I just landed my first job - what in the world do I do about my state and federal tax withholding?

Staff Report
December 13, 2006 at 11:47 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Dear Mr. Suffrin: I am 16 years old. I just got my first job at a pet store, but I am confused about the allowances section I need to fill out on the W-4 worksheet. If my parents are claiming me on their taxes, then what allowances should I claim? Also, can you explain to me the different taxes that will be taken out of my paycheck and what they are for? -Curious About Taxes, Destrehan

Dear Curious: The allowances you claim should be based on the amount of wages you receive. For practical purposes, if you will earn less than $4,500 for the year, you should tell your employer not to withhold federal and state income tax because you will not owe any taxes at year end.

If you will earn more than that, then you should claim one allowance on both the W-4 (federal) and L-4 (state) forms, so you will have taxes paid into the IRS and State Department of Revenue to minimize any individual income taxes you may owe next April on the filing of your income tax returns.

Your employer may have federal and state income taxes withheld (if you choose to - see above) for individual income tax purposes.

Your employer must withhold Fica and Medicare taxes from your paycheck - this is the law. Fica and Medicare taxes are to pay for Social Security and Medicare.

Students' questions about finances answered - only in the St. Charles Herald-Guide. Financial expert and school board member-elect Al Suffrin, a certified public accountant, takes on the tough questions from parish kids- and their parents - in an important weekly column everyone should read. Send YOUR questions to: or write: MONEYTALK, P.O. Box 1199, Boutte, LA

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