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i know there is a big tax advantage to maxing out your 401k, but does this mean that if i had the same income/expenses as last year that i should be getting a bigger refund? i thought maybe i could invest the refund that i receive because of putting money in the 401k .

Briefly, depending on what your income tax bracket is (I assume you make around $40 if the $149 every two weeks is 10% of your income - without knowing anything else your marginal rate as an individual is in the 28% bracket plus you'll get a deducation for state income tax as well, if there is any in your state) that $149 pre-tax may net out to the same as the $110 after tax. If you want your take home pay to stay the same you may have to adjust your w-4 withholding to reflect to the lower income. Otherwise, yes, you'll get a bigger refund when you file your taxes
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