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What Are Allowances on a W-4?

W-4 form determines how much tax is withheld from your pay & the size of your tax refund. Lowering the # of allowances on a W-4 means a larger tax refund.

The W-4 form determines how much tax is withheld from your wages based on how many allowances you claim

Form W-4 [Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate] determines how much federal, state, local, Social Security, and Medicare tax is withheld from your paychecks. When beginning a new job, you must fill out this form and give it to your employer, even if you are exempt from withholding.

On the W-4 you can claim a certain number of allowances depending on your life situation. It’s these allowances that determine your withholding (and size of refund or tax due when filing your taxes).

If you claim 0 allowances, the maximum amount of taxes will be withheld. For every additional allowance you claim, a little less tax will be withheld from your paycheck.

The Number You Should Claim

The details to your specific situation (such as your filing status, number of children, etc) will determine how you should fill out your W-4.

If your parents claim you: 

If you’re being claimed as a dependent on someone’s tax return, you’ll want to claim 0 allowances. This is because your parents are claiming you as an exemption, rather than you claiming yourself.

If You’re Single: 

  • & Working One Job: If you definitely want a refund, claim 0. However, you will have more tax withheld from each paycheck, meaning smaller paychecks. Choosing to claim 1 allowance will guarantee you a refund at the end of the tax year, without having the maximum tax withheld from your pay. Claiming two allowances will most likely get you the closest to your tax obligations, but when everything is said and done you may end up owing the IRS a modest sum.
  • & Working Two Jobs: If you work two jobs and are filing as single, ideally you would claim one allowance at each job. If you already claimed 0 at one job,  claim 2 allowances at the other job. If you want a larger refund when tax season rolls around, claim one allowance at one job and zero at the other.

If You’re Married:

  • Without Kids: You should claim 2 allowances if your spouse does not work. If your spouse does work, each of you should claim 1 allowance.
  • With Kids: If you are married with a kid, you and your spouse combined should generally claim 3 allowances. For each additional child, add an allowance. So, if you’re married with two kids, as a couple, you would claim a total of 4 allowances, meaning each of you would ideally claim 2 allowances on your W-4s.

If You’re Head of Household

  • You can claim additional allowances if your filing status is head of household. In other words, if you’re single with two kids and eligible for head of household filing status, you would claim four allowances.

If You’re Still Confused

Allowances can be difficult to determine. Everyone should complete the Personal Allowances Worksheet on the first page of the W-4. Those who plan to itemize deductions should complete the Deductions and Adjustments Worksheet on page 2 and those with two jobs or a spouse who works should complete the Two-Earners/Multiple Jobs Worksheet on page 2 also.

If you still need help, the IRS Withholding Calculator tool will help you determine your allowances.

When you file your return, make sure your withholding more or less lines up with your tax obligations. If you have a big tax bill after filing, you’ll want to lower your number of allowances on your W-4.

You Can Adjust Your W-4 Allowances

Remember to adjust your W-4 if there are major changes in your life. If you get married or divorced, or gain or lose a dependent, you will need to change the number of allowances you claim. Likewise, if you become or cease to be someone else’s dependent you will likely have to change your withholding.

Withholding is something everyone needs to pay attention to, whether you’re looking ahead to the upcoming tax season or filing back tax returns online.

If you’re not happy with your refund amount after filing your taxes, think about changing the number of allowances on your W-4.

Photo via Chris Potter on Flickr.

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105 Responses to “What Are Allowances on a W-4?”

  1. Chris says:

    You said “generally” regarding married with one child claiming 3 and married with two children claiming 4. Can you give me some examples that would be exceptions to those rules? I’m married with one child and one on the way in February. Our joint incomes will be around $200k. Thanks!!!

  2. rachel norkett says:

    married but separated got 3 to claim on my taxes this year. 2700 a month. what can I expect to get back on my taxes?

    • admin says:

      Hi Rachel,

      Your refund amount depends on a number of different variables. I suggest creating an account and entering your information. Before having to pay anything, you will be able to see the estimated refund amount that you can expect to receive.

  3. Michael says:

    Hello, I am not married but I pay 100% of the rent and live with my fiance and my newborn son. What allowances should I claim if any? Am I eligible to file as head of household?

    • admin says:

      Hi Michael,

      I suggest claiming one or two on your W-4 form.

      The general rule is that the more allowances you claim, the less withholding you’ll have taken out of your paycheck. By following the directions on the Personal Allowances Worksheet of your W-4, you will calculate the maximum amount that you can claim. However, you can always claim less than that to ensure that enough will be withheld from each paycheck. If you claim zero, you’ll have the maximum amount taken out. If you claim a larger number, you’ll have less taken out. The absolute ideal scenario is to have your tax liability (or refund) at the end of the year be as close to zero as possible.

      I also suggest taking a look at the IRS Withholding Calculator. It only takes a few minutes to complete and will give you the most accurate amount of allowances to claim in order to reach that break-even point at the end of the tax year.

      Generally, you can claim head of household only if you are unmarried and pay more than 50% of the costs of keeping up a home for yourself and your dependents or other qualifying individuals.

  4. James says:

    Let’s say I changed my allowances to a big number jus to get less tax taken out of my check. Is that gonna end up biting me in the ass? I my mom still carried me on her takes.

    • admin says:

      Hi James,

      Updating your W-4 to claim a large number could cause you to owe the IRS at the end of the tax year.

      The general rule is that the more allowances you claim, the less withholding you’ll have taken out of your paycheck. By following the directions on the Personal Allowances Worksheet of your W-4, you will calculate the maximum amount that you can claim. However, you can always claim less than that to ensure that enough will be withheld from each paycheck. If you claim zero, you’ll have the maximum amount taken out. If you claim a larger number, you’ll have less taken out. The absolute ideal scenario is to have your tax liability (or refund) at the end of the year be as close to zero as possible.

  5. Jane says:

    I got married this summer. I work 2 part time jobs and my husband works 1 full time job. How many allowances should we put? I currently have 2 myself and my husband has 1. Should we change anything? Thanks!

    • admin says:

      Hi Jane,

      I suggest you each claim one on your W-4s. Since you are employed at two jobs, you can claim zero on one of your W-4s and one on the other.

  6. Kay says:

    If I have Myself, a child, daycare expenses, and the child tax credit, do I have to claim all of these? I don’t want to have to pay at tax time, and is getting to big of a tax refund bad?

    • admin says:

      Hi Kay,

      You definitely can claim less on your W-4.

      The general rule is that the more allowances you claim, the less withholding you’ll have taken out of your paycheck. By following the directions on the Personal Allowances Worksheet of your W-4, you will calculate the maximum amount that you can claim. However, you can always claim less than that to ensure that enough will be withheld from each paycheck. If you claim zero, you’ll have the maximum amount taken out. If you claim a larger number, you’ll have less taken out. The absolute ideal scenario is to have your tax liability (or refund) at the end of the year be as close to zero as possible.

  7. Deepak says:

    Hi

    I need some help in updating my allowances. I am married and I am the only person working in my house. I don’t have any kids. So what should I be putting in allowances so that I just pay what I owe as federal taxes?

    I tried filling up the allowances calculator. It was showing up as 25 allowances. Not sure if I missed something there. I am quite confused.

    Thanks.

    • admin says:

      Hi Deepak,

      I suggest claiming one or two on your W-4 form.

      The general rule is that the more allowances you claim, the less withholding you’ll have taken out of your paycheck. By following the directions on the Personal Allowances Worksheet of your W-4, you will calculate the maximum amount that you can claim. However, you can always claim less than that to ensure that enough will be withheld from each paycheck. If you claim zero, you’ll have the maximum amount taken out. If you claim a larger number, you’ll have less taken out. The absolute ideal scenario is to have your tax liability (or refund) at the end of the year be as close to zero as possible.

      I also suggest taking a look at the IRS Withholding Calculator. It only takes a few minutes to complete and will give you the most accurate amount of allowances to claim in order to reach that break-even point at the end of the tax year.

  8. Kristin says:

    Hello,

    I am single with 2 children. I live with my fiance, who claims the children on his W-2. I have started a new job and was wondering if I can I claim 3 on my W-4?

    Thank you!

    • admin says:

      Kristin,

      The amount that you claim on your W-4 is just to control the amount that is withheld from each of your paychecks throughout the year. If you look at a W-4, you will notice that there is a worksheet on the top of your form. This is to give you an estimate in how many allowances you should claim to get as close as possible to not owing the IRS or receiving an enormous refund. This top portion does not need to be given to your employer or even filled out for that matter.

      Keep in mind that you can generally choose the amount of allowances you claim on your W-4 but the more you claim, the less is withheld from your paychecks and the higher your chance of owing at the end of the year.

  9. shalonda says:

    Hi, I just got a divorce, and I have a daughter in college and a son in high school what number of allowance do I claim

    • admin says:

      Hi Shalonda,

      I suggest claiming no more than three allowances to avoid owing the IRS.

      The general rule is that the more allowances you claim, the less withholding you’ll have taken out of your paycheck. By following the directions on the Personal Allowances Worksheet of your W-4, you will calculate the maximum amount that you can claim. However, you can always claim less than that to ensure that enough will be withheld from each paycheck. If you claim zero, you’ll have the maximum amount taken out. If you claim a larger number, you’ll have less taken out. The absolute ideal scenario is to have your tax liability (or refund) at the end of the year be as close to zero as possible.

      Since you have not provided your income or if you will be filing as head of household, I also suggest taking a look at the IRS Withholding Calculator. It only takes a few minutes to complete and will give you the most accurate amount of allowances to claim in order to reach that break-even point at the end of the tax year.

  10. Michael says:

    Here is my question:

    I am married and have two little kids at home. My wife does not work, and I work only one job. When I answer the questions verbatim on the W-4 form, I wind up with “7” allowances. Is this correct?

    Line A: 1 (for me)
    Line B: 1 (for me)
    Line C: 1 (for my spouse)
    Line D: 2 (for my kids)
    Line G: 2 (for my kids again)
    ———-
    Total: 7

    Is that right? This confuses me greatly. I would rather get a small refund at the end of the year instead of owing money, but I want to try to come as close to the zero mark as possible still.

    • admin says:

      Hi Michael,

      The general rule is that the more allowances you claim, the less withholding you’ll have taken out of your paycheck. By following the directions on the Personal Allowances Worksheet of your W-4, you will calculate the maximum amount that you can claim. However, you can always claim less than that to ensure that enough will be withheld from each paycheck. If you claim zero, you’ll have the maximum amount taken out. If you claim a larger number, you’ll have less taken out. The absolute ideal scenario is to have your tax liability (or refund) at the end of the year be as close to zero as possible.

  11. Teshawna says:

    Hi!

    I am single, my parents claimed me on taxes for 2013, I have one job, and I do NOT having any children. I landed a new position (with higher pay) January 2014 and decided to complete the W4 form. On the form, I entered $15 for the “Additional Amount Withheld” and 0 for the allowances. My question is if $15 being withheld every time I am paid?

    Thanks!

    • admin says:

      Hi Teshawna,

      By entering $15.00, that amount will be withheld from each paycheck. Keep in mind that you can update your W-4 at any time with your pay roll department and it will go into effect the pay period immediately following.

  12. CMM says:

    Hello.

    Divorced in November of 2014. Validating my W-4 with my Company. I am head of my household and have (2) children.

    Each tax year I get to claim 1 child as my dependent. Question is: What should be my total # of allowances i am claiming? 3 or 4? or should it just be 0?

    Also, should i include additional amount from paycheck? if so, what is the average for $70k/annually?

    • admin says:

      Hi CMM,

      The general rule is that the more allowances you claim, the less withholding you’ll have taken out of your paycheck. By following the directions on the Personal Allowances Worksheet of your W-4, you will calculate the maximum amount that you can claim. However, you can always claim less than that to ensure that enough will be withheld from each paycheck. If you claim zero, you’ll have the maximum amount taken out. If you claim a larger number, you’ll have less taken out. The absolute ideal scenario is to have your tax liability (or refund) at the end of the year be as close to zero as possible.

      I also suggest taking a look at the IRS Withholding Calculator. It only takes a few minutes to complete and will give you the most accurate amount of allowances to claim in order to reach that break-even point at the end of the tax year.

  13. Harrison says:

    I recently picked up a job and the guy who helped me had me file 2 was that the right thing. Im single one job

    • admin says:

      Hi Harrison,

      I would suggest updating it to one. Claiming two just means that less is withheld from each paycheck and your refund will be less at the end of the year (or you may owe the IRS).

      The general rule is that the more allowances you claim, the less withholding you’ll have taken out of your paycheck. By following the directions on the Personal Allowances Worksheet of your W-4, you will calculate the maximum amount that you can claim. However, you can always claim less than that to ensure that enough will be withheld from each paycheck. If you claim zero, you’ll have the maximum amount taken out. If you claim a larger number, you’ll have less taken out. The absolute ideal scenario is to have your tax liability (or refund) at the end of the year be as close to zero as possible.

  14. Paul says:

    Good morning,

    I’m currently married with two kids and I’m the only one working in my household. How many allowances should I claim?

    • admin says:

      Hi Paul,

      The general rule is that the more allowances you claim, the less withholding you’ll have taken out of your paycheck. By following the directions on the Personal Allowances Worksheet of your W-4, you will calculate the maximum amount that you can claim. However, you can always claim less than that to ensure that enough will be withheld from each paycheck. If you claim zero, you’ll have the maximum amount taken out. If you claim a larger number, you’ll have less taken out. The absolute ideal scenario is to have your tax liability (or refund) at the end of the year be as close to zero as possible.

      I also suggest taking a look at the IRS Withholding Calculator. It only takes a few minutes to complete and will give you the most accurate amount of allowances to claim in order to reach that break-even point at the end of the tax year.

  15. ND says:

    HI
    I curently have a part time job claiming 1 and a full time job claiming 2. I am married and no kids yet. Little bit confused, am i doing it right with the withholding numbers ? Please advise. Thanks.

    ND.

    • admin says:

      Hi ND,

      The general rule is that the more allowances you claim, the less withholding you’ll have taken out of your paycheck each pay period. By following the directions on the Personal Allowances Worksheet of your W-4 Form, you will calculate the maximum amount that you should claim. However, you can always claim less than that to ensure that enough will be withheld from each paycheck. If you claim zero, you’ll have the maximum amount withheld. If you claim a larger amount, you’ll have less withheld. The absolute ideal scenario is to have your tax liability (or refund) at the end of the year be as close to zero as possible.

  16. O.F says:

    Hi, I am really confused. I am college student with a little side job and my mom still claims me on her tax. However I have a son and I want to claim him on my form. what number should I put as my allowances? and he would count as my dependent right?

    • admin says:

      Hi O.F.,

      Unfortunately, since your mom is claiming you on her taxes, you are not able to claim your child on your own taxes. This would not coincide with the IRS’ guidelines for claiming a dependent. However, you do have several options.

      1. You can have your mom not claim you on her taxes and you file your own. This will then allow you to claim your son as a dependent.
      2. With your permission, your mom can claim you AND your son on her taxes.

  17. M.M.G says:

    Hi,

    My wife and I both have a full time job and a part-time job, I’m claiming 2 on my full time and 0 in my part time, my wife is claiming 1 on her part time and 1 on her full time. Is this the right way to do it? we afraid that we will have to pay large amount of money when doing our taxes, please help. Thank you.

    • admin says:

      I would suggest that you each claim one at your full-time and zero at your part-time, assuming that it is only you two in the family with no dependents.

  18. Diana says:

    Hey I really need your help, me and my husband got married in august, I am not a citizen yet, I am in the process of getting my green card through marriage,

    so I don’t work and my husband has 1 job

    but my husband owe taxes, around 600 dollars since 2012…. and he doesn’t know how to pay it off and wanted to get the amount that he needs to pay taken out of his taxes this year

    so in the W4 how many allowances ? We updated for 2… should we claim less? thank you so much

    • admin says:

      Hi Diana,

      I would suggest that he claims zero then. This will allow for the maximum amount to be withheld from each of his paychecks. With this option, he will have the highest refund (or smallest amount owed) possible.

  19. Jassidy says:

    I’m a single parent , 1 job, with 2 kids I’ll be claiming, what should I claim?

    • admin says:

      Hi Jassidy,

      The general rule is that the more allowances you claim, the less withholding you’ll have taken out of your paycheck each pay period. By following the directions on the Personal Allowances Worksheet of your W-4 Form, you will calculate the maximum amount that you should claim. However, you can always claim less than that to ensure that enough will be withheld from each paycheck. If you claim zero, you’ll have the maximum amount withheld. If you claim a larger amount, you’ll have less withheld. The absolute ideal scenario is to have your tax liability (or refund) at the end of the year be as close to zero as possible.

      In order to do this, I suggest taking a look at the IRS Withholding Calculator. It only takes a few minutes to complete and will give you the most accurate amount of allowances to claim in order to reach that break-even point at the end of the tax year.

  20. Joseph says:

    I didn’t know what I was doing when filled out the w4, I ended up choosing 2 allowances when I’m a single dependent with no kids. Should I have chosen 0? I’m guessing i’m going to owe the irs come tax time? I already sent the w4, is there a way I can change the allowance?

    • admin says:

      Hi Joseph,

      You can update your W-4 at any point and it should go into effect immediately. Keep in mind that updating the W-4 will not affect your withheld amount prior to the change. That being said, I would suggest claiming one or zero when filing as single with one source of income and no dependents.

  21. CMC says:

    Hello,

    My husband and I both work full-time and have no children. I just changed my W-4 form to allow 1 allowance today. Will this be okay? Should my husband do the same? I did this in 2013 but changed it back to 0 because I did not want to owe the IRS, but I could use the extra cash monthly since we have a house payment as of last summer.

    Thank you!

  22. DeeJay says:

    what happens if you get married and for some reason your w-4 didn’t get changed to “married” in the Taxable marital status spot…. I just noticed it. Will I get in trouble? They haven’t said anything yet and its been a few years. Does it effect the amount of tax that is being withheld? We claim 0.

    • admin says:

      Hi DeeJay,

      As long as you reported this change on your actual taxes, you won’t be in any sort of trouble with the IRS. The W-4 form is only to serve as an estimate of how much should be withheld from your income throughout the year. However, I do highly suggest updating this with your employer as soon as possible so that the correct amount of taxes are being withheld from your paychecks.

  23. PR says:

    Hi,

    I have 1 full-time job and 1 part-time job. My wife is currently working part-time. I have 2 allowances for full-time, 0 for part-time and my wife has 2 for her part-time job. Is this “correct”? Thanks!

    • admin says:

      Hi PR,

      The general rule is that the more allowances you claim, the less withholding you’ll have taken out of your paycheck each pay period. By following the instructions on the Personal Allowances Worksheet of your W-4 Form, you will calculate the maximum amount that you should claim (Keep in mind that this worksheet will not be given to your employer or the IRS). However, you can always claim less than that to ensure that enough will be withheld from each paycheck. If you claim zero, you’ll have the maximum amount withheld. If you claim a larger amount, you’ll have less withheld. The absolute ideal scenario is to have your tax liability or refund, at the end of the year, be as close to zero as possible.

  24. Kerby says:

    Hi so I tryna figure out what to claim ony W4 form I have two kids one of them I’m
    Paying child support and work live with my girlfriend we file separate but we alternate years we claiming our son on taxes but I would like to know what should I claim on my W4 form as dependent allowances not sure if choosing 0, 1 or 2 same time I don’t want to owe back nothing

    • admin says:

      Hi Kerby,

      The general rule is that the more allowances you claim, the less withholding you’ll have taken out of your paycheck each pay period. By following the instructions on the Personal Allowances Worksheet of your W-4 Form, you will calculate the maximum amount that you should claim (Keep in mind that this worksheet will not be given to your employer or the IRS). However, you can always claim less than that to ensure that enough will be withheld from each paycheck. If you claim zero, you’ll have the maximum amount withheld. If you claim a larger amount, you’ll have less withheld. The absolute ideal scenario is to have your tax liability (or refund) at the end of the year be as close to zero as possible.

  25. Crissy says:

    On my W-4, I have claimed three allowances but my pay check reveals “999” allowances. Therefore, no money has been withheld. Why does my pay check show “999??”

    • admin says:

      Hi Crissy,

      I strongly suggest checking with your pay roll department as soon as possible as there seems to be a mistake on their part. As long as this is updated in a timely fashion, there will not be much of a difference come tax time.

  26. Cathy says:

    I am single and working. I claimed a 1 on my allowance. I did not have any money deducted monthly. Do we need to do that?

    • admin says:

      Hi Cathy,

      It is possible that your income is not high enough to deduct taxes. However, I do suggest still checking your your pay roll department to make sure that a mistake was not made.

  27. Cynthia says:

    Hello,

    I just got married and need to update my w4 for my employer. I earn almost double what my husband earns bc my job is a full time job and his is a part time job. Not sure how many allowances we should put. Since he earn a lot less right now he put zero allowances. Should he leave it at zero and me put 2 allowances? or should we each put 1?

    • admin says:

      Hi Cynthia,

      I would suggest that you keep it as is with you claiming two and your husband claiming zero.

      The general rule is that the more allowances you claim, the less withholding you’ll have taken out of your paycheck each pay period. By following the instructions on the Personal Allowances Worksheet of your W-4 Form, you will calculate the maximum amount that you should claim (Keep in mind that this worksheet will not be given to your employer or the IRS). However, you can always claim less than that to ensure that enough will be withheld from each paycheck. If you claim zero, you’ll have the maximum amount withheld. If you claim a larger amount, you’ll have less withheld. The absolute ideal scenario is to have your tax liability or refund, at the end of the year, be as close to zero as possible.

  28. Ashlie says:

    Hi, I am single with two kids ages 5 and 2. I want to know how many allowances I should claim on my W-4. I want a decent paycheck but will also prefer a bigger refund, what should I do?

    • admin says:

      Hi Ashlie,
      Ages 5 and 2…You must be a busy mom! If you’re claiming both children on your tax return and head of household filing status, then claiming 4 allowances on your W-4 should give you the perfect balance between the size of your refund and your tax withheld. If you’re claiming both children on your tax return but do not qualify for head of household filing status, then you should claim 3 allowances on your W-4.

  29. Shawn says:

    Hi.. I am single with two foster children who has been in my home for over six months… This year I was able to claim them.. However I claimed two on my allowances. How should this have been handled. I’m confused…

    • admin says:

      Hi Shawn,
      Filling out a W-4 can be confusing. If you are claiming the two children on your tax return, then 2 allowances on your W-4 should mean you receive a tax refund when filing your taxes. If you would like less tax withheld from your paychecks, you can change this number to 3 (however, you should expect to receive a smaller refund). If you have any further questions, feel free to ask!

  30. Ray says:

    Hi I am single with one job no kids and nobody can claim me on their taxes. And on my w4 I claimed 2 allowances I work alot of overtime should I go back and claim 1 instead of 2? I just want it to where when I work overtime all of my money doesn’t get deducted.

    • admin says:

      Hi Ray,
      Filling out a W4 can seem confusing. The amount of taxes withheld from your paychecks and the size of your refund is dependent on the number of allowances you claim on your W4. I would suggest claiming 1 on your W4.

  31. Heather says:

    I currently have no federal tax being with held from my checks but still had to pay taxes back last year. My husband and and I file married joint. Should I only be claiming myself and let him claim our daughter since he is making 2$ more then me? Will this allow taxes to be taken out if I am only claiming myself?

    • admin says:

      Hello Heather,

      The first thing to keep in mind is that when you are filing a joint return, you and your spouse are considered one tax entity to the IRS. Therefore, you are responsible for his income reported while he is responsible for your income reported. Your AGIs are also the same when filing this way. That being said, you may want to update your W-4 form with your employer so that you are claiming less allowances. The more allowances that you claim, the less income will be withheld per paycheck. This will cause you to incur less of a refund after filing or, in your case, owe the IRS.

  32. Alina says:

    Hello:
    I work full time and my husband has Social Security due to disability and does not work. Do I withhold 2 or 1?

    • admin says:

      Hello Alina,

      Choosing how many allowances to claim on your W-4 can seem a bit tricky. The choice is up to you depending on your income, filing status, etc. If you Claiming two allowances will allow you to have a bit more of your income available to you throughout the year, however may result in you owing the IRS or having a slightly smaller refund after filing. On the other hand, if you claim one allowance, more of your income will be withheld from each paycheck while your refund may increase a bit.

  33. Ness says:

    Hi, I am a 20-year-old single mom and beginning a new job this upcoming weekend (and I’ve paperwork to fill out, including withholding forms). My parents did not — and will not, again, for this year — claim me on their taxes; they did, however, claim my son on their 2014 taxes, and may/may not claim him, again, for this year. What number should I claim?

    • admin says:

      Hi Ness,

      Claiming two allowances would be a safe route to take to ensure you won’t owe the IRS come tax season. If you feel you need more money throughout the year in each pay check, you can update your W-4 with your employer to claim more allowances. Depending on other credits and deductions that you will be reporting, claiming more than two allowances shouldn’t cause you to owe the IRS at the end of the year.

  34. Kimberly Clark says:

    Hello,
    I am married, with one child. Both my husband and I have full time jobs. Right now I claim 0 for state and 1 for federal. Should I change this or keep as is? I would like to get alittle more in my paycheck, but I don’t want to owe when it comes tax time.

    • admin says:

      Hi Kimberly,

      The ideal situation is to break even come tax time and not owe a huge amount to the IRS while still being able to see a bit more throughout the year as well. In your case, it looks like you’ll be able to claim the child tax credit which means that claiming two allowances instead of one would allow you to see more money each pay period while not having to dish over a hefty amount to the IRS at the end of the tax year. Just be sure to double check the child tax credit requirements!

  35. Ashley Walker Dillon says:

    I am single with a daughter i just recently got one job as i was filling out the w-4 form my child qualifies for child tax credit i am also the head of house hold no one claims me but i claim my child during tax time what should i put?? i was very confused so i put 4 just so i can hurry with the process and get the job but somehow after reading all these comments it looks as if i need to find a way to change my w-4 how do i go about that? should i have put 1 or 2,,, i dont want to owe irs

    • admin says:

      Hi Ashley,

      Congratulations on the new job! Since you are filing as head of household and claiming your daughter as a dependent, claiming four on your W4 was not a terrible decision. By claiming four (as opposed to one or two), you will be able to take home more of each paycheck throughout the year but possibly owe (or break even) come tax time.

      That being said, you can choose to update your W4 at anytime with your payroll department and it should go into effect immediately for the next pay period. Claiming one or two will allow for a larger refund at the end of the tax season with less to take home from each paycheck throughout the year.

  36. Anna says:

    Hi! I am married and have two kids. I currently only claim 1 for myself on my w4 and my husband does the same for himself. What should we claim to maximize our take home pay?

    Thanks,!

    • admin says:

      Hi Anna,

      The most financially beneficial thing to do would be for the spouse who earns the higher income to claim themselves and the dependent children while the other spouse claims one for themselves. This will allow for you both to bring home a bit more each pay period while owing little to nothing after filing for the year.

  37. Iulia Ivascu says:

    My employer send me P60 End of Year Certificate and my Final tax code is OT W1M1, that means I am not able to use Personal Allowance. What this means and why I do not have the right to decrease my taxes using a personal allowance?
    Kind Regards

    • admin says:

      Hi Lulia,

      According to your tax code, you are currently on a non-cumulative tax code program with your employer. This means that your tax is calculated on your earnings in one individual pay period. The alternative is having a cumulative tax code which indicates that your tax is calculated on a year-to-date basis. With your current tax code, it is typical to be paying more tax than necessary. The next step would be to speak with your payroll department about whether or not this is accurate and how to proceed.

  38. Marc says:

    Hello,

    I am starting a new job after being with my former employer for 10 years, so I am going through the W4 process. My wife and I have been married 4 years. She had twins from a previous marriage, and she claims them on her taxes. Up until I got married I always claimed 0 allowances. Now that I am married should I just claim 1 on my W4 and make sure my wife is claiming 3?

    I work full time and she works part time.

    Any help would be great,

    Thank You

    • admin says:

      Hi Marc,

      Congratulations on the new job! The W4 process can seem confusing after so many years and a few lifestyle changes. If you are filing a joint tax return, I would suggest that the spouse with the higher income claim the majority of allowances. This just tends to be more financially beneficial. You can also split the allowances so that you are both claiming two. When filing a joint tax return, one thing to keep in mind is that you and your spouse are identified as one tax entity.

  39. Maya says:

    Hi,
    Me and my husband work full-time jobs and have one child 7 years old.
    What number of allowances should each of us claim?

    • admin says:

      Hello Maya,

      If you are planning on filing a joint return, I suggest that the spouse with the higher income claim 2 allowances while the spouse with the lower income claim 1 allowance. By claiming this amount, you will ensure that enough is being withheld from each paycheck throughout the year so that you won’t owe the IRS a large amount come tax time (or even increase you refund amount). Also be sure to look into whether or not you qualify for the Child Tax Credit when filing your tax return.

  40. Evette says:

    Hello,

    My husband and I both claim 0 on our W4. My husband is retired and works a part time job. I am retiring this year and would like to know how I should fill out my W4 for my retirement. We pay dearly each year claiming 0 on our W4. I would like to add some allowances in order to make more throughout the year, but due to us already paying each year, I am apprehensive. Please advise.

    • admin says:

      Hi Evette,

      Claiming zero allowances throughout the year on both W-4 forms should allow for a refund. If you would like to see more money in each paycheck, you can claim a higher amount of allowances. Being as you typically owe the IRS come tax time, you should double check that you both are claiming ‘married’ on your W-4 form because this will also allow for a bit more each paycheck along with claiming more allowances.

      I would also suggest filing a joint tax return with your spouse and looking into any deductions that you can claim throughout the year to report on your tax return.

  41. Sam says:

    Hi,

    We are having a lot of life changes, including going from two full incomes to one so I can be the stay at home parent to our two children after we move. In the previous jobs, we both claimed “0”, but with the mid-year move and going to only one income, how many deductions do you recommend to maximize our take home pay without having to pay out next year?

    Thanks.

    • admin says:

      Hi Sam,

      Congratulations on the move!

      Seeing as you both claimed zero allowances on your W-4 forms, I can assume that you received a refund (or owed a small amount to the IRS) since you had the maximum amount withheld from your paychecks throughout the year. In order to bring a bit more of his paycheck home, I suggest that your husband update his W-4 form to claim three allowances. This should still allow for an adequate amount to be withheld to cover what you would owe in taxes over the year while still seeing a bit more take-home pay from his checks.

  42. Eve says:

    Hello,

    I have a position where I am paid a large 20K+ bonus a few times a year. I’ve heard it is common to adjust your W-4 for paychecks during the time when that bonus is paid to a higher withholding amount. Someone suggested I claim 5 allowances. I am married, my husband is not currently working, and I have an additional family member as my dependent; however, I do not intend to claim 5 throughout the year as I will surely owe the IRS at the end of the year.

    I only plan to claim 5 for one or two paychecks when my bonus comes in and then adjust back.

    Can you shed some light on how this works, what I can expect if I do claim 5 and what that might look like at the end of the year?

    Thank you!

    • admin says:

      Hi Eve,

      Congratulations on the bonus!

      When it comes to updating your W-4 form, you can do so as often as necessary. That being said, updating your W-4 form for 1-2 paychecks per year will not drastically impact your refund or tax due when you file. Let’s use your situation as an example: Let’s assume that you are currently claiming 3 allowances and you choose to update that to 5 allowances, you should see more money in your paycheck this coming pay period because less is being withheld. Once you adjust your W-4 form back to 3 allowances again, your paycheck will reflect that in the following pay period and allow less take-home-pay since more is being withheld to cover taxes.

      In other words, the more allowances you claim, the more money you receive throughout the year (in your paychecks) and the less you will see in a possible refund from the IRS after filing your taxes.

      Also keep in mind that you will be able to claim those dependents mentioned when filing your tax return. This will help to lower the tax due (or increase your refund) also.

  43. Doug says:

    First year after divorce… thought I should adjust my withholdings to reflect that I won’t owe tax on the portion of my income that goes to spousal support. I adjusted my allowances from 1 to 3, expecting it to lower the taxes they are withholding. The following paycheck, they withheld MORE tax…not less.

    Now I’m confused…

    • admin says:

      Hello Doug,

      You had the right idea to update your W-4 form. Claiming more allowances will typically cause less to be withheld from your paycheck. However, after a divorce, you updated your filing status to single as well. This change will also affect how much money is withheld from your paychecks. With a single filing status, more is withheld than if you were to have a married filing status.

      To avoid a hefty tax bill this year, I suggest claiming one allowance with a single filing status. If you are planning on claiming any dependents when you file your taxes, add one allowance for each.

  44. Tony says:

    Hello,

    This is my first time filing out a W-4 Form. I am single. I’m 24 years old. I have no kids-no dependents. My single mom didn’t file me as dependent on her Taxes. I still live at home with my mom. This is my first part-time job while going to school full-time.

    I don’t want to pay all my taxes at the end of the year. I rather have the government take money out of my paycheck every month then pay a huge tax amount at the end of the year. I’m not sure how much refund I should receive since this is my first W-4. What allowances should I write in box 5 on my W-4? What should I put down in box 7 on my W-4? 1? 0?

    • admin says:

      Hi Tony,

      When completing a W-4 form, you want to make sure that you are allowing enough taxes to be withheld throughout the year so that you won’t end up owing the IRS a huge chunk of money in the long run. The way to do this is to claim as little allowances as your financial situation will allow. Based on what you’ve stated above, you’re best bet is to claim zero or one allowance. If you claim zero, this will allow for the maximum amount to be withheld from each paycheck. This will most likely result in a refund for you come tax time. If you choose to claim one allowance, you will see a bit more in each paycheck but will still have a sufficient amount being withheld. This may result in a smaller refund for you.

      I don’t suggest claiming anymore than two allowances as that may cause you to owe the IRS after filing.

      Good luck with school and the new job!

  45. Belle says:

    Hi,

    I’m married, file jointly, we both work one full time job, no kids. what do i put? M1? M0? We want to have refunds at tax time

    • admin says:

      Hi Belle,

      Since you would like to receive a refund after filing, I would recommend claiming the lowest amount of allowances possible. If you claim zero with a married filing status, you will have the maximum amount being withheld from your paychecks throughout the year. A refund will be issued if too much is withheld for taxes. For most people, zero allowances results in a refund.

      Now, if you feel that you are not receiving enough money in your paychecks, you can always adjust your W-4 form to one allowance. This will allow for a bit less to be withheld but you will still have a substantial amount allotted for taxes.

  46. Eric says:

    Hello,
    I recently divorced and have 2 children who live with my ex wife. I do keep them with me a minimum 2 nights a week every week. I changed my filing status to
    Single and 1 dependent for myself, however since I’m paying a lot of child support, I would like to claim 2 more allowances on my W4 to get more from my checks. As for the filing of my tax return, I would not claim them, she would. Just wondering if I can safely add 2 more allowances on my W4, one for each child, for withholding purposes throughout the year.

    • admin says:

      Hello Eric,

      Child support can be a hefty expense so it’s understandable why you would want less tax withheld from your paychecks. It is 100% up to you if you would like to update your W-4 form to add more allowances. However, keep in mind that if too little is withheld from your paychecks throughout the year, you may be faced with an amount due for taxes when you file. You won’t be faced with any penalties or fees, though as long as you pay your tax bill on time.

  47. JIMMY says:

    I am single. I’m 23 years old. I have only one dependent which is my little sister, 11. I do not want too much money withhold from my weekly checks and still want to receive a decent refund. what number should i put for allowance on my W-4?

    Thanks,

    • admin says:

      Hi Jimmy,

      If you are sure that your sister is a qualifying dependent and that you will be claiming her on your tax return, then you should claim two allowances on your W-4 form. This should allow for enough tax to be withheld so that you don’t owe the IRS after filing your tax return.

  48. Krissy says:

    I’ve always claimed zero before, but I’ve claimed my sister the last two years (and will keep doing so in the future) on my taxes. Is claiming 2 on my w4 ok? Or will it make me owe a lot?

    • admin says:

      Hi Krissy,

      If you are sure that your sister is a qualifying dependent and you will be claiming her on your tax return then claiming two allowances would be your ideal decision- one for her and one for yourself.

  49. Jose says:

    hello, I have one seasonal job, my parents claim me in their taxes, how many allowances should I claim on my W-4?

    • admin says:

      Hi Jose,

      Seeing as your parents will be claiming you on their taxes, I suggest claiming zero allowances on your W-4. If you are required to file a tax return, this should allow for you to see a small refund from the IRS.

  50. Kisha says:

    Hi, I’m single, one job, and a kid. I used the w-4 assistant and it said I have 6 allowances. How many allowances should I actually claim. Please help!

    • admin says:

      Hi Kisha,

      One thing to keep in mind is that the IRS withholding allowance tool and the instructions right on the W-4 itself will help you calculate the maximum amount of allowances you could claim on your W-4. This calculation is not the amount that will ensure you do not owe money to the IRS. Based on your situation explained above, I suggest claiming two or three allowances. You should claim three allowances if you are filing as head of household. This will allow you to see a bit more in each paycheck while also having the IRS withhold a sufficient amount to cover taxes.

  51. Matthew says:

    Hi, I’m married. Me and my wife both work full time. I make more than her. She has 1 daughter (12years old). My wifes allowances is set to 2 and mine is 0. Should I change mine to 1?

    • admin says:

      Hi Matthew,

      If your financial situation allows you to comfortably claim zero allowances with enough take-home-pay from each paycheck, then I would suggest sticking with zero allowances. This will most likely result in a refund after filing your tax return for the year. If you want to see a bit more in each paycheck throughout the year, claiming one allowance won’t cause you to owe the IRS an insane amount come tax time. Generally, it will just be less of a refund issued.

  52. Trinath says:

    Hi,
    I am single,one job,international student,my W4 shows federal as 3 allowances and state as 3 allownace ? Is there any mistake in my W4.please suggest me.

    • admin says:

      Hi Trinath,

      With one job and a single filing status, you may want to claim zero or one allowance so that you don’t end up owing the IRS after filing your tax return.

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