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baskim19
New Member

Should my husband and I have the same W-4 inputs to calculate our federal withholding?

I will be starting a new job in the new year. As such, my husband and I will earn a combined income of ~$250k in base compensation. Based on my W-4 inputs, I should claim 0 exemptions and have an additional $420.00 withheld per paycheck. Should my husband claim the same and also have the same additional $420.00 amount withheld per pay? -OR- are we supposed to divide the $420.00 and each have $210.00 withheld per pay?  

1 Best answer

Accepted Solutions
Opus 17
Level 15

Should my husband and I have the same W-4 inputs to calculate our federal withholding?

If you use the worksheets on the W-4, the instructions say to fill out one worksheet for both of you, including your combined income and deductions, and then split the allowances between you.  (If the worksheet says to claim 4 allowances, you can claim 0 and 4, or 2 and 2, but not 4 and 4).  The instructions also say that in most cases, the withholding will be more accurate if all the allowances go to the higher earning taxpayer and the lower earning taxpayer claims single with zero. 

The IRS calculator is also very good but you won't be able to use it to adjust your 2019 withholding until after your first paychecks in January 2019.  (If you used it now, it would tell you only about the last pay period of 2018.)

*Answers are correct to the best of my ability at the time of posting but do not constitute legal or tax advice.*

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8 Replies
Critter
Level 15

Should my husband and I have the same W-4 inputs to calculate our federal withholding?

At your income level may I suggest that the larger income claim married and Zero allowances on the W-4  and the lower wage earner file married but withhold at the higher SINGLE rate and zero allowances.
rjs
Level 15
Level 15

Should my husband and I have the same W-4 inputs to calculate our federal withholding?

You can use the Withholding Calculator on the IRS web site to figure out what you should each put on your W-4 forms. Run the calculator once for the two of you together. The IRS Withholding Calculator is at the following link.

<a rel="nofollow" target="_blank" href="https://www.irs.gov/individuals/irs-withholding-calculator">https://www.irs.gov/individuals/irs-with...>
nschloed
New Member

Should my husband and I have the same W-4 inputs to calculate our federal withholding?

Was there ever a response about the additional tax burden? Is the $420 in additional withholding only required by one spouse (for a total of $420 paid to taxes) or by both spouses ($840 paid to taxes).
rjs
Level 15
Level 15

Should my husband and I have the same W-4 inputs to calculate our federal withholding?

@nschloed  When you run the IRS Withholding Calculator for a couple filing jointly, the results displayed by the calculator clearly explain how any additional withholding should be allocated.
Opus 17
Level 15

Should my husband and I have the same W-4 inputs to calculate our federal withholding?

If you use the worksheets on the W-4, the instructions say to fill out one worksheet for both of you, including your combined income and deductions, and then split the allowances between you.  (If the worksheet says to claim 4 allowances, you can claim 0 and 4, or 2 and 2, but not 4 and 4).  The instructions also say that in most cases, the withholding will be more accurate if all the allowances go to the higher earning taxpayer and the lower earning taxpayer claims single with zero. 

The IRS calculator is also very good but you won't be able to use it to adjust your 2019 withholding until after your first paychecks in January 2019.  (If you used it now, it would tell you only about the last pay period of 2018.)

*Answers are correct to the best of my ability at the time of posting but do not constitute legal or tax advice.*
reony
Level 2

Should my husband and I have the same W-4 inputs to calculate our federal withholding?

2021 here now.

 

I have a similar situation. Me being the highest income. I went through the worksheet and got my Extra Witholding amount.

 

Now I keep reading that the lower paid spouse should claim zero. Does that mean my wife chooses "Exempt"? Or that she doesn't add any extra withholding amount?

 

@Opus17 are you saying my wife should file as "Single" (not married)?? Please confirm, thanks! 

xmasbaby0
Level 15

Should my husband and I have the same W-4 inputs to calculate our federal withholding?

@reony This thread that is dated from 2019 might be a lot older.   When the old user forum changed from Answer Xchange to Real Money Talk in mid-2019 a lot of old threads migrated over with 2019 dates.   You might be reading outdated information that was entered here before the tax laws changed for 2018 and beyond--so be careful when you read anything dated 2019 in the user forum.

 

No, your spouse should not say she is exempt.   She is not exempt from paying tax.   She will not "file" as single.  If you are legally married then the filing choices are married filing separately or married filing jointly.   The W-4 you give to employer does not dictate how you file your tax return.   It only tells the employer how much tax to withhold from your paychecks.

 

 

Here is some information that may help you with how to complete your W-4's for your employers.

 

https://ttlc.intuit.com/community/tax-topics/help/what-to-know-about-the-new-2020-irs-form-w-4-emplo...

 

 

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw4.pdf

 

 

https://www.irs.gov/individuals/tax-withholding-estimator

**Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to offer the most correct information possible. The poster disclaims any legal responsibility for the accuracy of the information that is contained in this post.**
reony
Level 2

Should my husband and I have the same W-4 inputs to calculate our federal withholding?

(Ah yes you're right. Thanks for pointing that out.)

That's what I thought too, thank you for clarifying! I'm doing it correctly then. 😊

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