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The first tax season after the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was full of surprises. When the IRS published its weekly filing statistics during the last week of tax season , the numbers confirmed what many taxpayers were shocked to see when they finished their returns: namely, that tax refunds were both smaller and a bit harder to come by. The number of refunds decreased by 1.9%, while their size decreased by 1.3% (or about $36–this is a correction from the $55 reported on the show). In this episode we talk about what happened and why, our national love affair with tax refunds, corporate tax avoidance, and why the IRS isn’t pursuing as many investigations despite new data that reveals that more people are cheating on their taxes. Finally, we end with some tips to help you plan ahead for next year.
Talk to us: If you could describe your tax season experience in 5 words, what would they be? Let us know—we’re @financeflipside on all social media? If you’d prefer, you can also email us: [email protected]
From the US Department of the Treasury: How much did the US government collect and spend in 2018?
Here is another outline of tax law changes, this time for businesses.
If you want an inside look at the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that combines analysis (and admittedly, pointed critique) with journalistic flair, the Center for Public Integrity has partnered with The Guardian for a deep dive into the origins and impact of the law.
“In 1998, only about 5,000 employers hadn’t paid their payroll taxes in at least five years. By December 2015, according to IRS records, the number had more than tripled to 17,000.” :Millions are cheating on their taxes, but fewer people are getting caught.
Some tax savings appear to be shaking out along party lines, with those in Republican-leaning states benefiting more from the new tax law’s limits on state and local tax deductions.
Still stewing about your tax refund? Adjust your withholding. The IRS explains how here.
“Half the respondents to a new survey [of small business owners] saw their tax bill drop. Some tout the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as a reason. Another equal amount reported their tax bill remained the same.”