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FAQ

Is it legal to have an unregistered off-the-grid (no birth certificate) baby in the USA?
I was actually roommates with someone in College whose parents decided to have him u201coff-gridu201d. Let me just say this: Stop even entertaining the idea of having a baby off-grid. It really makes your childu2019s life unnecessarily hard and your kid will forever resent you for putting that pain on them.Iu2019ll get into the details in a moment, but first let me address the question proposed above. Yes, technically speaking it is not a crime to have your baby off-the-grid in the U.S.A. However, a lot of details surrounding the event would be illegal. First of all, any licensed midwife or doctor is required by law to file a birth certificate or they actually risk losing their license and getting a misdemeanor. If you forced them or threatened them to not file the birth certificate that would make you a likely accomplice and would not go over well with the authorities.But letu2019s ignore that for a moment and just assume you know how to birth a child on your own and can do it in your basement without any professional medical physician there to oversee you (which would be the only way you could pull this off). In this case you wouldnu2019t get thrown in jail for failing to get a birth certificate and no crime would have been committed. However you just set up a very difficult life for your child.These are some of the things I was told from by my roommate who didnu2019t have a social security number until he was 20 years old.No, he could not get a (legal) jobQuite literally he didnu2019t qualify to get even a job at McDonalds. If you remember the last job you got no matter how prestigious or demeaning it was, you had to fill out a bunch of paperwork. Most of these forms require you to have a SSN (social security number) to properly fill them out. However the important one is the form labeled I-9. This form is required to be submitted by every employer after hiring a new employee. This form serves only one purpose, to determine that you are eligible to work in the United States. Your child (and my roommate) would not be able to complete this form which every employer must get filled out before starting employment with a new employee. Your child will not be able to get a job because of this.Yes, he can evade paying taxes.Okay, so this sounds like a perk I guess. But my roommate did not have to pay taxes. The government basically didnu2019t know he existed, so they never knew he was not paying. But then again he didnu2019t have a job. So would you rather have a job and pay some taxes or not ever be able to work except under the table for below minimum wage? Given that choice, taxes sound pretty awesome! Keep in mind that this also means your child is not eligible for any tax benefits or credits such as those that students get while going to college.No, You as the parent can not claim him as a dependent on your taxesYouu2019re already dealing with a child, wouldnu2019t it be great to get that child tax credit? Every year you'll basically be paying out of pocket for deciding not to get them a SSN.Yes, he can attend public school through 12th gradeHe would be able to attend school through high school without a social security number.No, he can not attend collegeWhile high school and lower education is okay, your child will never be able to attend collegeYes, he can go to the doctorThe doctor will still see your child and provide him his shots. Howeveru2026No, he will not be covered under your family insurance (or qualify for Medicare/Medicaid)So youu2019ll need to plan on paying for all doctor appointments out of pocket.No, he can not travel abroad (even to Canada)Youu2019d best hope none of your childu2019s friends decide to go to Cancun for spring break. Your child will not be eligible to leave the country or return to the US if he manages to leave (unless he plans to climb Trumpu2019s wall)No, he will not be able to drive a carOkay, well nothing is stopping him from physically driving a car, but he would not be able to get a driveru2019s license and thus, can not LEGALLY drive. Hope he doesnu2019t get pulled over.No, he will not be able to voteOnce old enough he will not be able to register to vote.Yes, he can avoid the draftWell the good news is that like taxes, he can skirt the requirement to join the draft when he turns 18.No, he canu2019t get a loanThis means no credit cards, no car loan, no home, nothing. Iu2019m sure plenty of people will claim these are all evil anyway, but these have powerful impacts on someoneu2019s life. There might be times he needs it. (and when used properly none of these are bad things).No, he will not have a credit scoreThis goes with the above one, but he will not be able to work on this which affects your entire life/future. This also will disqualify him from renting most homes or apartments he is looking at.Basically your child will be treated as an illegal immigrant. Why put them through this when they are entitled to the benefits that the United States provides its citizens? There are people in other countries dying to get what your child is entitled to and you are (considering) denying your child those abilities? It just doesnu2019t make sense.Get them a SSN and if your child decides at 20 that he wants to live off-the-grid than he can burn his Social Security Card and go in the woods and hide from the government. But donu2019t be selfish enough to make that decision for them.My roommate resents his parents for not giving him a SSN. While all his friends in high school were driving, he couldnu2019t. While his friends go to Cancun for spring break, he had golden handcuffs in the U.S. and canu2019t leave. And worst of all he said was that while all his friends were earning money from jobs in high school, he couldnu2019t get a job.The job part was the hardest for him. He couldnu2019t leave the house or move out when he turned 18. He was stuck at home.Him working on getting a social security number was difficult and took him two years. He started when he turned 18 to get one once he realized he couldnu2019t go to college, he couldnu2019t get a job, he couldnu2019t rent an apartment, and thus will never really be able to be independent from his parents. It took two years and then at 20 he was able to get one and start working and going to school.He forever resented his parents. Donu2019t be those parentsu2026
How should I fill out my w-2 or w-4 form?
To calculate how much you should withhold you need to calculate two things.u00a0 Step 1 - Estimate your TaxFirst go to Intuit's TaxCaster (Link - TurboTaxu00ae TaxCaster, Free Tax Calculator, Free Tax Refund Estimator) and put in your family's information and income (estimate what you'll make in 2022 before taxes and put zero for federal and state taxes withheld, don't worry that the TaxCaster is for 2022. you're just trying to get a general number).u00a0 Once you enter in your correct information it will tell you what you would owe to the federal government.Step 2 - Estimate your Tax Withholding Based on Allowances ClaimedSecond go to Paycheck City (Link - Salary Paycheck Calculator | Payroll Calculator | Paycheck City) select the correct state, enter in your pay information.u00a0 Select married filing jointly then try putting in 3 or 4 for withholdings.u00a0 Once you calculate it will tell you how much taxes are being withheld.u00a0 Set the pay frequency to annual instead of bi-monthly or bi-weekly since you need a total number for the year.u00a0 Try changing the Federal withholding allowance until you have enough Federal taxes withheld to cover the amount calculated in the TaxCaster.u00a0 The Federal withholding allowance number that covers all taxes owed should be the number claimed on your W-4.Don't worry too much about your state.u00a0 If you claim the same as Federal what will usually happen is you might get a small refund for Federal and owe a small amount for State.u00a0 I usually end up getting a Federal refund for ~$100 and owing state for just over $100.u00a0 In the end I net owing state $20-40.Remember, the more details you can put into the TaxCaster and Paycheck City the more accurate your tax estimate will be.u00a0
How can something as vital for a country as taxes papers be so poorly designed?
You are asking why tax forms are so complicated?u00a0 They actually used to be a lot worse back in the 1980's, but that is not an excuse for the way they are now.u00a0u00a0 There are a number of reasons they are so complicated:The tax on a lot of things does not happen at the time of the transaction.u00a0 An example of taxes that happens at the time of transaction is sales tax.u00a0 An example of a tax that does not happen at the time of a transaction is sale of stock.u00a0 So if you sold stock during the year, you will have to fill out one or two additional forms.u00a0 Same with gambling winnings etc.u00a0 The reason the tax on these transactions does not happen like sales tax is because gains can be offset with losses.u00a0 So they are complicated and hard to automatically tax.u00a0 This is just one example of why there are so many forms.The political leadership of the U.S. tries to indirectly provide incentives for certain activities through taxes and as long as they do this, taxes will be hard to simplify.u00a0 Solaru00a0 power tax credits are like this, home ownership are like this.The political leadership of the U.S. has a hard time budgeting so it is easier for them to vote for tax deductions and tax credits for certain kinds of programs.u00a0 An example of this is if you have a child with a disability.u00a0 The Congress created a tax credit for this child rather than make a government program to help couples cope with a child's disability.u00a0 There are all kinds of rules about what qualifies a child to receive this deduction making it hard to understand the taxes.
Is it true the more children you have in the US, the more tax that you have to pay?
No, itu2019s the exact opposite.Thatu2019s why when you get a job, you have to fill out a form (a W4, you can google it), that asks how many children you have so it can take less out of your taxes.Then, when you do your tax returns, they ask how many children you have so they can funnel you child credits, child care credits, education credits, and tons of other tax benefits from having more kids.
Whatu2019s the maximum number that you can claim on your W4 to break even and not owe any taxes next year?
Letu2019s 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 u201cguessu201d as to what this tax liability will be, so that the proper amount of money is regularly withheld to cover this liability. If you donu2019t 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 youu2019ve had withheld during the year closely matches your tax liability come April 15th.
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