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How to Complete a W-4 if You’re Married

Posted by on January 13, 2016
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How to Complete a W-4 if You’re Married

Tie the knot in your life and also on your taxes.

The honeymoon is over and it’s back to reality. With such a huge change in your life, it’s important to pay attention to how it will affect your taxes. Once the wedding bells in your head subside, update your W-4 form with your employer.

Completing a W-4 form can be intimidating especially knowing that your paycheck depends on it. Don’t let your tax return take the fun out of your recent marriage. Let us help you fill out your W-4 so that you can still break even this tax season!


You just got married.

Congrats to all of you newlyweds out there! Once you’ve found a place in your cabinets for all of those trinkets on your Bed Bath & Beyond registry, make sure you speak with your employer. You may or may not know already but filing a joint tax return screams ‘tax benefits’!

You should update your W-4 form to reflect your married filing status ASAP. You’ll want to do this as soon as possible so that it reflects on your tax return when you file for the year.

As a married couple with two sources of income, your tax rate is bound to change. Be sure to sit down with your spouse and discuss the household income you’ll both be bringing in. If one of you makes significantly less income, your joint tax rate could be brought down. What if one spouse is earning significantly more? You could be entering into a higher tax bracket.


You’re married… and just had a baby!

Babies probably play the biggest role in tax benefits. Funny…considering they can hardly utter ‘W’ or ‘4’. When you have a baby, you can claim an additional allowance. As a married couple planning to file a joint return, it is recommended that the spouse earning the higher income claim the additional allowance(s). The other spouse will not need to update their W-4 form. You may also qualify for the Child Tax Credit or Child Care Tax Credit depending on your income.  

Claiming a higher amount of allowances on your W-4 form will allow for less to be withheld from your paychecks. If you leave your withholdings as-is, your tax refund may be larger than necessary. Plus, you’ll probably need a little extra for Pampers and ear plugs (kidding!) throughout the year.


You’re married… and no longer a single parent.

It is typical for a single parent to file as Head of Household. After getting married, you are usually no longer eligible to claim head of household. It is important to remember to update this information once you tie the knot. Claiming that additional allowance could cause too little to be withheld for taxes. You don’t want to risk losing out on benefits that apply to you as a married couple.


You’re married… and your spouse got a new job.

Aside from renting a UHaul or finding a daycare center nearby, your W-4 will also be going through some changes. A new source of income or an increase in income to the household can alter the tax bracket for joint filers.

As you’ll see right under Line H of the W-4 form, if you earn a combined income of more than $20,000, you will be directed to complete the Two-Earners worksheet. This is 100% optional and is just to ensure that you are having enough withheld to cover taxes so that you do not owe more than expected come tax time.


You’re married… and your spouse is unemployed.

It’s getting more and more common for one parent to stay at home with the kids. It’s also not as surprising when companies downsize and employees are no longer needed. Whatever the case may be, it is important to have this reported correctly on your W-4.

As the spouse bringing in the total household income now, you’ll want to adjust your allowances accordingly. This means claiming those additional allowances that your spouse was claiming for your dependents. 


You just got divorced.

With marriage, there is always the possibility of divorce. Divorce is another life change that will:

  • alter your tax bracket
  • alter your filing status
  • alter your W-4 withholding

Although it may be a tough time, we are here to help. Take a look at our other article geared toward divorced taxpayers HERE.


You didn’t rush through the wedding. Don’t rush through your W-4!

Don’t rush into claiming allowances that may not make sense. Take a look at the W-4 form at home in your own time. This will help you avoid unnecessary updates due to not being given the time to figure out your specific tax situation. If you have questions, you can always contact our team here at Priortax via phone, email or live-chat.

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