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I’ve been stuck in my taxes for the past 3 years because I don’t know how to adequately fix my situation. My first job pays $60k a year. My second paid me $22k this year but it was contract. I never know if I’m going to have it from one semester to the next. I teach at a college and sometimes I have 0 classes, sometimes I have 2 and that would be a $1,100 paycheck difference.

As an example:

  • Spring semester I made $1,350 pre tax
  • Summer semester I made $1,080 pre tax
  • Fall semester I made $633 pre tax

What would you do here? Initially I took out an extra $30 a paycheck from my 1st job but that didn’t help much. Bumped it up to $50 a paycheck and still didn’t help much. Actually, it doubled from the year before in how much I owed.

With a second job like this, where I never know how much I’m going to make or not make, what do I do? I can’t really afford to have all of those taxes taken out of my 1st job if I’m not actually working the 2nd one.

Also, not sure how much it matters but we did buy a house this year back in March. I don’t know how much that’ll help me, if at all. The interest is still about $3-4k away from the standard deduction so…

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    Tax questions require us knowing the country. Please add the appropriate country label o your question. Jan 19 at 12:59
  • If US, see the answer to money.stackexchange.com/questions/133061/…
    – keshlam
    Jan 19 at 13:09
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    I'm tagging this question "united-states." I believe that the US is the only country that has a home mortgage interest deduction and a "standard deduction" and uses the $ symbol for money. Please let me know if I am wrong. :)
    – Ben Miller
    Feb 19 at 22:07

1 Answer 1

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The question neglects to provide the jurisdiction in which income tax is to be assessed. That's unfortunate, as income tax obligations vary widely from one country to another. Until that information is supplied, any answers can only provide generic options.

Nevertheless, here's some strategies:

  1. You can request that additional taxation instalments are deducted from the pay of your primary job and sent to your Taxation Office as prepayments on the tax liability expected to arise on the likely income from your 2nd job. You've already said that that's not a good option if you don't actually earn much from the 2nd job, so...
  2. You can ensure that when you earn income from your 2nd job, it is taxed at an appropriate rate. Typically, the first $X earned in a year by a taxpayer are not taxed, then progressively higher rates of tax apply to further earnings. In your case, every dollar earned from your second job will add to the $60k of earnings from your first job. Ideally, all earnings from your second job should be taxed at the $60K+ tax rate, not a lower percentage. At the very minimum, make the appropriate declarations to your 2nd employer to ensure that they don't mistakenly apply the tax-free or low-tax thresholds to any of your earnings from them.
  3. If strategies 1 and 2 are not available or won't result in sufficient tax being deducted to cover your eventual taxation liabilities, you can tax yourself. Every time you receive any money from your second employer, immediately deduct some of that money and stash it away in a savings account. Importantly, don't spend that money - you need to preserve it until you submit your tax return and get your tax assessment from the Tax Office. The amount of money that you salt away each payday (25%? 30%?) should align with the rate of taxation that you expect to pay as a marginal rate on your $60k+ total earnings in the year.

Your jurisdiction probably has legal requirements to pay certain amounts of taxation instalments progressively throughout the year as you earn taxable income. Strategies 1 and 2 will allow you to satisfy those legal obligations; strategy 3 may not.

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    In the US, option 3 may require submitting quarterly Estimated Tax payments to avoid penalties.
    – keshlam
    Feb 19 at 14:07

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