How to Fill Out a W-4 Form

how to fill out a w4 for dummies

What I’d like to see on these forms is an option to just withhold a straight percentage. I think that would be the easiest thing to do, but the IRS doesn’t listen to me so we’ll have to work with what we’ve got. For more information on how to complete Form W-4, check out the IRS’s website—including FAQs—and read the General Instructions on Page 2 of the form.

  • It’s safer than claiming “exempt” in case you do have some federal tax liability.
  • The General Instructions on Page 2 of the form provide more information on each step, privacy, who can claim exemption, and when to use the online estimator.
  • Joint filing, you and your spouse each have 1 job – the annual amount you will make from your job, and the annual amount your spouse will make from their job.
  • This is because certain factors should only be accounted for on one spouse’s W-4, such as deductions and dependents.
  • And, there is a table for automated payroll systems.

Even if you make a mistake and owe money come tax time, you won’t have a penalty unless you owe over $1,000. Would like to withhold extra tax each pay period for some reason. If you are working 2 jobs between you and your spouse , then check this box. Whether you check this box or not, you still need to complete section 3. Enrolled Agents do not provide legal representation; signed Power of Attorney required. Check a box and have your employer withhold at a default rate.

Tax Planning and Your Financial Plan

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how to fill out a w4 for dummies

Once completed, give the signed form to your employer’s human resources or payroll team. You may also be able to fill it out online through your employer’s payroll system. On line 4, you can instruct your employer to withhold an extra amount of tax from your paycheck. For the highest paying job’s W-4, fill out steps 2 through 4 of the W-4. Leave those steps blank on the W-4s for the other jobs.

No Withholding Allowances

The qualifying employer will be given the credit certificate number by the Iowa Department of Revenue. If you are an independent contractor, do not complete a W-4 for Iowa. Instead, you may be required to make estimated payments on your income. See our individual income tax forms web page for estimated payment information, forms and instructions. Some taxpayers might also qualify for exempt status.

  • There are also tables that correspond with the 2020 and later Forms W-4.
  • If you are exempt from withholding you will write the word “exempt” in this step.
  • This is one of the employment tax responsibilities that are binding on the employers and can entail penalties, in the event of failure.
  • Single taxpayers who make less than $200,000—or those married filing jointly who make less than $400,000—are eligible for the Child Tax Credit.
  • A W-4 with the 0 or 1 question indicates that your employer is using an outdated W-4 form.

If, for example, you had no tax liability for the previous year, or for this year, you can claim exempt status on your W-4. Doing so indicates to your employer to refrain construction bookkeeping from withholding any of your pay for federal taxes. If you choose this option, you will have to fill out a W-4 form each year by Feb. 15 to maintain your exempt status.


This can be done by either changing your deductions and having more tax withheld from paychecks or pension payments, or by making estimated tax payments. It is after the holidays but before spring cleaning which can mean only one thing, tax time is upon you. Gather up your forms and get out your calculator, it is time to figure out exactly what your tax situation is this year.

how to fill out a w4 for dummies

Use the IRS’ online withholding estimator tool to see if there is an amount you will enter on line 4c. If you’re married, only do this if you earn more money than your spouse does. For example, an employee may choose to report passive income from interest, dividends, or retirement in this section to decrease their liability on their annual individual tax return.

New Worksheets

This can be done by indicating that you have fewer dependents than you did on a previous W-4 filing. You can also submit more withholdings in line 4, which will indicate to your employer that you would like them to withhold more than they currently are. Mistakenly filing as exempt can land you a giant bill come tax time, complete with penalties for late payments. According to the IRS, employers are “required by law to withhold employment taxes from their employees,” but the responsibility for filling out Form W-4 correctly belongs to the employee, not the employer. Specifically, new hires must complete Form W-4 before they can receive their first paycheck. To stay compliant, most employers provide Form W-4 during onboarding, along with Form I-9.

If you have a simple tax return, you can file for free yourself with TurboTax Free Edition, or you can file with TurboTax Live Assisted Basic or TurboTax Live Full Service Basic at the listed price. The new Form W-4 is a bit easier to understand because each section shows why adjustments are being made. There are now three main sections used to help determine your withholding. You only complete each section if it applies to your situation.

Use the IRS’s online Tax Withholding Estimator and include the estimate in step 4 when applicable. The W-4 has five steps, including one that is optional. The W-4 form had a complete makeover in 2020 and now has five sections instead of seven to fill out. Ariel Courage is an experienced editor, researcher, and former fact-checker. She has performed editing and fact-checking work for several leading finance publications, including The Motley Fool and Passport to Wall Street.

  • If you are working 2 jobs between you and your spouse , then check this box.
  • If the answer to any of the above-mentioned questions is “yes,” then you should revisit employee’s w4 form within the year.
  • If you and your spouse each allow for child-related tax credits on your W-4, it will likely result in not enough withholding, and having to pay an additional amount to the IRS at end of the year.
  • Make sure to look at student loan interest and IRA contributions, which are included in addition to your deductions estimation.

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