Form W-4 is a form that employees fill out when they start a new job or make changes to their tax withholding. Form W-4 tells the taxpayer’s employer how much federal income tax to withhold from their paychecks.
Form W-4 Explained
Form W-4 consists of several sections that ask for information about the employee’s tax filing status, number of allowances they are claiming, and any additional income they want to have taxed.
Form W-4 starts with the employee’s personal information, including their name, address, and Social Security number.
Next, form W-4 asks the employee to select their filing status. The options are:
- Married filing jointly
- Married filing separately
- Head of household
The employee’s filing status affects the amount of tax they owe and the tax rates that apply to their income.
Download New Printable IRS W-4 Form as PDF:
You can download the new printable form W-4 directly from the IRS as a PDF at irs.gov
W-4 Withholding Calculator:
To estimate the federal income tax you would like your employer to withhold, use the IRS Tax Withholding Calculator here.
This W-4 withholding calculator can:
- Estimate your federal tax withholding
- See how your tax refund or tax due is affected by your withholding amount
- Better choose an amount to withhold
Tip: Don’t use the W4 calculator if you have a pension but not a job. In that case, you’ll probably want to file form W-4P
Claim Allowances in Form W-4:
Form W-4 also has a section where the employee can claim allowances. An allowance is a reduction in the amount of income that is subject to tax. Each allowance reduces the amount of tax withheld from the employee’s pay.
The more allowances you report on the W-4, the less tax will be withheld.
Not sure how many allowances to claim? Form W-4 has a worksheet that the employee can use to help determine the appropriate number of allowances to claim based on their tax situation.
Claim Additional Income on Form W-4
Form W-4 also has a section where the employee can specify any additional income they want to have taxed. This might include income from a second job or self-employment income.
Request Tax to Be Withheld on Form W-4
Finally, Form W-4 has a section where the employee can request a specific dollar amount of tax to be withheld from each paycheck. This is called a “flat dollar amount.”
If the employee requests a flat dollar amount, it will be used to calculate the amount of tax withheld instead of the number of allowances claimed.
Review Your Form W-4 Periodically
It’s important for employees to review their Form W-4 periodically and make any necessary updates to ensure that the right amount of tax is being withheld from their pay. This is especially true if you’ve recently changed jobs or have a new source of additional income.
An accurate form W-4 can help avoid underpayment or overpayment of tax and can help employees avoid a tax bill or penalty at the end of the year.
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