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Blew it on the 2006 W-4

February 2nd, 2007 at 09:27 am

2006 was the first time I decided to adjust our withholding so that we would have more money coming in each month and not get such a big refund at tax time. It's kind of complicated for us because I have to take into account dividends, capital gains distributions on the mutual funds, capital gains/losses of any stock sale, and an unpredictable AMT recapture credit. So I was very keen to do our taxes this year and see how I did.

Looks like I blew it. We're going to owe about $1380 on federal and $840 on state. We won't have to dip into the emergency fund, but it does almost wipe out the funds from an envelope I call "Basic Savings" -- I guess you could consider it our baby emergency fund rather than the emergency fund we'd dip into if DH got laid off. It also means that now we really really have to live within the budget I set up in Mvelopes -- I'd hoped to have a few more months to fine-tune it.

When working on the W-4 I correctly anticipated about $6k in dividends, but I'm not sure about the $13k in capital gains distributions. And I completely forgot about $15k in profit from where our broker advised us to sell one mutual fund and redistribute the money to some other funds. I can't remember why we did this, maybe it wasn't performing that well. I've decided I need to keep a notebook where I write down the reason for each purchase or sale. I have about $600k spread across 11 different mutual funds (within the same fund family) and I really couldn't tell you why. Luckily I was conservative on the AMT recapture, predicting $850 when we got back $2500, and we had a capital loss carryover of $10k, or we would've ended up owing a lot more!

I don't trust TurboTax's W-4 page -- it told me to take something like 12 deductions in 2006! I can't remember if we did that for any lenght of time, but at the end of the year DH's paystub shows that we were taking 6 deductions and still ended up owing money. TurboTax is telling me to take 12 deductions for 2007 as well...something's not right. There's a withholding calculator on the IRS website that I trust a lot more:
http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=96196,00.html
and it has us at 5 deductions.


6 Responses to “Blew it on the 2006 W-4”

  1. tinapbeana Says:

    *sigh* don't feel too bad, looks like DH and i are gonna wind up owing as well. company where DH works pays too much to state and not enough to federal 2 years running now, and he's claiming 0! argh!

  2. monkeymama Says:

    The IRS one is a little conservative overall. But sounds like a good one to go with.

    Investment gains are pretty hard to predict. I don't think you necessarily want to pay those out of your withholdings. If so your best bet is to overwithhold. But you can also pay estimates throughout the year for your investment income. Then you can increase your withholdings to what they should be in general, but pay in some estimates if it turns out to be a stellar investment year. Thing is crappy years you don't want to pay too much.

    It gets very complicated. Just so you know, the general rule of thumb is if you pay in 110% of your prior year tax liability, you will avoid any penalties if you underpay. This is what we do for our big clients. Many of them will owe $50k when all is said and done because they forgot to tell us they sold a bunch of stocks or something - so we do the 110% rule generally to avoid problems. You know, but these are people who don't sweat another $50k due on their taxes - LOL. But being in such an unpredictable state, just keep in mind, will help you to avoid further penalties when you underpay.

  3. zetta Says:

    Thanks for the tip, MonkeyMama!

  4. baselle Says:

    Was that mutual fund that you held - did you hold it for more than a 1 yr? Were you taxed at ordinary income or long term capital gains?

  5. zetta Says:

    The mutual fund was over a year, and so was taxed at long term rates. I think going forward that I should do what MonkeyMama suggested -- calculate withholding based on 110% of last years taxes, and pay anything additional quaterly based on our investment activity. I've been a kind of sit-and-ignore-it investor and need to get more proactive about these things.

  6. Homebody Says:

    I don't even attempt to do our taxes ane we never know what our dividends will be... This year $18,000. Unfortunately we had to pay for a new roof and a wedding (well that was not unfortunate). This year when I get a dividend check I am going to immediately save half for the tax implications! Our tax appt is at the end of February, hoping not to have to pay too much, but we have had to pay every year since I became self employed (I do pay my quarterlies), except last year due to huge medical bills for YD.

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