The Virtues of a Summer Job

In parts of the country where students will return to school in mid-August, much of the summer is already gone and employers may not be as eager to hire as they were in the spring. But often, entry-level jobs suitable for teenagers have high turnover, so it’s worth checking again, even if you didn’t find a job earlier in the summer, Mr. Challenger said.

Here are some questions and answers about summer jobs:

Why did my summer employer give me a tax form?

When you’re hired, your employer gives you a Form W-4, also known as a withholding allowance certificate, which tells the employer how much tax to deduct from your paycheck. The amount withheld is based on the number of so-called allowances you claim; the more allowances claimed, the less money withheld for taxes and the more cash you’ll see in your paycheck, said April Walker, lead manager for tax practice and ethics at the American Institute of CPAs. (The form is being revised because of last year’s tax bill, but the new version isn’t yet ready for official use.)

The W-4 form has a work sheet to help you decide how many allowances to claim, but it can get complicated. So even if you expect to earn relatively little income, you should consider claiming one allowance, or even zero allowances, to help cover any tax bill, tax experts say.

If you end up having too much withheld, you can get a refund by filing a tax return next year.

The Internal Revenue Service offers more tips for students with summer jobs.

Can I put money earned from a summer job into a Roth I.R.A.?

Yes. If you have earned income, you can open a Roth I.R.A., a retirement savings account, and begin saving and investing the money, said Mark Luscombe, principal federal tax analyst at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting. Saving early, even if it’s just a small amount, means your investment will have a long time to grow. Your parents or another relative can even add money to the Roth for you, up to the maximum amount — $5,500 for 2018.

Why not just take the summer off and work during the school year?

Having a job during the school year can be fine, as long as you don’t overdo it. There’s a link between intense school-year employment — 20 or more hours a week — and the risk of dropping out, said Jeremy Staff, a professor of sociology and criminology at Penn State University. So it’s wise to limit your hours, if you can afford to.

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