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Robin D.
Robin D., Senior Tax Advisor 4
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 15606
Experience:  15years with H & R Block. Divisional leader, Instructor
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I have a safe harbor of 225,000. i am told that the courts

Customer Question

i have a safe harbor of 225,000. i am told that the courts would use my W2 to determine my salary. i am getting close to going over my safe harbor amount so i want to keep it under that 225k. would contributing to my 401k lower the amount shown on my w2?
JA: Since laws vary from place to place, what state is this in?
Customer: ct
JA: Has either party filed anything in family court? If so, what?
Customer: already divorced, just a question moving forward. no, no one has filed anything
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: thats it, just want to stay below my safe harbor so my support amount will not change
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Tax
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
They say the W2 will be the governing document to determine my salary for that year. I know contributing money to my 401k will lower the amount shown in box 1 on my W2. is this a good strategy to stay below my safe harbor amount of 225k? anything else I should know about or can they use another method to determine my salary?
Expert:  Robin D. replied 1 year ago.


Generally, contributions to your 401(k) plan will show up in box 12 of your W-2 form, with the letter code D.

These amounts are deducted form wages which are reported in Box 1 of your W2 for income tax. That is why they are called "pre-taxed". They are not used to reduce boxes 3 and 5 for SS and Medicare tax.

If you can increase your 401k contributions then that strategy would reduce your wages shown for income tax in Box 1.

The limit on employee elective deferrals (for traditional and safe harbor plans) is:

  • $18,000 in 2016
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok great. So would that help me? Or would they use boxes 3 and 5 to say I earned more and there fore I'm over my safe harbor which would result in an adjustment to my support numbers?
Expert:  Robin D. replied 1 year ago.

If they are using your W2 then it is important to know if they use the Income Taxable Wages or the Total wages.

The 401k will just reduce your Income Tax wages not your Gross pay. Gross pay represents the total amount paid by a company to its employees. Gross pay does not take into account any pretax deductions or other exemptions from income.

CT law for calculation would determine that. The calculation of the original decree would state what income is used.

Expert:  Robin D. replied 1 year ago.

I will check on CT specific calculations.

Expert:  Robin D. replied 1 year ago.

It appears that in CT the income available to a spouse has to do with net income, not gross income or earnings.

But optional deductions, such as profit sharing plans, IRAs, stock purchases and credit union deposits are not proper reductions from earnings for determination of financial orders.

Connecticut’s alimony statute [C.G.S. § 46b-82]

Based on this your 401k increase does not seem to be an area that would assist you for this specific situation.