W-4 Form: Extra Withholding, Exemptions, and Other Things Workers Need to Know

Getting familiar with the IRS Form W-4 is a good idea if you're starting a new job, want to boost your tax refund or don't want to make estimated tax payments.

pen laying on a W-4 form
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The W-4 form is used by new employees to provide their employer with the information needed to determine how much income tax should be withheld from their wages. That's the basic purpose of the W-4 form. And while simple in principle, it's important to get your paycheck withholding correct. Otherwise, you may be in for a big surprise when you file your next tax return.

But the IRS's W-4 form can be used for other reasons, too. For instance, if you have a side hustle and don't want to be bothered with estimated tax payments, then you can sign up for extra withholding using the W-4 form. Ditto if you receive other non-wage income during the year. You can also use the W-4 form to tweak the next year's tax refund.

When filling out a W-4 form, you'll be asked to include things like your expected filing status, family income from other jobs, number of dependents, and tax deductions you plan to claim. (Some employers offer electronic versions of the form.) Once your employer has the necessary information, the company will take it from there and do the necessary calculations. But to help make sure you get it right, here are 10 things every worker needs to know about the W-4 form. Take a look so you can tackle your next W-4 form with confidence.

Rocky Mengle

Rocky Mengle was a Senior Tax Editor for Kiplinger from October 2018 to January 2023 with more than 20 years of experience covering federal and state tax developments. Before coming to Kiplinger, Rocky worked for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting, and Kleinrock Publishing, where he provided breaking news and guidance for CPAs, tax attorneys, and other tax professionals. He has also been quoted as an expert by USA Today, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Reuters, Accounting Today, and other media outlets. Rocky holds a law degree from the University of Connecticut and a B.A. in History from Salisbury University.

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