W-4 allowances is a common topic of confusion.
If you are filling out a W-4 and have no idea how many allowances to claim, you’re not alone. Most people don’t know how to fill out a W-4. However, it’s very important to be aware of the number of allowances you claimed or plan to claim, or you may end up having to pay a lot in taxes.
The W-4 form determines how much tax is withheld from your paycheck each pay period. That means, if there too much tax withheld throughout the year, you’ll end up receiving a tax refund when filing your taxes. The opposite is also true. If too little tax is withheld from your paycheck, you’ll end up having to pay taxes later on.
What determines the number of allowances to claim?
The number of allowances you claim on your W-4 is dependent on your life circumstances. It depends on the number of jobs you have, if you’re married or single and how many children and personal exemptions you have along with your stance in the federal tax table.
The following explanations will help you determine how many allowances to claim. Another great tool is the IRS Withholding Calculator. The W-4 allowance calculator determines your withholding based on your specific life details.
I’m single and have no kids, how many allowances should I claim?
Claiming Zero: If you claim zero, the maximum amount in tax is withheld from your paycheck. This means you’ll most likely receive a refund when filing your taxes.
Claiming One. If you are single, have no kids and have one job, you should probably claim one. This means, you’ll probably receive a refund when filing your taxes and you also won’t have the maximum amount taken out from your paychecks.
Claiming Two: If you are single and work more than one job, you can claim two at one job and zero at the other, or claim one at each job.
I’m married with no kids, how many allowances should I claim?
Claiming Zero: If you have a combined income that falls within the 28% or higher tax brackets, claim zero and you will owe less money during tax time.
Claiming One: If your combined income falls below the 28% tax bracket and you both work, you should each claim one. You’ll break even or get a small refund back when filing.
Claiming Two. If only one of you work and your income falls below the 28% tax bracket, you should claim two.
I’m married with one child, how many allowances should I claim?
Claiming One: If both spouses work, it’s best for each of you to claim one. This way you will probably will break even come tax season.
Claiming Two: If only one spouse works, the working spouse can claim two and will probably come close to breaking even when filing taxes.
For each additional child or dependent, just add one to the number of allowances based on the the example above.
Someone is claiming me as their dependent, how many do I claim?
Claim Zero: If you are being claimed as someone’s dependent, you should claim 0.
Life changes everyday. You will need to change your W-4 allowances if you have recently had one of the following occur in your life; marriage, divorce, a new child, a second job, the purchase of a new home, etc. The bottom line is, the more allowances you claim, the smaller amount of taxes your employer will withhold. If too little is withheld, known as under-withholding, you could end up with a large tax bill when filing.
If you forgot to file taxes from a previous year and curious if you had too much or too little tax withheld based on your W-4 from that prior year, you can file online now. Filing taxes on PriorTax is a straightforward and quick process. Why not start filing now?
Photo via Kristen Fenton on Flickr