form W4 how to fill

Form W-4: How to Fill It Out and Why It Matters

Table of Contents


Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Review by 
Hoang Tran
Ms. Frances Dang is a visionary CPA, Partner at XOATAX, and a Tax Expert for many high-net-worth clients and corporations. She specializes in both minimizing tax liabilities and driving sustainable growth. Over 7 years of dedicated service, Ms. Frances has provided personalized planning for high-net-worth clients including business owners, investors, and entrepreneurs spanning manufacturing, e-commerce, biotechnology, fintech, services, and non-profit sectors. 
Kevin Zhang renowned CPA and Tax Expert with over 15 years working in tax planning and financial optimization for individuals and large businesses. He excels in analytical abilities and innovative problem-solving, identifying tax minimization opportunities, and providing strategic recommendations to leadership teams.
Hoang Tran  is an accomplished CPA and financial advisor with over 8 years of experience. He specializes in providing tailored financial solutions, tax optimization, and strategic guidance to individuals and businesses. With a client-centric philosophy and a commitment to continuous learning, Hoang has earned a reputation as a trusted expert in personalized financial strategy. His expertise has helped businesses across diverse industries, including manufacturing, import & export, and wholesale & distribution, achieve their financial success.

Key Takeaways

  • You don’t need to fill out your form W-4 every year.
  • You only need to fill it out to your employer when you first get the job or adjust the withholding amount.
  • Major events such as divorce, marriage, new dependents, or side gigs, can trigger a change in tax liability. Should update form W-4 if you have any changes on your filing status.

form W4 how to fill

What is form W-4

An employee uses Form W-4, also known as “Employee’s Withholding Certificate”, to tell their employer how much tax to withhold from their paychecks. The employee fills out and gives this form to their employer when they start a new job or change their withholding amount. This way, the employer can withhold the right amount of tax from the employee’s income throughout the year.

When do you need to fill out your W-4?

You don’t need to fill out your W-4 annually, this form should be filled and given to your employer at the start of your job or you want to adjust the withholding amount. Just make sure to use the most recent W-4 form on the IRS site or let us do it for you.

You should fill out and submit your W-4 form to your employer when you start your job or change your withholding amount. Just make sure you use the latest W-4 form from the IRS website, or let us help.

But remember to check the tax withholding amount at least once a year. The IRS has a tool for this Tax Withholding Estimator (available in both English and Spanish). Major events such as divorce, marriage, new dependents, or side gigs, can trigger a change in tax liability.

What has changed in 2023 form W-4?

There are only minor changes in the 2023 W-4 form compared to the 2022 one. The main differences are that the form no longer refers to the IRS withholding estimator, the deductions worksheet has been updated, and more information has been added to the Multiple Jobs section. You can still use the IRS withholding estimator online to check if you need to make any adjustments to your W-4.

form W4 how to fill

How to fill W-4 form

Step 1 Fill out your personal info.

Form W4 Step 1

Fill in name, address, Social Security number, and your Mailing address.

Step 2 Multiple Jobs or Spouse Works.

Form W4 Step 2

This step is ONLY needed when you have a second job or both you and your spouse work, combine your income, deductions, and credits, all on ONE tax return with the same tax rate.

The form will present you with 3 options, you can only fill in one. Here’s what you need to do:

  • For the job that pays you the most, complete steps 2 to 4(b) on your W-4 form. These steps will help you adjust your withholding based on your income, deductions, and credits.
  • For any other jobs you have, skip steps 2 to 4(b) on your W-4 forms. You don’t need to repeat them for each job.
  • However, there is one exception: if you and your spouse have two jobs in total, and you both earn about the same amount, you can check box 2(c) on both of your W-4 forms. This will simplify the calculation and ensure the right amount of tax is withheld from both of your incomes.

But what if you don’t want your employer to know that you have another job or another source of income? What if you have some side gigs or investments that bring in extra cash? Don’t worry, we have a solution for that too:

  • You can choose to have an additional amount of tax withheld from your paycheck by entering it on line 4(c) of your W-4 form. This way, you can cover the tax liability from your other income without revealing it to your employer.
  • You can opt to pay the tax on your other income yourself by making estimated tax payments to the IRS throughout the year. This way, you can avoid any surprises or penalties when you file your tax return.
  • Or talk to our tax expert to help you with the process.

Step 3 Claim Dependent and Other Credits

Form W4 Step 3

For families with MAGI greater than the amounts eligible for the increased credit, the phaseout of the credit begins with $200,000 in income ($400,000 for married filing jointly) and the credit amount is $2,000 for all children under 18 at the end of the tax year.

If you want to increase your tax withholding from your paycheck to lower your tax liability, you can opt out of claiming dependents even if you have them.

Step 4 Other Adjustments (Optional)

Form W4 Step 4

This step is completely optional, you can indicate if you want more tax withheld from your paychecks, or if you plan to claim other deductions besides the standard one on your tax return.

Step 5: Sign and date your W-4

Form W4 Step 5

After you sign the form, submit it to your employer’s payroll or human resources department. You might also have the option to complete it online through your employer’s payroll system.

How to Avoid Over-Withholding When You Start a Job Mid-Year

Ask your employer to use the part-year method for your withholding if you start a job in the middle of the year and work for less than 245 days in the year. The regular withholding formula is based on full-year employment, and you’ll end up with too much withheld and have to wait until tax time to get the money back. You can check form W-4 on the IRS official website.

What is the difference between form W-4 and form W-2?

The W-4 instructs the employer how much to take out of the employee’s pay for taxes. The W-2 reports the employee’s income and tax withholding for the past year to the IRS and States. Every employee must fill out a W-4 at least once with their employer.

Secure your tax journey with our experts!


Blog - Meet Our Team - Banner CTA 2

Maximize Deductions
with Experts


Subscribe to Our Blog.

Stay up-to-date with the latest accounting tips and industrial news


Subscribe to Our Blog.

Stay up-to-date with the latest accounting tips and industrial news


Call Now

Do you wish to continue with the call?

Please provide your phone number and we will contact you within 2 hours

You have successfully submitted your phone number

.printfriendly { text-align: right; margin-bottom: 20px; } #printfriendly-text2{ background: transparent; border: 1px solid #2abc63; padding: 12px 20px; } .printfriendly a{ background: transparent; border: 1px solid #2abc63; padding: 12px 20px; }
Table of Contents