What Is a W4 and How Should You Fill It Out?

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1. Let’s Start Filling Out Your W4!
2. Do You Have an Updated Resume on File?

When you get a new job, one of the first tasks you have as a new hire is to fill out a mountain of paperwork. It’s important to pay attention to each and every form and dedicate time and attention to anything you fill out and sign. One of the most important forms you’ll have to navigate as someone new to the workforce is the W4 tax form from the IRS.

The reason you need to fill out this form is to tell the IRS and your employer how much tax you want withheld from your paycheck.

The reason you need to fill out this form is to tell the IRS and your employer how much tax you want withheld from your paycheck. The money withheld gets sent to the IRS, and your employer issues a W2 form to you summarizing this information each year before you file your taxes. The form itself can be confusing and daunting, so breathe easy and check out this guide on how to fill out a W4.

Let’s Start Filling Out Your W4!


All About That Exempt Status


As the beginning of how to fill out a W4 form, you need to select your exempt status. You have to determine whether you need to have taxes withheld from your paycheck. If you are eligible for not having to pay federal taxes to the IRS, you should claim exempt status. Claiming exempt status means your employer won’t take out any federal income tax from your paycheck. They will still take out taxes for Medicare and Social Security.

Very few workers are eligible to claim exempt status. If you anticipate your income this year will be less than $10,350, then you should consider claiming exempt. Additionally, if you are someone else’s dependent and produce a small salary, it may make sense to claim exempt on your W4. Some workers mess up and never understand how to fill out a W4 by wrongly electing exempt status. At tax time in April, they end up paying much more to the IRS because of this.

The Meaning of Personal Allowances


The next step on how to fill out a W4 is to review and complete the worksheets that accompany the form. The first is your “Personal Allowances” form. This worksheet helps you determine how many deductions you can claim on the W4 form. If you claim more allowances, your employer will take out less federal income tax. Here are guidelines to most situations for claiming personal allowances:

  • Zero allowances: Choose no allowances if you are a student and your parents or guardians claim you as a dependent.
  • One allowance: Elect for one allowance if you only work one job, live independently, and don’t have a spouse.
  • Two allowances or more: If you have a spouse, children, or others to claim as dependents, you should allow for more allowances. For every child you have, claim an additional allowance.

 

Understanding Deductions and Adjustments


The next worksheet to fill out is the “Deductions and Adjustments” worksheet. As you master how to fill out a W4 form, you also need to understand how taxable income works. The higher your taxable income is, the more tax you’ll have to pay. If you claim deductions and adjustments, you can lower your tax liability and owe less money in taxes.

It’s more common to take the standard deduction and avoid filling out this worksheet. However, some individuals should opt out of the standard deduction and go through the IRS withholding calculator to figure out all of the deductions and credits they may be eligible for. If you operate a business, incur a lot of work expenses, or have some other situation where you need to itemize your deductions, you should complete this worksheet.

Tips for Married People or Employees With Two Jobs


Another form you may need to fill out is the “Two Earners or Multiple Jobs” worksheet. This one is crucial to master when figuring out how to fill out a W4 form. Like some other worksheets, not every worker needs to fill this out. This form is primarily for married people or those who have more than one job. If married, you should fill this out if your spouse also has a job.

You need to have information about your partner’s income on hand to determine which job compensates higher between the two of you. Here are the necessary steps you need to complete for this worksheet:

  • Enter the number from your “Deductions and Adjustments” worksheet on Line 1.
  • Refer to “Table 1” at the bottom of the worksheet to complete Lines 2–9 when entering in details about the lower paying job.
  • Use “Table 2” at the bottom of the worksheet to complete Lines 2–9 for details about the higher paying job.
  • Follow the directions to make the calculations on the worksheet for the amount you need to withhold from your paycheck.

Putting It All Together



Once you’ve filled out all relevant worksheets, you’re finally ready to discover how to fill out a W4 form. You’ll need the figures from each worksheet to use for your W4. Begin by entering in your name, address, social security number, and marital status. Then, complete the following steps:

  • Enter the number from Line H of the “Personal Allowances” worksheet or Line 10 of your “Deductions and Adjustments” worksheet on Line 5.
  • Input the number from Line 9 of the “Two-Earners” worksheet (if you used this form) on Line 6.
  • Review all of the information for accuracy, sign the form, and give it back to your employer.

 

Make Changes When Needed


After you complete your W4 form, you may think that’s it; you don’t have to worry about it ever again. Actually, depending on life events and employment changes, chances are good that you’ll need to revise your W4 form several times during your working career.

Actually, depending on life events and employment changes, chances are good that you’ll need to revise your W4 form several times during your working career.

 

If your marital status changes or if you have kids, you’ll need to review these directions about how to fill out a W4 form once again and make some changes to your allowances. Additionally, if you decide to search for another job, you won’t just have to revamp your resume for success. You’ll also need to complete another W4 form for your next employer

Do You Have an Updated Resume on File?



When you’re ready to make your next job change, it will be much easier if you already have a well-written and updated resume on file. Check out the resume builder from MyPerfectResume to give yourself a head start on securing your next job. This tool gives you personalized content for your specific industry and helps you create something impressive.