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FAQ

I want to invest my IRS withholdings. How do I fill out a W-4 so my employer does not do federal withholding?
Legally you can’t. Those withholdings are not yours. They are payments towards your tax liability, made at the time that you earn the income. Pay as you go. It makes sense.So what you want to do is borrow money that isn’t really yours, interest free, invest it for a few months, and then pay it back the next year. Is that correct? While it’s not really permitted you can manage to get away with it. You can’t easily get away with stopping all withholding. That requires stating that you expect to pay zero taxes for the year, which you know is false. It looks suspicious and is easy for the feds to check. Instead, what you can do is reduce your withholding by claiming a large number of exemptions. That’s not nearly as suspicious. When you complete your return you’ll owe a lot of tax, which is clearly against the rules, but you’ll probably get away with it at least for a year or two and maybe longer depending on how lax the IRS is in enforcing the law on scamsters like yourself.I used to claim a large number of exemptions. It was legitimate since I actually had a lot of deductions at that time. But a couple of years I accidentally withheld too little money, more than a couple of thousand dollars. I paid the tax with my return and adjusted my withholding going forward and the IRS didn’t penalize me or question it afterwards. But if you’re talking about under withholding by a lot more than that and year after year then good luck. You might get caught, forced to pay a penalty and interest, and be flagged for special attention in the future.
If a company never made me fill out a W-2 or 1099, can they get in legal trouble?
For sure, there are many ways for a company to get in trouble regarding payments to contractors and employees. Failure to fill out a W-x isn't the problem but a missing 1099 is worth about $100 penalties plus some interest, rarely enforced. Why do you ask?Deliberately misclassifying employees and contractors is a criminal matter in Califoarnia right now, not sure about the rest of the world. Have you been reading about the Indian diplomat who got arrested and strip searched for not paying minimum wage? This harsh stuff gets attention. All this really depends on what your beef is. Did the miss a promised payment?
Is it illegal for my boss to fill out the tax papers to tell them how much to take out?
It would be illegal for an employer to fill out a W-4 form for you.However, if you have not signed a W-4 form and given it to your employer, the employer is still required to withhold taxes. If I remember correctly they must do as if you'd filled out the form as single with 0 exemptions.If you want to change what your employer is withholding, you should be able to go to Internal Revenue Service, print out a W-4 form, fill it out and give it to your employer.If after that your withholding doesn't change in a reasonable time (I think they're allowed a couple of weeks), then talk to the IRS.
Is it illegal to not file a new W-4 with your employer when you move?
No, but I would say it is not very bright since the only person potentially impacted by this will be you as your W-2 will have incorrect address and if it is mailed to you will go to incorrect address or may be lost in the mail so then you will have to chase it down later to file income tax returns and any delays may cot you penalties and interest. Additionally, if your new address in a different state, your taxes will likely continue to be paid to the old state and none will be paid to the state where you now live and will owe. There are also local taxes in some counties that work the same way. You can get refund for overpaying but will likely end up paying two states and will have to wait till year end when you file tax returns in both states to get refund on the duplicate taxes. You can get refund sooner but have to chase it down and in the new state where you have not paid will likely owe penalties and interest on unpaid taxes. Keep in mind that your employer also pays SUI which is state unemployment based on state that you work in so if that has changed, could have same situation with over or /under payment to wrong states. Since this is an employer-paid tax, they will have to chase that one down and won’t aapreciate the extra work and cost you created for them. Plus if you go to collect unemployment, you may have issues there.Just to clarify my assumptions here: Although you are asking about the Federal W-4 form where (state) address does not matter, generally you will also submit a similar form for state taxes, but if you don’t, most employers use the info on W-4 for your address to determine your state tax jurisdiction and withholdings.So why is it that you think you don’t want to provide current accurate address on W-4 to employer?
Why are there no federal income taxes withheld on my paycheck?
This sort of rang some alarm bells. You don’t say how much you are being paid, so one can’t conclude whether or not you should have had federal taxes withheld.The amount of taxes withheld depends upon a couple of things. At bare minimum, you should have social security ( 6.2%) and medicare (1.45%) withheld. If those amounts are not withheld, then your employer may be treating you as an independent contractor, which is most probably wrong. ( employers sometimes do this so they can save employment taxes, workers comp, and unemployment taxes. It’s illegal and improper, but you see it ever so often)If you ask your employer why there is no social security and medicare tax (often called FICA) withheld, they may give you a wide variety of answers. AS I mentioned, most of this is a con job so they can save taxes. You should get a form SS-8 (at IRS.gov) and fill it in to see whether you really are an independent contractor or not. Google “independent contractor vs employee” for some useful reading on the topic.Let’s assume the FICA is withheld, but no income taxes. The amount withheld depends upon how much you make, and how you filled in your W-4 form. So, if you were paid $10 an hour, and you filled in your W-4 claiming married with 14 exemptions, likely there would be no income tax withheld. (Hint: the higher the exemptions, the lower the withholding…) You should always claim only what you are entitled to. If single with no dependents, claim Single 1. If married and your spouse is working too, claim married, either 1 or zero. Claiming the right number of exemptions is tricky given so many different situations, and is beyond the scope of this answer.If you don’t remember what you did on your W-4, ask to see it. They have to show you. Also, look on your paycheck stub. If you didn’t receive one, your employer is violating the law: you are entitled to a paycheck stub showing how they calculated the gross wages earned to the net on the paycheck. You should study these and keep them, and reconcile them to your W-2 at the end of the year. I say this because unscrupulous employers have been known to fudge the numbers to get them a bigger expense deduction at your expense!
How should I fill out my w-2 or w-4 form?
To calculate how much you should withhold you need to calculate two things.  Step 1 - Estimate your TaxFirst go to Intuit's TaxCaster (Link - TurboTax® TaxCaster, Free Tax Calculator, Free Tax Refund Estimator) and put in your family's information and income (estimate what you'll make in 2016 before taxes and put zero for federal and state taxes withheld, don't worry that the TaxCaster is for 2015, you're just trying to get a general number).  Once you enter in your correct information it will tell you what you would owe to the federal government.Step 2 - Estimate your Tax Withholding Based on Allowances ClaimedSecond go to Paycheck City (Link - Salary Paycheck Calculator | Payroll Calculator | Paycheck City) select the correct state, enter in your pay information.  Select married filing jointly then try putting in 3 or 4 for withholdings.  Once you calculate it will tell you how much taxes are being withheld.  Set the pay frequency to annual instead of bi-monthly or bi-weekly since you need a total number for the year.  Try changing the Federal withholding allowance until you have enough Federal taxes withheld to cover the amount calculated in the TaxCaster.  The Federal withholding allowance number that covers all taxes owed should be the number claimed on your W-4.Don't worry too much about your state.  If you claim the same as Federal what will usually happen is you might get a small refund for Federal and owe a small amount for State.  I usually end up getting a Federal refund for ~$100 and owing state for just over $100.  In the end I net owing state $20-40.Remember, the more details you can put into the TaxCaster and Paycheck City the more accurate your tax estimate will be. 
How can my employer charge me taxes when I didn't fill out any form (like W2, W4, or W9)?
**UPDATE** After my answer was viewed over 4,100 times without a single upvote, I revisited it to see where I might have gone wrong with it. Honestly, it seems like a reasonable answer: I explained what each of the forms asked about is for and even suggested getting further information from a licensed tax preparer. BUT, I’m thinking I missed the underlying concern of the querent with my answer. Now I’m reading that they don’t care so much about the forms as they do about the right or, more accurately, the obligation of their employer to withhold taxes at all.So let me revise my answer a bit…Your employer doesn’t charge you taxes - the government does. The government forces employers to withhold (or charge, as you put it) taxes from the earnings of their employees by threatening fines and even jail time for failing to do so (or for reclassifying them as independent contractors in order to avoid the withholding and matching requirements). Whether you fill out any forms or not, employers will withhold taxes because they don’t want to be fined or go to jail.Now the meta-question in the question is how can the government tax its citizen’s income? Well, that’s a big debate in America. Tax is the only way governments make money and they use that money to provide services for their constituency. Without funding, no federal or state or county program, or employee, would exist. But still, some people believe taxation is illegal, unjustified, and flat out wrong. They believe that free market forces should fund the military, the Coast Guard, Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Border Patrol, the FBI, CIA, DEA, FDA, USDA, USPS, the Federal Prison Complex, the National Park Service, the Interstate Highway System, air traffic control, and the Judiciary (just to name a few things). They even believe paying politicians for the work they do, like the President and Congress, is wrong.Others (luckily, most of us) appreciate paying taxes, even if they seem a bit steep at times. We’re happy to benefit from all the things our tax dollars buy us and we feel what we pay gives us back returns far greater than our investment. If you’re on the fence about this issue, consider how expensive health care is and how much you’re getting out of paying for it privately (out of your own paycheck). Same with your education or that of your children. Do you pay for private schools? Private colleges? Do you pay for private child care too? All expensive, right?Well what if we had to pay for private fire fighting? Or all mail had to be shipped via FedEx or UPS? Or if the cost of a plane ticket to anywhere doubled because we had to pay out-of-pocket for air traffic control? What about the military, border control and veterans? How much are you willing to pay out of every paycheck DIRECTLY to the department of defense AND veterans affairs? If we privatized the military, would we still be able to afford $30 billion dollar fighter jets? Who would pay to defend us?I bet people living paycheck to paycheck would be hard pressed to find extra money to pay for the military, when they’re already spending so much for teachers, schools, health care, local emergency response, food safety inspections, social workers, the criminal justice system, road repairs and construction, bridge inspection and maintenance, and natural disaster remediation (just to name a few things).Think about if all the national and local parks were privatized. Visiting one would cost as much or more than it does to go to Disneyland. Think about how much more food would cost if farmers weren’t subsidized and food wasn’t inspected for safety. Imagine how devastating a pandemic would be without the Center for Disease Control to monitor and mitigate illness outbreaks.We all take for granted the myriad of benefits we get from paying taxes. We may like to gripe and moan but taxes aren’t just for the public good, they’re for our own. (That rhymes!)**END OF UPDATE**W-9 forms are what you fill out to verify your identification, or citizenship status, for your employers. They have nothing to do with payroll taxes other than being the primary tool to from which to glean the correct spelling of your name and your Social Security number.W-2 forms are issued by employers to employees for whom they paid the required payroll taxes to the government on their behalf. The W-2 also details the amount of a person’s pay was sent to the government to fund their Social Security and Medicare accounts. W-2 forms are necessary for people when filing their personal income taxes so they can calculate if they under or overpaid.W-4 forms are filled out by employees to assure that the appropriate amount of pay is being withheld (and transferred on their behalf) by their employers to the government. If you don’t fill out a W-4 then your employer withholds the standard default amount for a single individual. You can update your W-4 at any time with your employer and you may want to when the size of your household changes.Even if you aren’t an employee (like you get paid without taxes being withheld for you) and are issued a 1099-MISC form instead of a W-2, you’re STILL responsible for paying your taxes as you earn that money - in no greater than quarterly installments. If you go over three months without paying taxes when you’re making money - whether your employer is withholding it and paying it on your behalf or you just made the money and no one took any taxes out for you - you’ll be fined and charged interest on your late tax payments.Talk with a licensed tax preparer and they can help you better understand what it all means. Good luck and happy tax season!
How is federal income tax withholding for each paycheck calculated?
In essence, what you described is what happens.  There are different payroll periods (daily (other), weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, annually) and each payroll period has a different amount associated with it.The next part that is used to determine is if you marked single or married and number of allowances on your W-4.The last part that is used to determine the withholding amount is the amount you are paid during the payroll period.The calculations for the amount being withheld can be convoluted and difficult to understand because of the way the Circular E is written.Over          But not over                                                    of excess over$87            $436                      $0.00 plus 10%                $87 $436          $1,506                   $34.90 plus 15%               $436 $1,506     $3,523                  $195.40 plus 25%         $1,506 $3,523       $7,254                   $699.65 plus 28%             $3,523 $7,254       $15,667                 $1,744.33 plus 33%          $7,254$15,667     $15,731                  $4,520.62 plus 35%         $15,667$15,731                                    $4,543.02 plus 39.6%      $15,731This is the chart from the current Circular E for a single person that gets paid bi-weekly and I'll do my best to explain how your taxes are calculated.Step 1: Subtract the number of allowances (according to pay schedule of bi-weekly) claimed on your.  For this instance, let's say you claimed only yourself so that would be 1.  The amount associated is $151.90.Step 2: Your bi-weekly earnings are $2,000 so subtract $151.90 which leaves $1,848.10Step 3: Locate where $1,848.10 falls within the chart (see bold).This is where it gets confusing because you're going to use the information on the line where your wages fall and read from right to left (see below) when doing the calculationsStep 4: Using the result from step 2 ($1,848.10) and subtract the amount in the "of excess over" column ($1,506) and this leaves you $342.10Step 5: Multiply the result from step 4 ($342.10) by the percentage (in bold) from above (25%) and the result is $85.525 (rounded up to $85.53)Step 6: Add the amount on the same line in bold ($195.40) to the result from step 5 ($85.53) and this is the amount ($280.93) to be withheldSome payroll software will withhold dollars and cents whereas others will withhold only whole dollar amounts.  If the software being used to calculate your withholding rounds, the amount withheld will be $281.There is also a chart in the Circular E that makes the calculations easier and that can be found at Page on irs.gov.You asked if you're going to have too much withheld?  Technically the answer is yes because you will receive a refund (based on the potential of $52,000 annually).  You can change the number of allowances on your W-4 since you know that you'll only be making $26,000 this year (technically) and may only want to have enough taxes withheld to cover the amount you earn.
How do you set up the taxes withholding when you start a new job in the US?
I don’t know about GA, but at the federal level, your employer will give you a Form W-4 to fill out. It’s probably something similar at the state level.The W-4 is very straight-forward, Q&A-style. The only really common mistake on a W-4 is made by married people who both work (they fail to share their withholding allowances, both claiming all of them, which is improper).It’s also super-easy to file a new one and update your information if you realize you made a mistake or whatever.In short, it’s nothing to worry about.