If you were entitled to a big fat refund last year, or you think you may be entitled to a large refund check this year, you can start estimating your refund amount right now. Of course, there are no guarantees until the money’s actually in the bank, but you can get a pretty accurate idea of your refund amount using pay stubs from the month of December.
We’ve created a list of ways in which a person with a simple tax situation can calculate their refund using their paycheck stubs, online resources, and IRS forms. Want to find out if you’re owed a refund? Read on and see.
1. Online calculator tools
If you want to estimate your refund before you receive your W2, online calculator tools like Tax Slayer’s online calculator can produce this information for you within a few moments. First, you simply need to enter in your demographic info — like your age, the state you live in, whether or not you’re married, your filing status, whether or not you’re claiming dependents, whether or not you can be claimed as a dependent, and your number of exemptions.
After that, you can use your last paycheck stub to enter in your taxable wages for the year. You can determine your year-end taxable wages by adding your year-to-date taxable wages to any left over taxable wages not included in the pay stub your using.
The same idea applies for federal withholding and social security. Use the year-to-date amount, plus any additional amounts that you paid throughout the rest of 2016 to determine the appropriate number to enter into the online calculator.
Next, the calculator will ask if you want to opt for the standard deduction, or if you want to itemize your deductions. You can choose the standard deduction as a shortcut and later determine if itemizing your deductions is more beneficial for your individual situation.
The calculator will then ask you about tuition credits and other applicable tax benefits. You can apply the same amounts from your last year’s tax return into those boxes if nothing has changed. Or, you can leave them blank for the time being and determine the appropriate amounts come tax time.
Finally, the calculator will tell you your estimated refund amount. Although this is only an estimate, it is generally a solid ballpark figure. You can try and locate additional tax benefits and savings so that you can potentially increase this amount from now until tax time.