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FAQ

Will it be legal to claim 15-20 allowances on my W4 in order to lower tax refund? According to IRS checklist I should claim around 7. What other things can I do to lower tax refund? I am in Los Angeles.
As was already pointed out, you want to lower your withholding • not your refund (which will increase your refund, or reduce your tax due).Anyway . . . it’s not a good thing to do, for several reasons. 1. Employers are no longer automatically required to submit W-4’s with more than 10 allowances to the IRS, but (i) that could change at any time, and (ii) a particular employer can be directed to submit W-4’s, or certain W-4’s whenever the IRS wants.2. You will likely be under-withheld • by how much depends on your circumstances • and that could result in underwitholding penalties at tax time.3. The W-4 is a tax form that you are signing under penalty of perjury, saying that the information is correct (read the signature line). Part of that information is that you are entitled to X allowances per the worksheet (based on dependents, deductions, etc.). Nobody expects those number to be absolutely precise, but when you’re entitled to 7 allowances, and you claim 17, that’s hard to write off to an error in estimates.4. Finally, you say you are in Los Angeles. I don’t know what California does in terms of withholding allowances, but if • like many other states • it uses your Federal W-4, then you’re just compounding your problem.As far as it being “legal”, I can’t see you going to jail over it, but if someone wanted to make something of it, willfully providing false information on a W-4 is a crime, punishable by up to $1000 fine and 1 year in jail. (It’s a form of tax evasion, but it is its own violation.) Perjury is also a separate crime (remember the signature line), punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and 3 years in prison. So, to answer your specific question, no, it’s not “legal.”
What is the earned income tax credit?
The Earned Income Tax Credit, EITC, is a benefit for working people with low to moderate income. To qualify, you must meet certain requirements and file a tax return, even if you do not owe any tax or are not required to file. EITC reduces the amount of tax you owe and may give you a refund.To qualify for EITC you must have earned income from working for someone or from running or owning a business or farm and meet basic rules. You must either meet rules for workers without a qualifying child or have a child that meets all the qualifying child rules.Qualification for EITC depends on filing status, number of children and income. (2022 amounts shown here)Single, Head of Household or Widowed# of Children-Income Limit0-$14,5901-$38,5112-$43,7563 or more $46,997Married Filing Jointly# of Children-Income Limit0-$20,0201-$43,9412-$49,1863 or more-$52,247Income limits apply to both earned income and adjusted gross income.Investment income must be no more than $3,350 for the year.The maximum amount of credit for Tax Year 2022 is:$6,143 with three or more qualifying children$5,460 with two qualifying children$3,305 with one qualifying child$496 with no qualifying childrenQualifying Child RulesYour child must have a Social Security Number that is valid for employment and must pass all of the following tests to be your qualifying child for EITC: RelationshipYour son, daughter, adopted child, stepchild, foster child or a descendent of any of them such as your grandchildBrother, sister, half brother, half sister, step brother, step sister or a descendant of any of them such as a niece or nephewAgeAt the end of the filing year, your child was younger than you (or your spouse if you file a joint return) and younger than 19At the end of the filing year, your child was younger than you (or your spouse if you file a joint return) younger than 24 and a full-time studentAt the end of the filing year, your child was any age and permanently and totally disabledResidencyChild must live with you (or your spouse if you file a joint return) in the United States for more than half of the yearJoint ReturnThe child cannot file a joint return for the tax year unless the child and the child's spouse did not have a separate filing requirement and filed the joint return only to claim a refund.
What’s the maximum number that you can claim on your W4 to break even and not owe any taxes next year?
Let’s be clear here:A W-4 form is NOT A TAX BILL. It has NOTHING to do with how much taxes you owe.All the W-4 does is insure that sufficient money is withheld from your paycheck to cover the tax debt you will owe that year. Whatever you put on the W-4 will have no affect whatsoever on the actual tax liability you have.How your tax liability (i.e. the total amount of money you much pay in income tax to the IRS) is dependent on a whole host of other things.What the W-4 provides is nothing more than a “guess” as to what this tax liability will be, so that the proper amount of money is regularly withheld to cover this liability. If you don’t properly withhold during the year (i.e. make regular proper-sized payments), you can assessed a fine by the IRS.How you compute the number of exemptions for the W-4 is completely dependent on your own tax situation, and cannot in any way be generalized to provide a generic answer. All you are doing with the W-4 is trying to estimate so that the amount that you’ve had withheld during the year closely matches your tax liability come April 15th.
Is it discriminatory to propose a no tax at all or a gross tax on women healthcare products in America?
This is an international site so a little overview may be helpful.There are a lot of schemes for taxation, and a lot of ways of considering what is fair.The value added tax, or VAT, does not exist in the US.  It is only at the final sale to a consumer that a tax rate is applied, as a percentage of the sale, itself.Tax proceeds from the sales tax go toward the costs of running government for the states, and sometimes, specific major urban area, that have passed laws setting the tax rate or rates.Arguments for the sales tax versus a value added tax include that the true impact (taxpayer cost) of state and city taxes are in the face of the voter any time a purchase is made.  The mechanical, pre-calculated VAT kind of hides those details: Are prices just rising, or is government extracting more from the common citizen.Especially, as this is levied at the state level, the sales tax puts government under competition with its neighbors.  New Jersey has a lower sales tax than New York State, and New York City residents buying near home have additional tax due at sale.Saturday traffic is huge, at the major highways into New Jersey.  Saturdays, a popular consumer shopping day, large numbers of New Yorkers travel to New Jersey to shop, and save on sales tax.  These state boundaries, across the nation limit both states' government's ability to unilaterally raise the tax rate and thus limit available revenue to cover overspending by the elected representatives and governors of the states.Some people also like the sales tax because it seems flat-ish.  A flat tax is appreciated by some since it is both a simple rate calculation without loopholes, and it is a function of activity that everybody does.  This is important to most people.  We all must have skin in the game, some consequence of the government we support, drawn from our pockets.The challenge with the sales tax is that it is a function of retail store sales, which is only a portion of the total economy.  If the state exists to support and protect the economic activity of its citizens, then many believe a fair tax system should tie tax paid to economic activity undertaken.  The wealthy are the ones with economic activity not transacted as an in-store purchase.  The wealthier they are, the more of their activity escapes the sales tax.Since a greater portion of total income of the lower-income individual is immediately directed at store-based retail purchases, the total sales tax paid, over time is a far higher share of their total earnings (or worth, if on fixed income/savings).Tax systems skewed to levy heavier burdens on the least wealthy are categorically described as "regressive".  This contrasts with taxes skewed heavier based on ability to pay, which would be "progressive".To mitigate, to lessen the regressive taxation effect of a product-blind consumer sales tax, state governments decide to exempt certain purchase categories from the sales tax.Normal groceries and produce, i.e., food, both prepared and eaten at home, is one of the product categories often exempt from sales tax.The problem is that fuzzy boundaries come up.  New York taxes carbonated beverages and non-food grocery items like paper towels and soap.The tide of Saturday shoppers from New York into New Jersey is not for the 1% sales tax difference on sales tax items, but because New Jersey exempts clothing, and New York does not.Suddenly, several blouses and a pair of slacks are $20 or $30 cheaper, total cost, than if bought in New York.Now, on the one hand, toilet paper, which is taxed in New Jersey, is taxed at a higher rate because clothes, even designer clothes, are not subject to sales tax, and the state does need what it needs for basic services.  The regressive toilet paper sales tax (the rich don't really use any more TP than the poor), is higher than it could be because New Jersey exempts high-fashion clothes from sales tax.Exempting feminine hygiene products from the sales tax seems to correct not so much a regressive tax, i.e., one with harder proportional impact on the poor, but rather tries to mitigate what appears to be a targeted tax only affecting females of a several-decade age bracket.The consumers affected, women between puberty and menopause arguably range over the entire income and wealth spectrum, so relief for the poorest will translate to exemption for some of those most able to pay.Probe the data further and we find that women in this age bracket are over-represented among the poorest in the state: the single mother scenario.  This supports the side that argues the sales tax on feminine products is regressive.Setting it out this way, it seems a sales tax would be appropriate, combined with a gender-based, age-bracketed tax credit phased out by level of total adjusted income, available only those years one does not give birth.  Yes: a plan for tax fairness: a tax credit, maybe $20 or so yearly, to cover the sales tax on feminine hygiene products, available to households with girls above 10 through women under, say, 55, if poor and not having any more children that year.Then again, we could forget the gender and the worksheet for partial year resident adjustments  based on total days in state divided by 28, and simply offer a cash incentive payable to anyone below a specified income level who did not parent a child in a calendar year.
How would libertarians approach tax reform?
First, I object to all taxes on moral grounds. They are theft. Stolen money has a way of tainting all it touches. Yes, that’s a bit esoteric, but it sure seems to in practice. The “invisible hand” is a measurable quantity of shared increase that only happens by the act of voluntary, fully-informed, exchange of value. Taxes (in the US) are not voluntary, they are not fully-informed transactions (think “withholding”,) and they are actually an exchange of debt.Income taxes are the worst possible kind of taxes. They have no place in a supposedly free society. There is simply no way to collect or enforce income tax without some government agency having its nose in all transactions and financial records, and fingers on many. That is the opposite of “secure in papers and effects.” That’s how we have a federal agency that is not constitutionally authorized but whose de facto powers exceed all elected representatives.Worse, income taxes are used as an instrument of social control. That’s what all those exemptions, deductions, and credits are for—this year, Congress wants you to behave this way and not that way. We can choose to act otherwise, but why should we pay the federal bribe to act with individual liberty?If we admit to a need to fund some collective services (defense, courts, etc.) by taxes, then the act of that theft should be as quick and painless as possible, with no chance for venal manipulation and no reason for Gestapo-like collection. Here are a few ideas.Poll tax - not very good, but it’s constitutional. Each state pays the federal government $xx for each person in that state. Each state collects separately. As I said, not very good.VAT or consumption tax - Right now we tax workers. (Soc. Sec. for instance.) Changing to a sales style tax would increase the value of labor relative to machines, as now the latter would be taxed rather than depreciated and the former could be depreciated rather than taxed. It requires zero individual record keeping. It does however make all businesses tax collectors, so it’s still far from perfect.A Forbes-style “flat tax.” If we absolutely feel we must keep taxing income. The truth is that “money-in - compute-stuff - collect x%” is a simple math construct and that the middle term can simply be eliminated, and still retain some “revenue neutral” tax picture. We don’t need exemptions, deductions, credits, depreciation, etc.Even less radical, but effective • change the rules for capital gains, and for deductions. First, make all deductions available to businesses (retirement, travel, medical, taxes, entertainment, clothing, equipment, etc.) also available to individual human taxpayers. Only one set of rules where we don’t steal from people to subsidize business. Second, make the capital gains tax time sensitive. The less time you hold an asset, the greater your tax rate. The stock and commodity markets are supposed to be providing liquidity, not funding high-tech gambling schemes. Pick some reasonable time, let’s say 6 months. Hold an equity that long and tax is 20%. Hold it twice as long and tax is 15%, 10% for 18 months, 5% for two years, and 0 after that. Going the other way, hold it for 3 months and it’s 25%, 6 weeks is 30%, 3 weeks is 35%, • 15 minutes is 80%, 4 min is 90%, 1 min or less is 100%. This eliminates high-speed trading and the gross market distortions is causes. It also promotes long-term investing.In short, there is a lot we could do to clean up federal taxation in the US. Don’t hold your breath. I fully expect to see the same Titanic thrown at us with an only mildy-rearranged set of deck chairs on the Lido deck.
What is the federal and provincial tax rate in Nova Scotia for a monthly salary before tax of CAD 3500 per month? Will this be enough for a family of 4 to survive for a new immigrant?
If you have a single income of $3,500 per month in Nova Scotia, and are a family of four you will (essentially) pay no or very little income tax.It will help to know how the Canadian tax system works. Your employer must withhold some of your income and sends it to government. That amount is determined by your family situation. Annually, before April 30, you must complete forms and show your total income, various tax credits and deductions, and either pay outstanding tax, or claim a refund if too much tax has been withheld.So, when you are hired make sure you fill out the deduction form (TD1) correctly. There is a worksheet that helps and the form itself both online.See page TD1NS-WS Worksheet for the 2022 Nova Scotia Personal Tax Credits Return.Filling out that form will help calculate your tax rate. I would be very surprised if it was not very, very low. There will be some withholding for Canadian Pension Plan and employment insurance. You will get CPP back in the form of income when you are 65, and you hope not to have a period of unemployment. I do not know the numbers, but they may be $200/mo or so.It is WELL worth your while as early in the year as possible - particularly if you are new to Canada - to have a professional help you fill out your tax return and submit it well before April 30. There may be special allowances and credits for you because you are a immigrant. Income tax is a significant part of life in Canada. It is worth doing it right.That information should answer the first part of your question. And, it should give you a hint about the answer to your second question.Your second question is much more difficult to answer because it is largely about attitudes and priorities. If you think like me, your expenses will be -Housing. You can find a two or three bedroom apartment for around $1,500. Maybe more, maybe less. I thought it would be more expensive than that, but checked on Kijiji and Craigslist and that is an adequate budget. You will be asked to pay 1/2 month’s rent as a damage deposit. You will need to buy furniture. Stove and fridge usually come with an apartment. Budget $2,000 to help buy used things from Kijiji. You will want a location near schools, near work, on a bus route, modern with good insulation for winter. Ask what cost of heating and electricity will be, and ask if they are included.Utilities. You will have heat, electricity, telephone, cable, internet, water bills. Around $500 should pay most of those bills. They are important in Canada - heat in particular in the winter. Canadians try to keep their homes at 20c when they are home. Maybe 18c overnight while sleeping, or even 15c if they are not at home. Newcomers from warmer climates like to keep their home at 22c or warmer, and frequently do not adjust the temperature for economy. That is significantly more expensive. Buy sweaters, learn to economize on heat. Typically you will pay a lot for heat in the winter, nothing in the summer. It averages. Your utility services will stop if you do not pay and there may be penalties to restart. Heat, electricity, water (annual bill usually), telephone are essential to survival in Canada. Internet is important for your banking, bill paying, shopping, communication with home, news and potentially education and job hunting. Cable is entertainment and not so important.Transportation. You will want a car for commuting to work, for groceries and family errands, for adventures beyond your neighbourhood. A good used car that will be serviceable for several years can be had for a budget of around $10,000. That is cash outlay, or a loan payment of about $275/mo. Insurance will be around $200 per month, allow an additional $100 per month for maintenance, and $100 per month or more for fuel. That is nearly $1,000 per month total, so you might want to forgo that desire for family mobility during your early time in Canada. Get your driver’s license as early after arrival as possible, it will make life easier later. Take the bus daily, rent a car when you need one. See the Halifax Transit site for pricing of bus passes. Take taxis. Use Uber. Budget $500 per month for transportation. That would allow for a bus pass for you, frequent bus rides for your spouse and children, and a little left over for occasional taxis or rental cars.Food. I am going to say (no support for this whatsoever) that it will cost you around $250 per week, or $1000 per month for food. Your family could eat healthy food for that budget, but not specialty foods like vegan or kosher or halal. You would have to shop carefully and be creative and avoid processed or packaged items. There would be no budget for wine or beer or liquor in that price.That leaves around $500 per month for savings, clothing, personal items, entertainment.So, the answer to your question is, yes, it is possible for a family of four to live on $3,500 per month in or around Halifax, Nova Scotia. It would be VERY difficult to get ahead in life.The numbers I show for budget are quite arbitrary and you might save on those, but really it would sacrifice quality of life. You are moving to Canada to better your quality of life, not reduce it.Personally? I would only consider life under that economic pressure as a stepping stone to a better job or position. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have a few tens of thousands of dollars in reserve for emergencies or extra unexpected expenses. Like losing your job, unfortunate funerals in your home country if parents die, or a car (eventually), like a sudden illness of a child, your spouse or you - the breadwinner. An income of $3,500 would be more than adequate for a single person, but you have a spouse and two children. A single would pay several hundred per month, maybe $1,000 per month in taxes on that salary. There is a reason you will pay next to none.The bad news is that in Canada, you can be very miserable and in deep economic trouble, and very cold and come under a lot of economic pressure. The good news is that there IS a significant social safety net. If you suddenly lose your job your children will continue in school, your health care will continue, and you won’t freeze or starve if things don’t go as planned. Accessing unemployment benefits or other social measures isn’t necessarily easy, but the measures ARE available.So, welcome to Canada!Good Luck!
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