Married Filing Jointly - how do we correctly fill out our W4's?
April 8, 2009 2:50 PM   Subscribe

Married Filing Jointly - how do we correctly fill out our W4's?

Just finished filing our taxes for the year and owed a decent amount.

The person helping us file (not our normal tax guy, who moved out of state) wasn't extremely helpful in explaining why we owed money as compared to last year. A vague explanation was given saying that we might have not filled out our W4's properly and/or that we might be in a higher income/tax bracket than last year.

Looking over the W4 - we obviously need to complete the "Two earner's/multiple jobs worksheet". Do each of us complete that worksheet on our own w4 or does only one person need to complete the worksheet and fill in that w4 accordingly? (And if only one person does the worksheet, how does the other person fill out their w4 accordingly?)

A little additional info:
SO has the higher salary (and usually files as head of household)
No children
Zero dependents
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Not quite sure if I'm understanding you, but you each fill out your own W4; you don't do this jointly. You can each use the worksheet or not. You can each fill out your W4 differently if you want.

For example, you could do Married, One dependent [yourself], and he could do Single, Zero. You can always withhold at a higher rate (single is higher; less dependents = higher). so Single, Zero is the highest withholding and will result in more taxes being taken out of your checks.

Married people can very, very rarely file as head of household (I believe it only applies to separated parents caring for children or something). There's almost a zero chance that if your husband was filing as HOH that he was doing so correctly.
posted by peep at 3:09 PM on April 8, 2009

Use the IRS Withholding Calculator to adjust your W4s appropriately. You plug in the numbers, it spits out an answer. Easy as that.
posted by chrisamiller at 3:11 PM on April 8, 2009 [2 favorites] has a W-4 assistant as well. I've used it for the last few years as I've added kids and changed jobs and haven't owed any taxes.
posted by saffry at 3:26 PM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Options.... one thing that you can do is divide the amount that you paid (plus a little) by the number of paychecks that you will receive and put that number in the W-4 where it talks about additional withholding.

Whichever plan you use, I would look at the paychecks after your plan is in place and do the math to make sure that you'll get there. Fixing it now will be much better then finding your "oops" later.
posted by notned at 4:12 PM on April 8, 2009

This might be helpful.

I'd suggest talking to an accountant... and maybe getting a different tax guy for next year.
posted by jerseygirl at 6:46 PM on April 8, 2009

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