Academic-Year Paycheck Options

Tax Issues

Due to the methodology that the IRS uses for calculating Federal tax withholding, some nine-month employees are subject to higher marginal tax rates than they would be if they worked all twelve months of the year. As a result, more of their paycheck is withheld to cover their expected tax burden. While they typically receive much of their money back as a refund when they file their income tax, this still represents a significant impact on the overall availability of the money they’ve earned. We estimate that 25% of all nine-month employees are affected by this issue.

In order to help employees establish a level of tax withholding that more closely aligns with their actual tax obligation, we have made the following resources available:

Tax Withholding Questions and Answers

As a 9-month employee, it seems like I am getting a large tax refund at the end of the year, even though my withholdings seem appropriate. Why?
Based upon the way marginal tax brackets work, approximately 25% of all 9-month employees may have a higher tax withholding bracket for each monthly paycheck compared to a monthly salary paid out over a twelve-month period. While these employees will typically receive this money back in the form of a tax refund, being taxed at this inflated rate may create a budgeting issue for some individuals.
Is there something I can do to decrease my tax withholding?

Yes. Employees may want to adjust the number of exemptions claimed on their W-4 form. While the UW neither encourages nor discourages taking this action, this is always an option.

Use caution, if you increase your exemptions it is possible that you will owe money at tax time.

Does it change how much money I owe for taxes at the end of the year?
No, the amount owed to the IRS does not change.
Can all employees adjust their withholding amounts?
No, some employees are unable to adjust their withholdings due to IRS restrictions.
How do I know if I have an IRS restriction?

If the IRS sets your withholding allowance, you would have received a lock-in letter from the IRS indicating what your withholding allowance is.

If the IRS sets your allowances or withholdings you are unable to make changes.

Should I change my withholdings?
We are unable to make recommendations, however feel free to check out the IRS site: IRS Withholding Calculator
If I decide to change my withholding, how can I make this change? Where do I get the W-4 form for this?
Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate

Paycheck Modeling

To further assist with understanding what impacts the above changes will have on your take home pay, consider using an online paycheck modeling tool. Paycheck modelers can simulate the effect changing deductions, withholdings and other items will have on your paycheck and net pay. It allows you to investigate various ‘what-if’ scenarios.

For example, you can calculate what your net pay would be if you increased your federal withholding exemptions.

While we cannot promote the use of or guarantee the accuracy of one single tool, below is a list of some that are available. You can also find a variety of additional tools available on the internet.

Jump to: Cash Flow Issues

This document is for information purposes only and is not meant to provide financial or tax advice. Any changes you make are at your own risk.