Skip to Main Content



Call now
Liberty Tax logo



Unraveling the factors behind your tax bill

frustrated woman with tax bill

Whether you're a seasoned taxpayer or just beginning your financial journey, the complexities of tax codes can be overwhelming. One common situation that leaves many scratching their head is unexpectedly owing taxes when they file their returns. In this article, we aim to shed light on the factors that can lead to owing taxes, helping you understand why it happens and how to potentially avoid it in the future.

Determinants of Tax Liability

In the realm of taxes, your financial situation is like a moving target. Various factors can significantly impact the amount you owe or the refund you receive when you file your tax return. These determinants can range from changes in your income to life-altering events. Understanding these influences can help you navigate tax season with greater confidence and financial savvy.

Changes in Income

Changes in your income can significantly impact your tax liability. If you've experienced an increase in income, either from a new job, a raise, or additional sources of revenue, it may push you into a higher tax bracket. As a result, your tax bill could increase, and you might find yourself owing more than expected. It's essential to keep track of these changes and understand their implications when tax season rolls around.

Insufficient Withholding

Withholding refers to the amount of income tax your employer deducts from your paycheck and remits to the IRS on your behalf. If your withholding is insufficient, you'll owe taxes when you file your return. This can occur if you claimed too many allowances on your W-4 form or if you have multiple sources of income that aren't adequately withheld. Reviewing and adjusting your withholding can help prevent this issue.

Deductions and Tax Credits

Deductions and tax credits play a crucial role in reducing your tax liability. If you experienced changes in your eligibility for deductions or credits, it could result in owing taxes. For example, if you previously qualified for certain deductions, such as mortgage interest or student loan interest, and no longer meet the criteria, your taxable income may increase, leading to a higher tax bill.

Self-Employment and Gig Economy

If you're self-employed or work in the gig economy, you're responsible for paying both income and self-employment taxes. Self-employed individuals often owe taxes because they're required to cover both the employer and employee portions of Social Security and Medicare taxes. Keeping accurate records of income and expenses is vital for managing your tax liability in these situations.

Investment Income

Various types of investment income, such as dividends, capital gains, or interest income, can impact your tax liability. If you've earned more investment income than expected or if your investments resulted in capital gains, you may owe taxes on those earnings. Understanding the tax implications of your investments can help you plan accordingly.

Life Events

Life events, such as marriage, divorce, having children, or buying a home, can influence your tax situation. These events may change your filing status, eligibility for certain deductions, or tax credits. For instance, while marriage can lead to potential tax benefits, divorce might have the opposite effect. Owning a home can result in deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes, reducing your tax liability.

Importance of Tax Planning and Tips

Proactive tax planning is vital throughout the year to ensure you're not caught off guard by unexpected tax bills. It empowers individuals to make informed financial decisions, take advantage of tax-saving opportunities, and maintain financial stability. Here are some planning tips to help you avoid surprises and optimize your tax situation:

    • Keep Detailed Records: Maintain organized records of income, expenses, and financial transactions. Accurate records make it easier to claim deductions and credits you qualify for.
    • Review Your Withholding: Periodically review your W-4 form to ensure the correct amount of tax is withheld from your paycheck. Adjust it if necessary to prevent underpayment.
    • Maximize Deductions: Stay informed about available deductions and credits. For instance, if you're a homeowner, ensure you claim deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes.
    • Invest Wisely: Understand the tax implications of your investments. Consider tax-efficient investment strategies to minimize the impact on your tax liability.
    • Contribute to Retirement Accounts: Contributing to retirement accounts like a 401(k) or IRA can reduce your taxable income. Take advantage of these opportunities to save for the future while lowering your tax bill.


Navigating the complexities of taxes and avoiding unexpected bills requires careful planning and expert guidance. Liberty Tax’s team of experienced tax professionals is here to assist you. Whether you need help with proactive tax planning, maximizing deductions, or understanding the ever-changing tax codes, we've got you covered. Schedule a consultation today and gain peace of mind knowing you're in control of your financial future.

Common Questions

How can I estimate my tax liability throughout the year?

You can estimate your tax liability by using tax calculators, keeping track of your income and expenses, and consulting with a tax professional for more accurate projections.

What strategies can help me avoid owing taxes when I file my return?

Implementing strategies like adjusting your withholding, maximizing deductions, and staying informed about changes in tax laws can help you avoid unexpected tax bills.

Are there any tax credits or deductions I might be missing out on?

Tax laws can be complex, and you might not be aware of all the credits and deductions available to you. Consulting a tax professional can help identify potential savings opportunities.

What should I do if I can't pay the taxes I owe by the filing deadline?

If you can't pay your tax bill in full, you can explore options like setting up an installment agreement with the IRS or applying for a short-term extension. It's essential to address the issue promptly to avoid penalties and interest.