More than 100 million American workers are finding a little something extra in their take-home pay these days. But many of them aren't going to take it any more.
So they're filing new W-4 forms - voting with their paychecks against President Bush's election-year plan to nudge consumer spending a bit by reducing tax withholding. These taxpayers still prefer to get less now and a bigger tax refund later.In short, many are using the Internal Revenue Service as a way to force themselves to save, at least from one tax year to the next, even though they make no interest on that money. For others, the greater withholding is a hedge against the chance they would wind up owing the IRS a check at tax time.
"People have always had the choice of lowering their withholding, but they clearly want to get that lump-sum rebate," said Tom Bloch, president of H&R Block, Inc., whose tax specialists prepare more than 12 million returns a year. "Now they are saying in overwhelming numbers that they don't like what the president has done."
What Bush did was direct that employers reduce income taxes withheld by about $3 a week for single people and $6 for married workers, starting with paychecks issued after Feb. 28.
This would pump an extra $2 billion a month into the sluggish economy, Bush noted. Besides, he said in his State of the Union address, families need that money now "to help pay for clothing, college or to get a new car."
A check of more than a dozen big employers this week showed large numbers of workers are filing new W-4 forms, directing their employers to go back to the higher withholding rates. Without those forms, a single worker will find next year's refund down by as much as $172, a married worker by $345 and a two-earner couple by up to $690.
At Hallmark Card headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., spokesman Adrienne Lallo said as many as 40 percent of the 6,700 employees want to make sure their refunds are not reduced.