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Lev
Lev, Tax Advisor
Category: Tax
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Experience:  Taxes, Immigration, Labor Relations
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Help filling out W4. I live in Delaware, legally married

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Help filling out W4.

I live in Delaware, legally married but moving to Texas soon to start a new job. Husband is not relocating. How should I fill out W4 form? We are legally married but planning to separate and possibly filing for a divorce. Husband makes about 115k a year. I make about 65k a year. The form itself is confusing to me so I need someone to help me break it down. I'd like them to take out the most taxes so I'm not hit with any big surprises at the the end of the year. I'm not even sure if its better to file jointly or file individually. Can someone please advise the pros and cons of each? Maybe that would help me know where to start on completing the W4.

Lev :

Hi and welcome to our site!
Here is form W4 - http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw4.pdf
In simple terms - your filing is based on HOW you plan to file your income tax return for 2013.
If you will file a joint tax return with your spouse (regardless if you will separated or not) - I suggest to check the box "Married, but withhold at higher Single rate" on line 3 and use TWO allowances on line 5.
If you plan to file separate tax return - you might better to check the box "Single" on line 3 and use TWO allowances on line 5.

Lev :

These two options will produce the same withholding results.
TWO allowances on line 5 are based on following facts (1) no one else can claim you as a dependent (2) you have only one job.
We do not consider other deductions or if you will itemize - in this case you might get larger refund. But if there will not be much deductions or credits in additional to standard amounts - your refund will be minimal if any.

Lev :

Regardless if you are living together or separately - as long as you legally married - you may choose to file jointly of as "married filing separately" In some situations if you have a dependent - you might be eligible to use HOH - head of household filing status.
In general - if you will use "married filing separately" status - you could pay more taxes because some credits are not allowed. But to be precised - you will need to prepare your tax returns both ways and compare. If you will use a tax preparation software - there is an option to compare without preparing actual tax returns.
But in general - filing jointly would be more beneficial.

Customer:

Thank you for the prompt response. What is considered to be a dependent? I heard that filing separately would be better because it wouldn't bump us into the next tax bracket. Is this true? I think I am going to move forward with "married, but withhold at higher single rate". Since my husband makes more than I do, shouldn't he be HOH? Would I still check that off?

Lev :

What is considered to be a dependent?
Generally - you may view a dependent as your child who has no income, but you supporting him. You generally can take an exemption for each of your dependents. A dependent is your qualifying child or qualifying relative. You must list the social security number of any dependent for whom you claim an exemption.


If you are a dependent, you may not claim an exemption. If someone else – such as your parent – claims you as a dependent, you may not claim your personal exemption on your own tax return.

Lev :

I heard that filing separately would be better because it wouldn't bump us into the next tax bracket.
Tax rate schedule is different for filing jointly and for filing separately.
You may review it on the last page of this publication - www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i1040tt.pdf
Generally if your income is equal - your tax bracket would be the same.
But if your income is not equal as in your situation - if file separately - you spouse might be pushed into higher tax bracket.

Lev :

Since my husband makes more than I do, shouldn't he be HOH?
making more money is not the condition of being HOH...
Unmarried persons may be able to file as Head of Household if you meet all of the following requirements:
•You are unmarried or considered unmarried on the last day of the year and file a separate tax return.
•A spouse did not live in the home during the last 6 months of the year.
•You paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the year.
•The child or dependent lived with you.

Customer:

This has been very helpful. Thank you so much!

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