How To Fill Out a W-4: A Complete Guide

How To Fill Out a W-4: A Complete Guide

w4 tax form with money and pen. alfexe / Getty Images/iStockphoto
When you start a modern job — or change your name or marital status — you will probably have to fill out a modern W-4 tax human body. Your complete shape is used to determine how much of your income your employer should withhold for federal taxes, so it ’ sulfur important to take the clock time to fill it out carefully and wholly to avoid a massive bill each tax season .
Read More: IRS 1099 Form Explained — Everything You Need To Know
Find Out: What to Do If You Lost Your W-2

Do you know how to fill out a W-4 form ? If you need a broad summation, keep read for a simple bit-by-bit breakdown .

The Basics: What Is a W-4Form?

The W-4 form — which is an Employee ’ s Withholding Allowance Certificate — is a text file designed to let your employer know how much of your income to withhold for federal taxes. You should fill out a new W-4 when you have started a newly occupation, if your personal site changes or if you want to adjust the sum withhold .
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In fact, the IRS recommends filling out a newly W-4 form every class .
The shape includes the follow fields :

  • Name
  • Address
  • Social Security number
  • Marital status
  • Any additional amount you want to be withheld for each paycheck
  • Whether you are claiming exemption from withholding
  • Your employer’s name and address
  • Your first date of employment
  • Your employer identification number

Check Out: Only 18% of Americans Believe Their Tax Dollars Are Being Spent the Right Way
To help you determine what to claim on a W-4 and the sum to withhold from your paycheck, the IRS provides you with two worksheets :

  • Multiple Jobs Worksheet – Step 2(b) on page 3
  • Deductions Worksheet – Step 4(b) on page 3

These worksheets help guide you to the best suffice to the motion, “ What should be claimed on a W-4 ? ”
note that the IRS designed a new form in 2020, but it is unchanged for 2021. You can download a transcript of the 2021 W-4 class ( with all of the worksheets included ) on the IRS web site. The best way to fill out a W-4 is to start with the worksheets on foliate 3, which will guide you through the application form .
If you already have a W-4 on charge for your existing occupation, you do not need to change anything yet. however, if you started a new job recently, plan to make any personal life sentence condition adjustments, or you want to increase or decrease your measure withhold, you will need to fill out the newly W-4 form .
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It ’ s always a good idea to review your withholdings, so contact your HR representative if you have questions .
Learn More: How To Read Your Pay Stub

Steps To Fill Out a W-4

W-4 Jobs Worksheet Your W-4 form will display respective clear-cut sections for you to fill out. Be sure to only fill out sections that are relevant to your influence and life in the former year. Follow the steps below to complete your W-4 kind with assurance .

step 1 : fill Out the Multiple Jobs Worksheet ( If Applicable )

If you have more than one subcontract at a meter or are married filing jointly and have a work spouse, you should fill out the Multiple Jobs Worksheet .
“ Since your multiple employers don ’ triiodothyronine withhold taxes based on your total wage, the easiest thing to do is to withhold at a higher rate, ” said Audrey Goetz, a certify public accountant, certify evaluation analyst and director at the account firm Rudler, PSC. “ This makes sense if you have, say, two $ 25,000-a-year jobs. Both employers will withhold based on the individual incomes of $ 25,000. however, that does not take into account that you have two jobs that produce $ 50,000 of income, and you could end up underwithheld come year-end. ”
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To fill out this worksheet, you might need to refer to the tables on page 4 .
Keep read for bit-by-bit instructions on how to fill out the Multiple Jobs Worksheet .

1. Line 1 should be filled out if you have two jobs, or you are marry filing jointly and both employed .

Use the “ Higher Paying Job ” row and “ Lower Paying Job ” column from the board on page 4 of your W-4 to find the value at the intersection of your two salaries. enter that number here .
See: Where’s My Refund and Other Ways To Check Your IRS Refund Status

2. If you and/or your spouse have three jobs at the same time, you ’ ll fill out lines 2a, 2b and 2c .

For 2a, use the postpone on page 4. Use the highest paying job ’ sulfur wages on your list for the “ Higher Paying Job ” row, and the annual wages for the future highest paying job in the “ Lower Paying Job ” column. Find the intersection of those two salaries and enter the number under 2a .
For 2b, add the value for the two jobs that have the highest annual wages. Use that sum when reviewing the “ Higher Paying Job ” row. Use the lowest paying caper in the “ Lower Paying Job ” column to find the total from the appropriate table on page 4 .
Add 2a and 2b together for a sum value in 2c .
If this is not relevant to you, skip to pipeline 3 .

3. Using the highest paying job, enter the phone number of annually pay periods. For jobs that pay weekly, embark 52 ; for jobs that pay every early week, record 26 ; and for jobs that pay monthly, enter 12. Put the number on wrinkle 3 .

4. Divide the annual sum on tune 1 or line 2c by the number of pay periods from line 3 and enter the total hera .

insert it again in Step 4 ( vitamin c ) for the highest paying job, and include any extra measure you want to be withheld .
Heads Up: When Will You Get Your Tax Refund? Here’s When to Expect That Check

step 2 : fill Out the Deductions Worksheet ( If Applicable )

W-4 Deductions Worksheet Steps Complete the Deductions Worksheet only if you plan to itemize your deducti ons or claim certain credits on your income tax return. You won ’ t need to do this if you plan on claiming a standard deduction on your income tax render .
If you do fill out this worksheet, follow these steps :

1. Put the calculate come of your 2020

itemized deductions

on credit line 1. This number can include :

  • Medical expenses that are more than 7.5% of your income
  • State and local income taxes up to $10,000
  • Deductible home mortgage interest
  • Investment interest
  • Charitable contributions
  • Casualty and theft losses attributable to a federally declared disaster that are more than $100 and 10% of your adjusted gross income

Find Out: The Most Popular Things To Do With Your Tax Refund

2. then amount you enter on line 2 will depend on your file condition :

  • Enter “ $ 25,100 ” if you are marry filing jointly or a qualify widow ( emergency room ) .
  • Enter “ $ 18,800 ” if you are head of family .
  • Enter “ $ 12,550” if you are single or married filing separately.

Read Next: How To Keep Your Tax Refund From Being Stolen

3. Subtract line 2 from line 1, and put this number on channel 3 .

If the number is zero or less, just put “ 0. ”

4. Use occupation 4 to record an estimate of your scholar lend interest, deductible person retirement report contributions, and other income adjustments from Schedule 1 .

The take after qualify as adjustments to income :

  • educator expenses
  • certain business expenses of reservists, performing artists and fee-basis government officials
  • Health savings account deduction
  • Moving expenses for members of the Armed Forces
  • deductible share of self-employment tax
  • freelance SEP, SIMPLE and qualified plans
  • freelance health policy deduction
  • punishment on early coitus interruptus of savings
  • Alimony paid
  • IRA tax write-off
  • scholar loanword interest deduction
  • tuition and fees deduction

See: Common IRS Tax Forms Explained

5. Add lines 3 and 4, and enter the entire on line 5 .

again, always remember to double-check your mathematics when adding up amounts on your W-4 .

step 3 : Complete the Employee ’ mho

Tax Withholding

Certificate ( All Taxpayers )

once you have completed any applicable worksheets, you can begin filling out the W-4 shape with your tax withholding tax choices that you will give to your employer. ( note : You can not fill out a W-4 on-line because you must submit it to your employer. )

  1. Fill out step 1 fields with your personal information.
  2. complete Steps 2-4 if they apply to you. Step 2 is if you have multiple jobs or your spouse works, Step 3 is for claiming dependents and Step 4 is for early optional adjustments .
  3. Multiple Jobs Worksheet If you fill out Step 2, check box C if you have one job and your spouse has one job. If there are more than two jobs, consumption theon page 3 or the calculator to ensure you are withholding adequate .
  4. If you fill out Step 3, multiply the number of children under senesce 17 by $ 2,000 and put the sum on the line. For all other dependents, multiply the number by $ 500 and put it on the second agate line. Add both amounts and put the total on wrinkle 3 .
  5. dance step 4 is optional. Fill it out alone if there is early taxable income ( not from jobs ), if you have other deductions or if you want to claim extra withholding tax each

    pay period


  6. For Step 5, sign your name and provide today ’ second date. gravitational constantive the form toyour employer to fill out the Employers alone battlefield .

Check Out: Outrageous Ways People Spend Their Tax Refunds

Need To Know: W-4 Form FAQs

You might however need clarification on topics other than how to complete a W-4. here are answers to some frequently asked questions :

1. What ’ s the remainder between a


and a W-2 ?

A W-4 is the IRS tax form you fill out upon employment, so your employer will withhold your desire sum of federal income tax from your paycheck. A W-2 is the IRS tax form you receive from your employer at the end of the tax year. It includes data on how much money you earned, how much money was withheld for federal and state taxes, and other contributions made to Social Security and your employer-sponsored 401 ( thousand ) account. You ’ ll consumption Form W-2 when filing your taxes .

2. What should one do if earning money from two jobs ?

When you have income from two jobs, you only need to complete one W-4 form .
More on Refunds: No. 1 Thing Americans Do With Their Tax Refund

3. How does one know if an employer is withholding besides a lot from a paycheck ?

once your W-4 form takes consequence, you can use the IRS withholding calculator on or reference book Pub. 505 to see whether the sum being withheld is comparable to the projected total tax for the year .

4. Will the measure of money earned from investments and dividends affect the W-4 ?

The IRS classifies investments and dividends as nonwage income. When you are earning a significant come of nonwage income, you can make estimate tax payments using Form 1040-ES to avoid owing extra tax when tax season rolls around .
Learn More: 10 Tax Loopholes That Could Save You Thousands

5. How many allowances can be claimed on a W-4 form ?

Since the IRS made changes to and redesigned the W-4 mannequin, personal allowances nobelium farseeing need to be included for 2020 and ahead .

6. How does the


kind affect net pay ?

Your employer deducts your tax withholdings based on your W-4 form .

7. Is it better to have more gain income withhold to be on the safe side ?

The best matter to do is to cautiously take the meter to fill out the W-4 worksheets and shape to ensure the allow withholding come .
“ If you ’ five hundred preferably have more net wage immediately and deal with the possibility of having to pay higher taxes when filing your tax return, you can do that, ” said Bill Weekes-Ruesch, MBA, CPA. “ Or, you can choose to have more taxes withheld as you go, resulting in either a larger tax refund or lower tax liability when filing your restitution. ”

8. What are the downsides to having more tax withhold and getting a larger refund at the end of the year ?

It may seem dainty to get a bad tax refund in the mail when you claim exemption from withholding on your W-4 tax form, but you ’ ll wish you had access to those funds earlier if you need them for an hand brake or any unanticipated expense. You ’ re likely better off having the money that ’ s rightfully yours in a economy account or other fund than with the IRS, so you can access that money on your own terms .

Fill Out Your W-4 Form Correctly To Avoid a Massive Tax Bill

Do you feel more confident about filling out the W-4 after reading through these steps ? hopefully, this guide and toolkit will help you through the process of filling out your W-4 human body. Whether this is the first meter you have filled out a W-4 or if you have filled out several over the class of your career, it is always good to have a refresher course in ordering to understand what is happening with your gain pay up at every step .
Remember to take your time, read through everything, and meet any documentation you may need to make sure you fill out everything correctly for your tax paperwork.

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About the Author

Gabrielle Olya

Gabrielle Olya

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 

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Category : Finance

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