Handling Your W-4 and Tax Brackets When You Get a Raise

Congratulations, you just got a raise! You’ve worked hard to build your company and your boss noticed enough to reward you for the effort. Now you can sit back and relax, right? Not quite, you may want to look at how your increased income affects your taxes in present filing year.

Here’s some information to get you started and help you make the right choices for your situation.

What’s a W-4?

Whenever you start a new job, one of the forms you get from the Human Resources Department is your W-4, also known as Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. This form is filled out by you based on your current circumstances and it helps employers know how much to withhold every paycheck for your taxes.

The goal is make sure you’re not paying too much or too little of your hard earned money to the government.

Do You Need to Change Your W-4?

As a rule of thumb, you should review and/or update your W-4 whenever your tax obligations. Possible changes include:

  • marriage
  • a change in the amount of itemized deductions
  • a change in the number of dependents

It is easy to update your form and it should take a total of 10 minutes or so. You can do it by hand or you can use the withholding calculator the IRS provides on their site. You can also check out Topic 753 to see what other circumstances can affect your W-4.

Different Tax Brackets

Right now that are several tax brackets that the United States uses based on income and filing status. They are currently:

Marginal Tax Rate Single Head of Household Married, Filing Jointly or Qualified Widow(er) Married, Filing Separately
10% $0 – $8,375 $0 – $11,950 $0 – $16,750 $0 – $8,375
15% $8,376 – $34,000 $11,951 – $45,550 $16,751 – $68,000 $8,376 – $34,000
25% $34,001 – $82,400 $45,551 – $117,650 $68,001 – $137,300 $34,001 – $68,650
28% $82,401 – $171,850 $117,651 – $190,550 $137,301 – $209,250 $68,651 – $104,625
33% $171,851 – $373,650 $190,551 – $373,650 $209,251 – $373,650 $104,626 – $186,825
35% $373,651 and more $373,651 and more $373,651 and more $186,826 and more

Source: IRS CFR 601.602

If you’re curious about your personal tax obligation, check out the IRS’ tax table to give you an idea. If you have any questions, speak with your Human Resource representative for specific instruction.

Thoughts on Raises and W-4s

How many of you received raises in the last year? How do you plan on using or spending it? When was the last time you’ve reviewed and or adjusted your W-4s?

Elle Martinez

Elle helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second.

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