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I am getting married this year (2019). My wife will not be working or bringing in any wage.

Beginning in 2020, I plan to submit a new w-4 to specify a withholding amount, with the goal of having a very small refund (I don't want to give the IRS a big interest-free loan). I've been doing some number crunching. My taxable wages are $88,800 (gross is 94,000).

While single, I can claim a withholding of 2: 1 for myself, and 1 because I am single and hold only one job.

When I'm married, I can claim a withholding of 3: 1 for myself, 1 for being married filing jointly, and 1 for being married, holding only one job, and my spouse doesn't work.

I have tried a couple of online calculators, and each of them shows that for me, every increment in my withholding number reduces my withheld federal income tax by about $77 a month.

However, when I compare the tax rate on my taxable income after deducting the standard deduction of $12,000 for being single, or $24,000 for being married, I discover that my federal income tax will be approximately $5,218 less for the year, or $434 less a month.

Why are these calculators predicting that I'll have $77 less withheld a month, but running the numbers on the tax brackets for filing jointly shows a savings of $434 a month? Is it that the calculators are not taking into account the difference between single and married-filing-jointly? Or are my calculations way off?

Here are my calculations:

..............................Single......................................Married......................................

Income Taxed: .... 88,800 - 12,000 = 76,800 ...... 88,800 - 24,000 = 64,800

First Bracket: ......... 970 ..................................... 1,940

Second Bracket: . 3,573 ..................................... 5,448

Third Bracket: ..... 8,211 ............................................ 0

Total: ..................12,606 ..................................... 7,388

Difference = 12,606 - 7,388 = 5,218

Difference Per Month = 5,218 / 12 = $434

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    Filing status and the number of allowances are two separate fields in W-4. Is $77 the difference that one extra allowance makes for the same filing status? Because big change in withholdings comes changing the filing status, not from claiming more allowances. – void_ptr May 10 at 18:16
  • @void_ptr, that turned out to be exactly the answer that I misunderstood. If you could kindly post that as an answer, I'll happily accept and upvote it. – James Dunn Jun 11 at 15:03

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