Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Adjust Withholding On W-4 To Keep Tax Credit On Track

From USAToday.com:

Your next paycheck will probably be a little fatter than usual, but it's not because your boss thinks you're swell. Instead, the increase reflects the Making Work Pay credit, part of the economic stimulus package enacted this year.

Most taxpayers will receive a credit of about $400, or $800 for married couples. Unlike last year, you won't receive a check in the mail. Instead, the credit will be spread out over the year. Most taxpayers will receive an extra $10 a week.

That's not exactly a windfall, but a little something extra in your paycheck sure can't hurt, right? Well, actually, it could. Some taxpayers could end up with a smaller-than-average tax refund next year or — horrors — discover they owe the IRS money. You can avoid problems down the road by adjusting the withholding allowances on your W-4. Consider reviewing the number of allowances you claim if:

•You're a dual-income couple. The IRS withholding tables are designed to provide a maximum tax credit of about $400 for single taxpayers, and about $600 if you are married and file jointly, says Bob Trinz, senior tax analyst for Thomson Reuters. That could cause some working couples to receive a larger combined credit than allowed by law.

For example, suppose you earn $75,000 a year, as does your spouse. Both of you claim two withholding allowances. You'll each get a $614 credit, for a combined credit of $1,228, according to Thomson Reuters. However, the maximum credit a married couple is eligible to claim is $800. Unless one or both of you increase the amount of taxes withheld from your paychecks, you could end up owing the IRS money when you file your taxes next year, Trinz says.

Conversely, Trinz says, if only one spouse works, the couple could end up with a smaller credit than they're entitled to. Here's an example, from Thomson Reuters: A married man earns $100,000 a year and claims four withholding allowances. His wife is a homemaker. He'll receive a credit of $614, even though the couple are entitled to an $800 credit. This couple can claim the balance of the credit when they file their taxes, or they can get the money sooner by reducing their withholding.

•You have more than one job. If you're working two jobs, both of your employers will adjust your take-home pay to reflect the new credit. The combined credit from both jobs could exceed the maximum $400 credit for individual taxpayers, says Michael O'Toole, director of government relations for the American Payroll Association.

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