Nathaniel Ritchison
ABOUT Nathaniel

As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, Nate through proactive planning and management helps individuals and families gain confidence and control over their financial situation so they can work toward accomplishing their retirement goals. Since 2002 he has been responsible for leading clients through the wealth management process, which includes guiding clients from goal setting to [...]

Nate Ritchison, CFP® explains how your tax withholding on your W-4 affect how much you owe to or get refunded by the IRS. He highlights the importance of staying on top of your taxes throughout the year, especially if your situation changes (i.e. you get married, divorced, have kids, purchased a home, etc.).


“Most of us have experienced an emotional and financial roller coaster when filing our taxes. Did you know you don’t have to experience this anxiety? Hi, I’m Nate Ritchison, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ with Pure Financial Advisors, and this is Question of the Week. This week’s question is: How do my tax withholdings affect my tax return?

Most of us, as we grow earned income, are going to owe some income taxes on that income. If you’re self-employed, you have to pay quarterly taxes throughout the year. But for most of us, if we’re employees of a company, we had those taxes withheld from our paychecks every month. The amount you have withheld is completely up to you, and you determine the amount you have withheld by filling out that W-4 when you first start your job.

If you want more withheld, you claim more withholdings and allowances. If you want less withheld, you have less allowances claimed. This system works really well if you’re a standard tax filer. That is, you’re single, you have one job and you’d claim the standard tax deduction. For a lot of us, we don’t fit into that category. We need to regularly review our withholdings so we don’t have these surprises when it comes to filing our taxes. The surprise of if you owe money or have a big refund can be negative. The reason is because if you owe money, chances are if you owe a lot then you also have to pay your tax and a tax penalty on top of that. If you get a big refund, what you’ve done is you’ve just given an interest-free loan to the government over that period of time. Either way, you want to make sure you dial in your tax withholdings.

Now, when you consider your tax withholdings, also consider some changes that can affect your taxes throughout the year–things like if you’ve been married or got divorced, if you’ve had a child, a job change or maybe even purchased a home, those are all things you might want to consider to adjust your withholdings up or down. Other things like doing some financial planning can also affect how much tax you’re going to pay and maybe how much you want to have withheld from each paycheck. Things like if you have dividend income or interest income, if you have capital gains, if you have an IRA distribution you take or maybe you do some Roth conversions, these are things you want to consider because they will affect your taxes when you file your tax return.

Either way, you want to make sure you stay on top of this and you adjust your taxes throughout the year, either through your W-4 or making estimated payments so that your tax season is as boring as possible. This is Nate Ritchison with Pure Financial Advisors, and this was the Question of the Week”