact their refunds, and specifically that Americans would have to significantly adjust the amount of taxes being withheld by their employers in order to obtain those same expected refunds.
But with many tax-filing Americans now irate about how they seem to have been ripped off, the same IRS that is now hiding Donald Trump’s tax returns from us has announced they'll be issuing a new, very complicated withholding form so that Americans won’t feel as ripped off in the future.
[T]he law isn’t done with you. There’s another complication coming out later this year: The Internal Revenue Service is changing how you adjust your paycheck withholdings, and early indicators show it won’t be easy.
The agency plans to release a new W-4 form that better incorporates the changes ushered in by the new tax law so that the amount held back for taxes in each of your paychecks is more accurate.
So now they’re planning to issue a form that will suddenly make everything right? Um, sure-- if you're prepared to spend some time on it.
USA Today interviewed Pete Isberg, head of governmental affairs at the HR/payroll management software firm, ADP, who characterized the new form as a “much bigger pain" than previous withholding forms:
While the new form hasn’t been released yet, the IRS last summer put out a draft version and instructions seeking feedback from tax preparation companies and payroll firms. Instead of claiming a certain amount of allowances based on exemptions – which have been eliminated – the draft form asked workers to input the annual dollar amounts for:
- Nonwage income, such as interest and dividends
- Itemized and other deductions
- Income tax credits expected for the tax year
- For employees with multiple jobs, total annual taxable wages for all lower paying jobs in the household
“It looked a lot more like the 1040 than a W-4,” Isberg says.
The new form referenced up to 12 other IRS publications to fill it out. It was so complex and different from the previous W-4 form that Ernst & Young worried employees would struggle to fill it out correctly and employers may need to offer training beforehand
So this new form is likely to be so complex, referencing twelve other separate IRS forms and pamphlets, that employees are going to need “training" in filling it out. No one seems to have calculated how much productivity will be wasted in scheduling and conducting this “training."
Also, there's an added surprise in the draft “form” the IRS has issued for public comment. You have to disclose all sources of income to your employer. If you have a “side job,” you would have to disclose that to your “primary” employer. In other words, your primary employer gets a ready-made excuse to question why you aren’t, say, as “productive” as your co-workers. Well, it’s because you’re devoting your time to something else, you slacker!
The draft form also requires you to state your spouse and family’s entire income. Some people may not want to disclose that, either. If you don’t want to give your employer all this private information, you would have the option of using the “IRS tax calculator.” Good luck with that. According to the American Payroll Association, the calculator is “not easy to use and the instructions are confusing.”
But you have lots of free time to figure it out, right?
The new form (the IRS is rolling this out for the 2020 tax year, and another “draft" is coming out in May 2018) would also require you to dig up last year’s 1099, pay stubs, or 1040 returns in order to make the withholding calculations. So, essentially you get to do your taxes twice! Thanks, Republicans!
But wait, there’s more!
You may also need to fill out a new state income withholding form. Many states use the current W-4 for withholding, but they may need to release their own forms, too.
Not to mention the fact that all of these supposed tax cuts for ordinary Americansexpire to pre-2017 levels--except for corporations and the nation’s richest citizens—as of 2026. That's another aspect of the Republican tax scam they weren't too keen on discussing after they passed it.
April 15th is next Monday, and many Americans are just now finding out how badly they were screwed by this grotesque rip-off. But Republicans are making damned sure we don’t forget about it anytime soon.