I am married, filing jointly. I am about to re-file my W-4 because I have been overwithholding.

I'm working on Field 1 of the "Deductions and Adjustments Worksheet". A big part of this field is estimated state and local income taxes. Should this be the estimate of just my state/local taxes, or both mine and my spouse's?


2 Answers 2


Keep in mind, the W4 will get you to an accuracy of one exemption, i.e. the tax you'll pay or not pay, on $3800. So, for a 25% marginal rate taxpayer, you can get as close as $950, but would need to tinker a bit to get closer.

You say you had too much withheld. I suggest you take to amount of your refund, divide by 1000 and just bump your exemptions by that much. (If you are in the 15% bracket, the exemption will reduce withholding by about $570, so divide that refund by $600 and up your exemptions by that much.)

As simple at it tries to be, the W4 is more complicated than necessary. For those who need a simple tweak, this method works fine.

  • 1
    When both spouses are working and extra taxes need to be withheld, one common method to increase withholding is for one or both to request withholding at the single rate even though they are married. Here, the withholding needs to be reduced, and one additional way would be to change from single withholding (if that is what the current W-4 says) to married withholding on the new W-4. Commented Apr 30, 2012 at 2:08
  • @DilipSarwate - how do you calculate the withholding difference between 'filing as single' vs 'married' for this W4 change? Commented Apr 30, 2012 at 14:11
  • 4
    The methods that are to be used by employers in calculating the amount required to be withheld as Federal income tax are laid out in excruciating detail in a document called Circular E (or Publication 15) that can be downloaded from the IRS web site (PDF). If you ask how I do it, I file a W-4, see what is deducted on my next paycheck, and then file another W-4 to get to the correct amount I want withheld for the rest of the year. Commented Apr 30, 2012 at 18:44

This is basically the adjustments and schedule A deductions. So in this case the taxes would be the taxes you write down on your schedule A. If you're filing jointly then it should be for both of you.

Note that you need to take into the account multiple jobs/earners situation, there's an additional worksheet for that.

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