Today when I attempted to file my taxes, I was surprised to find that rather than having a tax refund, I in fact owe nearly $3,000 to the state and federal government. I discovered that this was due to having failed to have federal income tax withheld from my paychecks. I was unaware that these taxes were not being taken out of each paycheck.
In the summer of 2011 I graduated from college, and in the fall of 2011 I started my current job as a part-time, temporary employee
as a legal assistant in a small firm in the State of Georgia. Since I only worked a few days per week at a low hourly rate, I originally claimed zero (0) exemptions
and zero (0) allowances for federal and state taxes. When it came time to file taxes for 2011, I had not made enough to be required to file. In the summer of 2012 I became a salary, full-time employee (and my income increased). When my employment status changed from part-time to full-time/salary, however, the Human Resources department at my place of employment did not inform or recommend any changes that needed to be made to my deductions. Now I am looking at a W-2 that shows $0.00 for Federal Income tax withheld and I am three grand in debt.
In that this is my first job and my first time filing taxes, I did not understand the process and I was unaware that the federal government was not taking taxes out of each pay check during the year of 2012. I saw that money was being taken out of my paychecks (which I now understand was for Social Security and Medicare), however, I assumed that this money was going toward taxes. I believe that the human resources department, the individual in charge of payroll, or perhaps ADP (the program used for payroll at my place of employment) is to blame for this mishap. I believe that I should have been informed of my deductions and that alternative options should have been presented to me to avoid paying such a large sum of money all at once at the end of the 2012 tax period.
With your knowledge and expertise as guidance, please advise if you believe I should approach my boss (the head attorney in our small firm), the IRS, a local tax expert, or another individual or entity for advice and assistance. I am unsure of what my next steps should be, and I am very concerned about the taxes that I owe, which I cannot afford as an individual financing a car, paying back student loans
, and just trying to get on my feet as a young adult.
All advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you.