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I joined a new company recently and made a mistake while filling out Form W-4 electronically. I chose 'Married Filing Jointly' from the 'Marital Status' dropdown when I should have selected 'Single/Married Filing Separate'. This mistake affected the withholding for the first pay period. After realizing the mistake, I immediately corrected it. It should not affect future pay. However, I'm not sure if I need to take additional steps, especially with respect to the IRS, to deal with my mistake.

I reported this issue to my company's HR/Payroll services, but it was forwarded to offshore personnel and did not receive a definite answer. I was told to update a field for additional paycheck withholding (the field description is "Additional amount, if any, you want withheld from each paycheck"). I was not told what value to enter into this field however.

I would appreciate any advice. Thank you.

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You're over thinking.

One wrong paycheck withholding isn't going any problems. Redo your W-4 to what it should have been in the first place, and go on with your life. If you're only a wage earner, then your refund will be a little bit smaller than it would have been. The IRS absolutely does not care.

Even if you'd left your status Married Filing Jointly the whole year, the IRS would not care. Of course, you'd owe the IRS a lot, but the IRS would not care.

Now... if you'd left your status Married Filing Jointly for two years, the IRS would care, and you'd have to pay an underpayment penalty.

But, that's not the case here.

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    "Of course, you'd owe the IRS a lot, but the IRS would not care." If you owe too much, not only would you owe the taxes this year, you would owe an underpayment penalty, which you would pay with your taxes this year. But yes, otherwise, the IRS would not care. – user102008 Feb 17 '20 at 3:20
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    @user102008 you get a pass on underpayment one year in a row, but not two years. – RonJohn Feb 17 '20 at 4:12
  • @RonJohn Why do you say it is always okay to underpay for just one year? I assume you're referring to the "safe harbor" on withholding and estimated payments. If OP's tax liability last year was small enough, then the withholding this year will be sufficient to avoid a penalty (based on meeting 100% or 110% of previous year). Otherwise, however, it is not clear that underpayment is okay. OP says "I joined a new company recently", but not that income was low before that. Were you thinking this is OP's first job? – nanoman Feb 17 '20 at 6:08
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    @nanoman yes, I was referring to the safe harbor. – RonJohn Feb 17 '20 at 13:33
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    @RonJohn You wrote, "Even if you'd left your status Married Filing Jointly the whole year, the IRS would not care." But if OP had a similar income last year before the "new company", then substantial underwithholding could fail to meet either 100% of last year's liability or 90% of this year's. I don't understand the blanket assertion that "you get a pass on underpayment one year in a row". Yes, this can be true if it is your first year at a new, significantly higher income level, but not otherwise. – nanoman Feb 17 '20 at 17:51

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