When you first get a job, start-up paperwork can be overwhelming. Take the paperwork a piece at a time and the tasks will begin to make sense; the information below should help.
The W-4 is a federal form that determines how much tax is withheld from your check. The fewer dependents you claim, the more tax will be withheld from your check. If you want to make sure you don't end up paying a large amount in April, make this number 1 or 0. If you'd rather have a larger paycheck and you can handle owing a little tax at the end of the year, claim the number of exemptions that you are entitled to on your W-4 worksheet.
The I-9 is a federal form that the Immigration and Naturalization Service requires. It ensures that you are a United States citizen or that you are eligible to work in this country. As a U.S. citizen, you need to show proof with a passport or two other forms of ID. If you are not a citizen of the United States, you will need to prove that you are authorized to work in this country.
If your employer offers health insurance, you will be required to complete a health insurance application that outlines your complete medical history. It may seem like a lot of trouble to go through, but having a record of your medical history can be a literal lifesaver.
The best part of a new job – payday. It’s great to start making money, but don’t be surprised if your check has less money than you expected, since the salary you agreed to is pre-tax. The federal government withholds Social Security tax, Medicare tax and your federal taxes. State and local governments take out taxes as well. Your company may also take cash out for your health insurance and a 401(k) contribution. That doesn’t mean you’re being ripped off – it just means you should pay attention and expect a little skimming off the top.
Life insurance can be difficult to think about, but it will help provide for your loved ones in case something happens. Your beneficiary—the person who receives payments from your life insurance policy if you should die, should be the person you support the most, usually a spouse or close family member. If you don't have a spouse or children, you may want to list a parent as your beneficiary.
If your company has a 401(k) program, you'll get paperwork for that, too. Read it over and immediately sign yourself up. A 401(k) program is a great way to start saving for retirement and possibly increase your after-tax paycheck. Learn more about 401(k) plans.
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