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Question for the Money Doctors

Question submitted on Mar 20, 2014.

Question

I recently got married and am trying to decide whether or not to change my W4 to married. I usually get a tax return. I know that changing my W4 to married means less taxes will be witheld, but will that come back to bite me at tax time, and should I then file married filing jointly or married filing separately? Which will end with me not paying taxes at tax time? FYI I make about 70k and my spouse only makes about 12k.

Answer

There are a number of different tactics to take.

1. You can project what your estimated total tax would be with your spouse's income by adding her income to your prior year return and subtract out her deductions. You will want to deduct what your spouse is having withheld from your spouse's check as well. Compare what the new estimated tax would be compared to what you are now having withheld. If you are on track, probably no significant changes.

2. You can take a look at a few resources to help you gauge how much will be withheld by changing to married. The following link on page 43 breaks it down by payroll period and income.

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p15.pdf

There is also an IRS calculator that may be of help.

http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/IRS-Withholding-Calculator

If you make a change, double check to verify that the withholding amount will be sufficient to cover the total tax liability for the year.


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