Adjusting your withholding will ensure that you don't have too much (or too little) federal income tax withheld from your paycheck. Use Form W-4 to let your employer know how much you want them to withhold.
Life events such as marriage, divorce, having a baby, or getting a promotion or bonus can have a big impact on your taxes. Filling out a new Form W-4 tells your employer how to calculate federal income tax withholding for your paycheck. That way, you won't wind up owing a big tax bill or having too much money withheld from your paycheck throughout the year.
- If it's been a while since you filled out Form W-4, you should know that the form was entirely redesigned for the 2020 tax year.
- The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 significantly changed federal tax laws, so workers and their employers needed a more up-to-date form to calculate the amount of federal tax to withhold.
Here's what you need to do to complete this form.
Obtain a copy of IRS Form W-4
Your company's human resources or payroll department should be able to provide a copy of Form W-4. If not, you can always download Form W-4 from the IRS website.
Step 1: Enter your personal information
The first step to filling out Form W-4 is relatively easy to complete. Simply provide your name, Social Security number, and address. This section also asks you for your tax filing status.
If you're exempt from withholding — meaning you didn't pay any federal income taxes last year and don't expect to owe any this year — you can choose not to have any federal income tax withheld from your pay. In that case, just skip to Step 4 below. Otherwise, move on to Step 2.
Step 2: Calculate for multiple jobs or a working spouse
You might need help figuring out how to calculate federal withholding tax from your paycheck if
- you have more than one job, or
- you are married and your spouse also works.
The easiest way to do that is to use TurboTax's W-4 Withholding Calculator. It will walk you through a series of questions about your income, tax deductions, and credits, and it provides instructions for completing Step 3 and 4 of the form.
Just remember, while you need to fill out a W-4 for each employer you work for, you should only complete Steps 2 through 4 for your highest paying job. For other jobs, leave those steps blank.
Step 3: Claim any dependents
If you claim any dependents on your tax return, use the results from the W-4 Withholding Calculator to complete this section.
Otherwise, move on to Step 4.
Step 4: Factor other adjustments
This section is a catchall for other income, deductions, and adjustments to your withholding. Use the results from the W-4 Withholding Calculator to complete this section.
Note: If you determined that you're exempt from withholding in Step 2, simply write "EXEMPT" in the space under box 4(c) and move on to Step 5.
Step 5: Sign
The final section of Form W-4 requires you to sign and date the form. Then, simply return the completed form to your payroll department.
If you've been at your job for a while, your employer should already have a W-4 on file. You don't need to fill out a new W-4 if you're happy with your withholding. However, if you change jobs, you'll need to complete the updated version of Form W-4. You can also fill one out any time you want to adjust your withholding.
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