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Grassley wants IRS to give taxpayers a break if they messed up witholdings

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, center, thinks the IRS should give taxpayers a break if they did not withhold enough from their paychecks. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, center, thinks the IRS should give taxpayers a break if they did not withhold enough from their paychecks. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee does not want taxpayers punished if they end up owing an abnormally large amount of money to the IRS this tax season because of issues with the changes in tax withholding under 2018 tax code changes.

While Sen. Charles E. Grassley praised the efforts of the IRS and the Treasury Department to advise people of the importance of updating tax withholding figures, as well as the online calculator, he said that it was clear there could be issues.

“There’s still going to be some taxpayers who may discover that they were under-withheld due to changes in the law and owe tax at the end of the year. A subset of these taxpayers could be subject to a penalty for underpayment,” the Iowa Republican said in a floor speech.

He then cited a January 3 letter that Finance ranking Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon sent to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig requesting taxpayers not be required to pay penalties for underpayments due to issues with insufficient withholding.

“I generally agree with the ranking member and have encouraged the IRS to be lenient on penalties, especially with this first time through the filing season under the new tax law,” Grassley said.

Grassley also said in his floor speech that he expected the “vast majority” of tax filers will end up having paid less in taxes for 2018, but those savings might not always be easy to see.

“Due to changes in withholding, a smaller or larger refund than usual may not tell the whole story. I encourage taxpayers to compare their 2019 tax return with that of the previous year to see the difference,” Grassley said. “Only then will they be able to be absolutely sure whether it benefited, or they didn’t benefit from the tax cut.”

Grassley’s speech came as the Treasury was recalling a reported 36,000 more IRS employees to deal with tax filing season.

“During this period, the IRS reminds taxpayers that the underlying tax laws remain in effect, and all taxpayers should continue to meet their tax obligations as normal,” the IRS said in a statement on Tuesday. “Individuals and businesses should keep filing their tax returns and making payments and deposits with the IRS, as they are required to do by law.”

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