How many allowances should I claim on my W4

how many allowances should i claim on my w4

There are some recent changes with the tax form today and this can be overwhelming. You may be confused on what to do with your Form W4 and how many allowances should you claim. The number of allowances you can claim depends on your situation and it could also significantly affect the size of your paycheck. This has been removed though.  Form completion nowadays has been more efficient.

If you are unsure on what to do next after your employer handed you this new tax form, you are on the right page. Employees should be aware of any tax benefits they are entitled to in order to avoid any complications along the way. This will also make it easier for them to pay their federal taxes. Let’s look at how the W-4 form works and how many allowances you can claim in more detail. (Btw, a W4 is different from a W2).

What is a W-4 Allowance Form?

A W-4 allowance form is the form that the employer will ask you to fill out when you get hired. This includes information on how many allowances you should claim for each pay period. It is also crucial that you complete this form accurately, as any errors will have a substantial impact on your tax bill. 

If there are any changes in your financial situation in 2020, you have to fill out a new W-4 allowance form. Less tax is withheld from your paycheck if you claim more allowances. However, lesser allowances also implies a significant withholding amount. 

Understanding The W-4 Form

What is Tax Withholding?

Majorities of employees in the United States are required for tax withholding. Tax withholding refers to the amount of federal tax withheld from your paycheck. It depends on the information you have provided via form and how much you have earned. These withholdings are commonly known as trust fund taxes.

Your total earnings in a year and your filing status determine the amount withheld from each of your paychecks. You will receive a refund when there’s too much money withheld from your paycheck. On the other hand, if there has been insufficient money withheld, more taxes will be due. In the worst-case scenario, an employee could face disciplinary action.

What Has Changed?

To make the entire withholding process easier and more accurate, the ISR reduces the W-4 complexity. This whole innovative idea leaves out any complication, confusion to the employees, and helps you determine which allowances you are eligible with. This also ensures accuracy. 

How Many Allowances Should You Claim?

When filling out the W-4 form, it is highly significant that you should know how much allowances you should claim. There are also several factors that you have to consider including marriage, your new job, and even the birth of a child. 

If you noticed, allowances are significantly related to your standard deductions. The best example for this case is a married couple. They usually have higher expenses. Thus, they should claim a much higher allowance. Let’s take a closer look at these some of the best example situations and the number of allowances they may claim. 


You can claim 1 allowance if you are single and have one job. Another option is two requests for 2 allowances. However, this might result in some tax due if you are not cautious enough. In another scenario, if you have two jobs and are single, you can claim 2 allowances in  your first job and 0 at your second or vice versa. 

Single With One Child/Two Children

If you are single with one dependent, you can claim 2 allowances. On the other hand, if you are single with two children and one job, you can claim more than 2 allowances. You can actually request an allowance for each dependent you have. However, you are limited to 0 allowance if someone already listed you as their dependent on their tax return. 


If you are the only earner in the family, you will claim 0 allowance. You will owe the IRS some money if both of you have an income and reach the 25% tax bracket. You may also claim 0 allowance, but have an extra amount withheld. These choices are all accessible on the W-4 form.

Married With 1 Kid/2 Kids

You may claim up to three allowances if you are married with one child. If you have two kids, you are allowed to claim three or more allowances since they are under W-4 exemptions. It usually depends on the number of dependents you have in the household. 

Adjusting Your W-4 Allowances

If there are changes in your personal or financial situation, you are allowed to adjust your W-4 form. Such situations include getting a new job, if you already have a child, or if you start making money through your second job. 

You will have to submit a new W-4 form if there’s any reduction in your withholding. This comes with a lower withholding allowances within 10 days of adjustment. In general, you have to update and submit a new W-4 form for every change in your personal and financial situations. 

The Importance of Withholding Allowances

You cannot exempt yourself from withholding if you are an employee. The amount withheld from your salary is determined by the number of allowances you can claim. Less tax implies you can claim more allowance and vice versa.

Allowances significantly affect withholding. This also determines how much you owe the IRS. This is because the complete amount of federal income tax withheld from your wages during the year is deducted from the overall tax. 

Steps For Claiming Withholding Allowances

  • Step 1. It is essential that you provide accurate details to your employer when filing out the W-4 form. Thus, you have to know your filing status. Aside from providing correct information, this will also help you determine the tax rates as well as the basic reductions. 
  • Step 2. Fill in a separate form if you have more than one job. For married couples, fill out a separate column if both of you are working. 
  • Step 3. You should know how to calculate the amount of credits from your child tax as well as for your other dependents. 

Employees should always pay attention to their withholdings. It is crucial to be fully informed especially if you are looking forward to the incoming tax season. Make an adjustment with your allowances on your W-4 form if you are not satisfied enough with your refund. 

Allowance Strategies

Getting your total tax due withheld for the year is one of the most effective approaches in order for you to determine how many allowances you can claim. You may get a much higher refund if you also have an enormous amount of money withheld. On the other hand, if you have too little withheld you’ll have to come with whatever is due. 

Employer Responsibilities

On behalf of all of your employees, you are required to withhold and remit the income taxes from your workers’ paychecks. One of the biggest responsibilities of an employer is to collect state W-4 and federal forms from their workers when they start working with you. 

If an employee wants to change their federal income tax withholdings and currently uses a pre-2020 federal Form W-4, an employer should require an updated form for W-4. An outdated form is highly discouraged. As an employer, you are required to put your workers’ newest information after they have provided you with their update withholding form. You are also expected to use the form for the state. 

how to read w2

How to Read a W2

Reading a W2 can be easy. Just remember to know which wage item belongs in which box of the W2 form. You can also check the legend.

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