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At what I expect your total household income is, your top federal income tax rate is 15% + 6.2% for social security. So the difference in tax liability (not including state income taxes) is roughly $212 for each $1000 put into the Roth 401k rather than the traditional 401k.

Sorry, that's incorrect. Both Traditional and Roth 401(k) contributions are subject to the 6.2% SS tax (as well as the 1.45% Medicare tax), so you don't need to adjust for that. By contributing to the Roth instead of the pre-tax account, the OP's husband's income would put them right at the border of the 12%/22% bracket for MFJ after taking the standard deduction into account. So basically, what's going to happen is that whatever income the OP makes will effectively be taxed at 22%. If the husband were to max out the Traditional 401(k) and the OP makes less than $19k allowable Roth 401(k) contribution for 2019, her income would all be taxed at 12%. If the husband contributes to the Roth, all of the OP's income will be taxed at 22%.

To the OP: With 26 paychecks/year (paid every 2 weeks), to make $19000 in contributions, your husband would need to contribute $731 every each paycheck (about a 21% contribution rate). Adding in taxes at 12%, that would mean $840 impact to your husband's paycheck every 2 weeks.

If he was contributing $840 pre-tax every 2 weeks in 2018, he would have maxed out his 401(k) at $18,500 in 23 paychecks - so you should have 3 paychecks at the end of the year without having deductions for the 401(k) contribution. You can have the essentially the same net income by contributing to the Roth, except you won't have those 3 larger paychecks at the end of the year. So if you are using that to, say, pay for the holidays, you might want to consider up the Roth contribution from $731/paycheck to $840/check (a 24% rate). That will still give you 3 paychecks at the end of the year without any 401(k) contributions. It will decrease your net income by $95 every 2 weeks, compared to his current contribution of $840 every 2 weeks to the Traditional 401(k).

Because of the tax impact on your income, if you still want a large refund, you might want to change your withholding to Single, zero. But if you don't mind getting smaller/no refund, as long as you make $20k or less/year, you should be okay.

AJ
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