How to Fill Out a W-4

Tax time comes but once a year, but new jobs can be found at any point throughout the year. Whenever a new job position is accepted the tax form that is usually required is the W-4. Though it seems like a straight-forward process to fill the form out completely, there are few items on the form that are easier to fill out when one understands them better.

Therefore, an explanation of what the various items on the W-4 are and how to fill them out are as follows. Use this as a guide in order to be better prepared when filling out the all important tax form for an employer. If a mistake is made, an employer may allow a new form to be submitted. However, it is easier to keep track of tax records by doing it right the first time.

Look It Over

The first thing to do is to look the form over carefully. Do this before starting to fill out any information to become familiar with what is being asked. Then, check it again before turning it in to make sure all of the answers given are correct and in the correct places. Also, the employer may or may not provide instructions for how to fill it out. Some employers assume a person already knows how. if no instructions are provided, they can be found on the IRS website. Take the form home to complete it so that the instructions can be carefully read before filling it out.

The Worksheet

The IRS provides a worksheet for calculating the expenses and exemptions and even a calculating tool on their website. It seems to be tricky hard to understand, but the website provides step by step instructions on both how to use the sheet and how to fill out the actual W-4. The questions being asked are according to the current tax year only and allows a person to have a small say in how much of the check is withheld each payday for taxes.

One thing to remember when calculating expenses, though, is that married couples filing jointly should calculate their withholding allowances together and then divide that between the two of them. Figuring total allowances for dividing can be done using the worksheet. However, remember that a couple cannot claim the same sets of allowances.

The Easy Part

The easy part, of course, is filling in the blanks that require personal information such as first name and last name. This is followed by requests for a social security number, address information, and marital status. Line 5 simply asks for the number of allowances listed on letter H to be brought down. Whatever number listed on line H is also put on line 5. Next, list any additional amount to be withheld from the paycheck, if any. This is is generally only done if a person expects to owe taxes at the end of the year instead of receiving a refund. Writing exempt in line 7 should only be done if the qualifications described next to it are met. Last, sign your name and then write the name, address, and EIN (the tax I.D number) of the employer in the appropriate blanks if it is not already provided.

Other Things to Consider

A non-resident alien will have to follow a different set of instructions when filling out the W-4. These special instructions can be found on the IRS website.

Figuring withholdings may be different if a person has more than one job or if married and not filing jointly.