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How to fill out a W-4 when getting divorced in California

On Behalf of | Jul 22, 2022 | Divorce

There are a lot of questions that California couples have after going through a divorce. One of the most intimidating hurdles for people to navigate post-divorce is taxes.

What changes do I need to make to my W4?

You are required to change your W4 with your employer within 10 days of the divorce or separation being finalized. You can technically make these changes before the divorce or separation is finalized, but most people wait until the divorce is finalized to avoid having to make multiple changes as they go through the process.

Generally, you’ll change your filing status from “married” to “single.” If you’re changing this before your divorce is finalized, you’ll still want to check this box.

Figuring out allowances

The hardest part of W4s for many people is figuring out allowances. The allowances are the exemptions that reduce how much income tax an employer deducts from an employee’s paycheck.

Most people write down “one” or “zero” for their allowances. Zero allows the maximum amount to be taken out of your paycheck for income taxes, allowing you to potentially get a refund at the end of the year.

There is a table that helps you calculate allowances depending on if you have children or not. Additionally, you might want to add additional withholding to your W4 based on your financial situation.

Other information to check

Things like your name or address are also likely to change during the divorce process. In addition to changing this information on your W4, you’ll want to file any other required forms with the IRS or other government agencies.

For example, if your name is changing, you’ll want to file Form SS-5 with the Social Security Administration. All of the changes can be confusing, but handling these changes before tax season will save you time and frustration later on.