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what should i change my federal withholding to if i’m divorced with two kids?

Question by elfkin the destroyer : what should i change my federal withholding to if i’m divorced with two kids? should i claim allowances or not? any “withholding taxes for dummies” advice greatly appreciated. thanks! Best answer:

Answer by Chantal
I never want to owe, so I put zero on my W2 (the form turned in to your employer for paycheck deductions).
However, you could have one allowance for yourself and 2 for your children (as long as the divorce decree/custody agreement specifies that you are allowed to claim both children), which makes a total of 3.

What do you think? Answer below!

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4 Responses to “what should i change my federal withholding to if i’m divorced with two kids?”

  1. bumblebee says:


    3 dependents, as that is what you will declare on your income tax.

  2. Micki says:


    Claim yourself and one child. Does your X get to claim a tax exemption? You don’t want too much taken out of your paychecks all year – just for a big refund. Remember that refunds are interest free loans that you have given the IRS all year.

  3. vilkri says:


    I am a divorced parent of 2. My ex claims one child on the tax return and so do I. We do this according to the divorce settlement.

    Whether you should claim an allowance also depends whether you receive alimony payments which are usually paid with pre-tax money. In other words, your ex could reduce his income by the annual amount of alimony he pays you and you would have to add it to your taxable income, which would add to your tax liability. It depends on how much if any alimony you are getting to make a better judgment about how many allowances you should claim.

  4. Chris L. says:


    Do your children live with you? Go to http://www.irs.gov or http://www.paycheckcity.com, they both have W-4 calculators. We need a bit more info to give you a specific number. If you have an average salary $ 50,000 or so, and custody of your children with no alimony, then generally you would take 1 allowance for yourself, another allowance for being head of household, then up to 3 for each child, for a total of 8. Look at how much ta you paid last year first, and watch your federal tax withheld each paycheck to see where you stand. you can change your W-4 each month if you like, there is no limit. Start with 5 allowances perhaps, 1 for you and 2 for each child if you do claim them both on your taxes (If your ex-husband does not). In my case, my husband only works, I am a stay at home mom, and we have 4 children and claim 10 allowances, we just upped it to 15 allowances since we already have overpaid by far what we paid in tax last year. Good luck! ** to add; They are called “allowances”, not dependents or exemptions for a reason, the number does not need to equal your family members. It is merely a percentage withheld, look at the http://www.irs.gov W-4 calcluator and reference guide to check for yourself. Since you most likely qualify for the $ 1000 per child tax credit, that will greatly reduce the tax you will pay and need less withheld, as long as you yourself can claim your children.

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