I'm assuming you didn't change your W-4 from one year to the other and that no mistakes were made with the tax filing and so on since I'd expect you've already looked into these things...
You mention that your income was similar but you don't mention the number of sources for the income...this is kind of important. You see, employers aren't required to hold out taxes on the first chunk of money you make because it's assumed that you'll have a personal deduction that will make that first portion of income tax exempt; however, if you work multiple jobs in a year, that means that each employer will use this amount, meaning you will have used up that "exemption" multiple times. This doubling up causes you to not have enough taxes withheld so you'll owe money when you file. You'll find that this happens to MANY individuals when they work two jobs at once or multiple jobs in the same year because they don't set their W4 withholdings correctly.
Your best bet, if you don't want to owe, is to set your main W4 exemptions (the job where you earn the bulk of your money) as you normally would - single (1), married w/ no kids (2), single with a child (2), etc. - and then for a second/third job, set the W-4 exemptions to "0" so that more tax is withheld. Keep in mind, this is just a basic rule of thumb, everyone's situations are different depending upon number of jobs worked, income from each job, and so on.
Depending upon how much you're earning, it's also possible your additional $5,000 income pushed you into a higher tax bracket, which would have compounded the issue, but not by a tremendous amount...
If none of what I've mentioned above applies to your situation, then I'd doublecheck the amounts entered on the 1040 for your income and taxes withheld - make sure it agrees with your W-2(s). If those amounts are accurate, then I'd look into the possibility that the employer failed to withhold correctly, creating the amount owed - I'd talk to your employer and ask why only $200 more was withheld when you made $5,000 more (which equals only 4% withholding), assuming this was all income from one employer for the year. The employer should be able to explain how they determined the amount withheld, which is required to be in accordance with federal guidelines and the exemptions you noted on your W-4.
· 10 years ago