If I’ve been working for about 3 months and I have never filled out a W4, will I owe taxes?

I lwork as a pharmacy technician for a private pharmacy. He gave me a paper to fill out for a payroll company to pay me which asked me about the allowances I claim. Weeks later when I received my first check, he wrote me a personal check and estimated the deductions to be withheld and that’s what he took out of my paycheck. Now he has some payroll software set up on his computer and gives me a deductions sheet. I noticed that there are no state taxes being taken out. I think that he is claiming an allowance that i did not agree to just to save himself money. What should I do?

Asked on June 30, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You are obligated to pay the appropriate taxes regardless of whether or not your employer properly accounts for them or takes them out--there are cases where you might have a legal claim against the employer, for any costs, interests, penalties, etc. you incurred due to his failure or omission, but that does not obviate your responsibility to pay in the first place. First, you probably should see if you can't straighten it out with your employer--maybe he's simply not using the software right. However, if he cannot or will not correct matters, you probably should contact the state tax authorities, explain what's happened, and indicate that you are will to pay the appropriate sums. They may try to hit you with some fine or interest, but it will be much less if you voluntarily come forward and approach them about the situation than if you don't.

The above said, since tax matters can be complex, before acting, you should probably meet with and retain a CPA who does tax work, who can help you understand you liability and obligations; also, such a CPA is probably better placed to talk to tax authorities than you are.

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