0

I received my bonus recently, but it was combined with my normal monthly check. The bonus the company gives out is 4 times the monthly pay, which combined with my regular pay is 5 times more... this takes me way above my normal tax bracket. I definitely didn't expect this, as my combined bonus+paycheck was deducted ~33%. From my understanding, bonuses are taxed at a flat rate of 25%, and at my normal tax bracket my paycheck is also deducted about 25%, so there seems to be a lot of money missing here... Will this difference be given back in my next tax return or is it possible to return the check and modify how it's calculated if I talk to payroll?

The paystub clearly separates the bonus from the paycheck in two categories, but I don't know why they were taxed as if it was a combined regular paycheck. Any ideas?

EDIT: I'm in the state of Washington, USA.

  • 6
    This is definitely a duplicate question. It's mostly important to understand that taxes withheld from pay are just withholdings and your withheld tax payments will be reconciled with your actual taxs due when you file your return(s) for 2017. When you file your return(s) you will either owe more or receive a refund of overpaid taxes. Bonuses are not taxed differently than income, there are just different withholding rules. – quid Mar 13 '17 at 21:48
6

This is an old question, but I don't see the kind of answer that I would have given. Since the question is still valid for others, going ahead and answering.

From my understanding, bonuses are taxed at a flat rate of 25%

Your understanding is incorrect. Bonuses are taxed like any other employment income, anywhere from 0% to 39.6% (at the time of this question; the top rate is lower now).

The paystub clearly separates the bonus from the paycheck in two categories, but I don't know why they were taxed as if it was a combined regular paycheck. Any ideas?

Because there is no difference between bonus income and wage/salary income. So it just appears as one big lump. This is typical.

Will this difference be given back in my next tax return or is it possible to return the check and modify how it's calculated if I talk to payroll?

You can't change the check in any meaningful fashion. You could conceivably modify your withholding for future checks. But the simplest way is to just wait until the end of the year. If your employer withheld more than is necessary, you will get a tax refund. If not, you may owe money. The bonus makes it more likely that you will get a refund, as the withholding tables don't handle variable pay well. Withholding will have no effect on how much tax is owed on your income. It will only change how much has already been paid.

You could calculate your overall tax liability using an estimate for future income for the rest of the year. If it shows that you are getting a refund, you can adjust your withholding for the remainder of the year to reduce that amount. Be careful though, if you don't withhold enough, the IRS will penalize you with both interest and a fine. The only disadvantage to withholding too much is that you lose the interest or investment returns from the money. It is riskier to withhold too much than too little.

If you do adjust your withholding, remember to adjust it back later. You don't want to withhold too little next year either. My recommendation though is just to take care of it with the normal tax filing. The modest benefits from having more money for a year aren't worth the risks in my opinion.

  • Bonuses can be taxed at 25%. It's all up to the employer and how they configure the payroll system. (That's according to my ex-wife who works as an office manager and does payroll.) – RonJohn May 27 at 18:12
3

I disagree with @Sam's answers:

yes you will get that money back when your tax return is processed.

This is not true. You will receive funds that are in excess of your liability (contrary to popular belief, the government does not take more than what you are liable for).


"is it possible to return the check and modify how it's calculated if I talk to payroll?"

No. When you sign your documents at the beginning of the year, that will dictate the amount of liability they take from each of your paychecks.

"Will this difference be given back in my next tax return"

Because your company is withdrawing 25% on your paycheck you may/or may not need to pay more depending on the rest of your salary.

The IRS has set the system up as brackets. You pay your taxes based on the amount earned (voluntarily or involuntarily). So if you have income of $9,275 you would pay $923 in taxes at a marginal rate of 10% (and average rate of 10%). If you made $10,000, you would pay $923+$109=$1,032 with your marginal rate as 15% (while your average rate is 10.31%).

All in all, this is dependent on your salary, filing, and other deductions to raise or lower your tax liability.

Note: The $109 came from this: [(10,000-9,275)*.15]

  • 1
    +1, exactly. You might get some or all of it back, you might owe more. It will all shake out when you file your return and determine your actual tax liability. – quid Mar 14 '17 at 21:47
  • You will get that money back. The government might just take it to cover other tax liabilities. Asker was asking if he would lose that money, he will not. He might not see it, but he will get it. – Sam Mar 14 '17 at 22:05
  • 2
    One correction most companies let you submit a new W4 form to update withholding calculations at anytime. That said you are most likely correct in that leaving the withholdings alone is probably best, so add to avoid any negative surprises next year at tax time. – Eric Johnson Mar 14 '17 at 23:00
  • @Sam, he might not get the money back. He might receive some sort of income this year that didn't have anything withheld or any number of other tax events could occur. If he has overpaid through the year he will receive a refund of the amount overpaid, which is not necessarily the amount withheld from this check, and not necessarily anything. – quid Mar 14 '17 at 23:47
-4

"Will this difference be given back in my next tax return"

If you compute your taxes correctly, yes you will get that money back when your tax return is processed.

"is it possible to return the check and modify how it's calculated if I talk to payroll?"

That is entirely up to your company but, probably not. It's a lot of effort for a comparatively small amount of money.

"Any ideas?"

Yeah, you are doing your math wrong. A possible but more unlikely answer is your company's software screwed up.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.