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Couple bonding via withholding

By Kay Bell · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Posted: 3 pm ET

Since Kim Kardashian's marriage only lasted 72 days before she decided to call it quits, I doubt she and Kris Humphries ever got around to talking taxes.

But for the rest of us who have been married longer or plan to be, marriage means tax sharing, including payroll withholding responsibilities.

When both spouses work, it generally is worthwhile for the husband and wife to take some time to tweak the amount that comes out of their individual pay.

If you don't coordinate your taxes, specifically how much is taken out of each of your paychecks, then you could end up owing the Internal Revenue Service a lot at tax filing time. That's not good, because it could mean you owe an underpayment penalty (and interest!), too.

Start by filling out the W-4 worksheet.

Actually, you'll need to fill out two withholding worksheets.  The W-4 includes a separate calculation section if the combined income from you and your spouse exceeds $10,000.

These nine extra lines help finetune the withholding each of you needs to have taken from your pay.

Ready to call it quits and just pick a number out of the air? Don't.

The IRS provides an online withholding calculator at its website that will run the numbers for you.

The tax agency also offers couples this tip: Your withholding usually will be most accurate when the spouse making the most money claims all the allowances on his or her Form W-4 and the other partner claims zero allowances.

And if you're in a big hurry, a down-and-dirty option is to simply add one or two allowances to your current number if you were overwithheld and got a big refund. If, on the other hand, you owed the IRS, just subtract one or two allowances from your current number to increase your withholding.

While newlyweds will definitely want to work on their W-4 forms together, it's also a good tax and relationship move for long-time couples to periodically review their withholding situation.

Trust me, I've been married for a long time and doing taxes even longer. When what you owe the IRS is correct, it makes for added wedded bliss at tax time!

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