I'm a foreign student that will be in the US for two internships. I just started one in the summer and will be doing another one in the fall. I have to fill in my W4 and I'm still somewhat lost. I have heard multiple times that if I'm single I should just use 1 as number of the allowances, but I also had people sending me the IRS calculator: http://apps.irs.gov/app/withholdingcalculator/

When I use the calculator, it suggests me to fill in 12 allowances for the first internship and 0 for the second one. Does this even make sense?

The first internship will pay me $21,500 plus $10,000 bonus and the second one $20,400 plus $2000 bonus.

  • @littleadv, the calculator told me this: "Job 1 (which has a projected salary of $21,500): 12 allowances. Job 2 (which has a projected salary of $20,400): 0 allowances."
    – user15159
    May 25 '14 at 6:21

When the W-4 asks about multiple jobs it is asking about simultaneous jobs.

Assume you make $1,000 every two weeks at job A. The default withholding will assume you will make $26,000 a year. If you have two jobs at the same time each paying $1,000 every two weeks, and you don't address the simultaneous jobs; each withholding will be sized for $26K of income, not $52K of income. Due to the nature of taxes (rates go up as income goes up) too little with be withheld.

If you have a job, then you quit and you get a replacement job; the default withholding will be sized as if you make $1,000 every two weeks for the whole year. Which is a good estimate.

Each check will be withheld based on making that amount for the entire year. In the higher paying job too much will be withheld because it assumes a much higher total annual income; the lower paying job is harder to guesstimate because it assumes a lower total compensation for the year, but it also is for only a limited number of weeks.

Due to the fact that you are a foreign student your situation is even more complex. I would ask for assistance from the university to better understand the rules as they apply to you.

  • Hi, many thanks for the reply! I do not have any relations with any university here (sorry for the confusion with foreign student, I just meant I study abroad), should I talk with a tax attorney or would that be too expensive?
    – user15159
    May 31 '14 at 20:53

I used the IRS calculator and got results different from yours. Be sure to mark that you itemize your deductions and not using the standard deduction, since you're an international student.

The reason it suggests different withholding for different jobs is because the withholding calculation assumes you start from 0. Since for the second job you don't start from 0, allowances should be adjusted to put it into the right bracket. Essentially, you'll pay through withholding during the second job the tax on both the incomes.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.