Tax Allowance to claim with 4 PT jobs and Low Income?
May 29, 2016 8:26 AM   Subscribe

After a confusing tax season, I'm trying to figure out how many allowances to claim on my W-4s. I have 4 part-time jobs, am in a masters program, and barely live above poverty line (really killin it at life in NYC). I currently claim exempt, but was just told that's actually completely wrong. And I am single, no kids. What should I claim?
posted by Kombucha3452 to Work & Money (6 answers total)
Who told you it's "completely wrong" to claim exemption from withholding, and what was the rationale? If, when you file your actual tax returns, you owe a significant amount of money to the IRS (and/or state), then you should not apply for no withholding,, but rather claim allowance of 0 or 1, so that you get a refund. If you claim 1 exemption and get back more than was withheld (which can happen, if you get earned income credit and other tax benefits for people "barely above the poverty line") then you might consider claiming 3 or 4 exemptions, so that you don't owe in April, but the government does not hold on to your hard-earned money for the whole year. In an ideal world, you break even, where the amount withheld is the exact amount due and you owe nothing when you file your return. But if your total income from all 4 jobs together is less than $10k, you will not owe any tax and should go on and claim no withholding. I am uncertain how you could possibly survive in NYC on less than 10k though.
posted by RRgal at 8:59 AM on May 29, 2016

It used to be that you could designate a dollar amount to be withheld, rather than a number of exemption. I used to take last year's taxes, divide by 12 (or 26 or however many pay periods you have), and set that as the withholding (with 99 exemptions to make the automatically-calculated amount be 0). That always worked better for me; the exemptions calculation always worked out that I was loaning the government a few thousand dollars at 0% interest.
posted by spacewrench at 9:28 AM on May 29, 2016

Try this website to calculate your exemptions. It will even print the form out for you to give payroll.

Paycheck city w-4 assistant
posted by saffry at 9:35 AM on May 29, 2016

I would also look at your highest earning job and plan to withhold all your taxes from that. Then have no withholding from your smaller or less regular jobs. Try to access some kind of cheap financial help from student services so that you can get it right.
posted by amanda at 10:31 AM on May 29, 2016

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who generally make $53,000 or less - to find a local VITA site, use the VITA Locator Tool or call 800-906-9887.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:35 PM on May 29, 2016

The IRS offers an online withholding calculator that might be able to help figure your exemption count better.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:59 PM on May 29, 2016

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