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How to Fill Out a W-4 Form Correctly

The W-4 form tells your employer how much it should withhold from your check for federal income tax purposes. Filling it out correctly can prevent you from paying too little or too much throughout the year. Here’s what you need to know when completing your W-4.

Step 1

Enter your first name and middle initial, last name, social security number, home address, and filing status. Filing status options are single or married filing separately, married filing jointly or widower, or head of household.

Step 2

If you work more than one job or if your spouse also works and you file married jointly, complete step 2 of the W-4. Completing this step requires you to choose from three options:

  1. Estimating your withholdings via the online estimator located at https://www.irs.gov/individuals/tax-withholding-estimator
  2. Calculating your withholdings using the Multiple Jobs Worksheet on page 3 of the W-4
  3. Checking the box if both jobs are similar in pay (this same box has to be checked on your W-4 for the other job, whether held by you or our spouse)

Options one and two will give you an estimated withholding amount that will be used in step 4, under section “c” of that step.

Step 3

If you claim dependents and your income is below $200,000 when filing single or head of household (or below $400,000 when filing married jointly), this section needs to be completed.

For every child under the age of 17, add $2,000 and place this amount on the top line. If you have other dependents, such as an elderly parent that you take care of, add $500 for each of these individuals and place this amount on the second line.

Add the total of the two and this goes on the far-right side of the form for this section.

Step 4

Step 4 is completed if you have any other income, if your deductions are outside of the standard so you want to reduce your withholdings, or if you chose option one or two in step 2 due to you holding multiple jobs or your spouse also working. The amount for each is written in the appropriate spot on the W-4.

Step 5

The final step to completing your W-4 is signing and dating it.

W-4 Sections That Must Be Completed

Although the W-4 has five sections, the only two that you must be sure to complete are steps 1 and 5. If none of these other situations apply, completing steps 1 and 5 tells your employer to withhold taxes based on the standard deductions and rates associated with your filing status.

Updating Your W-4

Any time your filing status changes, update your W-4. This includes if you get married or divorced, if you pick up another job, or if you have children or add any new dependents. Making these updates as they occur can prevent you from overpaying or underpaying your federal taxes.Still have questions? Contact us at (800) 309-7790 or fill out our convenient online form. We are here to help!

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