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How do I find out why I owe taxes?

I called state and they didn’t know and federal didn’t either. What do I do?
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5 Replies
Level 15
Level 15

How do I find out why I owe taxes?

You owe money because the amount of tax that you had withheld from your pay during the year is less than your total tax for the year on your tax return. You have to make up the difference when you file your tax return.

On your 2022 federal tax return, the total tax that you have to pay for the year is on Form 1040 line 24. Your total withholding and other payments that you made during the year is on line 33. If line 33 is less than line 24, you owe the difference. Look for similar lines on your state tax return.

There's nothing wrong with owing a reasonable amount on your tax return. It simply means that you did not give the government an interest-free loan. But if you would rather have the government hold more of your money and send some of it back to you at the end of the year, you can ask your employer to withhold more tax from your pay.

If you did not owe tax last year, compare last year's and this year's tax returns line by line and see where the significant differences are. That will give you an indication of what changed.


How do I find out why I owe taxes?

@cassiem8303-gmai the money withheld on your paycheck is simply a downpayment against what the tax is. 


taxes are ONLY calculated on a tax return (and not via your paycheck or a W-4). 


The taxes are calculated on the tax return, the down payment is subtracted from that and what is left results in a refund or more money owed.  


the reason you owe and didn't get a refund was the downpayment wasn't high enough.

How do I find out why I owe taxes?

Who says you owe taxes?  And what do you mean?


Do you mean you got a phone call asking you to pay some taxes?  That's probably a scam.  The IRS and state send letters.  If you got a call from someone claiming to be a collections agency, a tax debt wouldn't be sent to a legitimate collections agency until after you had ignored many letters from the state (the IRS doesn't use collections agencys but a state might.)  If you check with the IRS and the state and you don't owe a current payment, then the phone call is almost definitely a scam.


Did you get an official letter?  What is the type of letter (shown in the top right corner) and what exactly does it say?  The state or IRS may have adjusted your tax return and added income that they think you forgot, or they denied a deduction you claimed.  We need more information to help you. 


Are you asking in general, why do you owe a payment this year instead of getting a refund?  Print your return and review it, it's just addition and subtraction.  You probably did not have enough withholding from your job.  There can be several reasons for this, we would have to know more about your situation.  The government won't be able to explain your tax situation to you if you haven't filed yet because they can't see your tax return until you file.

*Answers are correct to the best of my ability at the time of posting but do not constitute legal or tax advice.*

How do I find out why I owe taxes?

I did receive a letter in the mail. I called state first with the number on the letter. The man looked it all up and said he couldn't tell any reason I owed. He said he gave me an90 day extension & gave me federals number. So I called federal and she had no clue either. I received a tax warrent before my 90 days was up. Also when I filed my taxes. It got approved& gave me the amount I should receive back. Well I only got half of that. Only 1 check came actually. And I've only ever received 1. The very first of those stimulus checks. I can't understand that either. On the letter I received it has a little breakdown of what I still owe. I can't even figure out wher3 those numbers came from. I'm lost.

How do I find out why I owe taxes?


Did the letter come from the state or the IRS?  Remember they are completely different agencies with different rules.  Also, when you talk about your expected refund, remember that the state and federal refunds are completely separate, they don't come together and one might be paid while the other is reduced or delayed.  Only the agency that sent the letter can explain why they sent it.  


If this is an IRS letter, you can contact the taxpayer advocate service, they should help explain things for you.



If this is a state letter, you will have to keep working with the state.


You may also need to hire a tax professional to help you understand your situation, if you have issues that cover many years (the stimulus was only in 2020 and 2021).


If you are low income, you can contact the VITA program to have a trained volunteer help you.



*Answers are correct to the best of my ability at the time of posting but do not constitute legal or tax advice.*
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