Halfway through this year I switched jobs. When I entered the first W2 my refund was about 4k. When I entered in the second W2 the refund decreased to 1k. Is this cause I moved to a different tax bracket? Or is it because something is wrong in how I filed?

  • 3
    Most likely it is simply because you had little or no tax due for the year when considering only the percentage of total income reported in part of the year (on your first w2). However, that is not all you earned. When you added the second one, your total income no doubt jumped and so did the tax due. It is NOT a linear scale when paying tax based on income in the United States.
    – Keith
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 18:08
  • Also, you might have been withholding at different rates on the two jobs, than if you'd had one job (earning the same total) for the whole year. I don't think its possible to say for sure without seeing your W2 & W4 forms.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 18:32
  • 1
    Your first W2 reflects half a year's pay, but with withholding for twice that amount. You need both the income from both W2s to determine if the withholding for the first job was too much or too little for your eventual annual income.
    – chepner
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 18:36
  • "Is this cause I moved to a different tax bracket?" Note that when you move into a higher bracket, only the portion of your income above the line get taxed at the rate for that bracket. The part of your income below the line still get taxed at the lower rates of the lower brackets they are part of. So the act of moving into a new bracket does not by itself have a significant effect on your tax.
    – user102008
    Commented Feb 25, 2018 at 2:35

1 Answer 1


Lets make this simple:

You get paid $x per month. And if your federal income tax would be $y a month. You change jobs after 1 month. You don't change anything else. Pay, benefits, 401K, state , and W-4 numbers don't change.

The first W-2 has a pay of $x and a withholding of $y. The 2nd W-2 has pay of $11x and withholding of $11y.

But after you enter the first W-2 into the software it sees your yearly income as $x. which means that they expected your withholding to be much less than $y, in fact it might even be zero. So all the withholding would be refunded.

Then you enter the second one. Now the numbers for the year are more reasonable.

This is a typical pattern for people with multiple W-2s.

  • 1
    +1, I think if you explained the role our progressive income tax plays in causing the variance between refunds after each W2 is input this answer would be more complete. Ie, tax burden on 100k income is not 10x higher than on 10k income, and that's why the expected refund is so large when only part the income is entered.
    – Hart CO
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 19:01

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