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At my workplace, a couple of people claim themselves plus 9 dependents for 1/2 year. Then they claim only themselves for the other half. One has no children and the other has 5 (unmarried). Is this legal or common?


It is not legal - the law says you can't claim more dependents than you actually have. The reason they claim 9 is that the IRS requires proof (i.e. SS#) to claim 10 or more dependents. Claiming 9 dependents will usually result in NO witholding, which is why they do it. However, wouldn't just claiming 5 for the year be easier?

As far as being common, I have used this strategy before to balance out overwitholding; I ended up owing $100 at the end of the year, rather than getting a $900 refund. I found out about it from someone else who routinely did it.

I have found that projecting our income, deductions and current witholding, then using the IRS payroll tables ( go to )to calculate adjustments is more accurate. Especially when my company adds $20K to income due to move. DW is also a contract employee - since her income flucutates wildly, I recalculate every two months.

Last year we got $300 back (vs $2300 back the year before). My goal is to owe the IRS less than $10 some year.
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