How to Fill Out a W4 When Filing Taxes Together as Married

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Get the right amount of tax withheld by working with your spouse to fill out W4 forms.
Get the right amount of tax withheld by working with your spouse to fill out W4 forms. (Image: Buccina Studios/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Employers deduct payroll taxes every payday so that your taxes are paid as you earn income. The goal is to pay your taxes during the year so you don’t have a huge tax liability when you file your tax return. Employers use information on W4 forms to figure the right amount of tax to withhold. When you file a joint return, you and your spouse need to work together filling out W4 forms. The Internal Revenue Service recommends completing a single W4 worksheet and dividing the withholding allowances among the W4s you and your spouse give your employers.

Complete the worksheet attached to the W4 form to determine how many withholding allowances to claim. On line A of the worksheet, enter 1 for yourself unless someone will claim you as a dependent.

Enter 1 on line B if you work just one job and your spouse doesn’t work. Enter 0 on line B if your spouse works or you have another job and the combined earnings from these extra jobs is more than $1,500 for the year. Enter 1 on line C for your spouse. You can enter 0 if your spouse works or if you have a second job.

Enter the number of dependents you claim on line D. For instance, if you have three dependent children, enter 3. Do not count your spouse as a dependent. Skip line E – it’s just for unmarried taxpayers who claim head of household. Write 1 on line F if you pay at least $2,000 for someone to watch your children while you and your spouse work. This allows you to get the money for the Child and Dependent Care Credit now instead of waiting until you file taxes.

Reduce your payroll taxes to get the benefit of the Child Tax Credit by entering 2 for each child age 16 or younger on line G. A married couple’s combined income must be under $100,000 to claim allowances for the CTC. If you have two to four children, subtract 1 from the total. Subtract 2 if you have more than four dependent children. For example, if you have three children, enter 2 for each child, less 1, for a total of 5 allowances.

Add up lines A to G and enter on line H of the worksheet.

Complete the W4 form by entering your name, address, Social Security number and filing status on lines 1 to 4. Put the total withholding allowances claimed from line H of the worksheet on line 5 of the W4. If you have non-wage income like investment profits or interest earnings, you can have extra tax withheld by entering a dollar amount on line 6. Line 7 is only for people who don’t make enough to owe income taxes. Sign and date the form and submit it to your employer.

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