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Form W-4 (2021)
Future Developments For the latest information about developments related to Form W-4, such as legislation enacted after it was published, go to www.irs.gov/W4App
Purpose of Form Complete Form W-4 so that your
employer can withhold the correct federal income tax from your pay. If too
little is withheld, you will generally owe tax when you file your tax return
and may owe a penalty. If too much is withheld, you will generally be due a
refund. Complete a new Form W-4 when changes to your personal or financial
situation would change the entries on the form. For more information on
withholding and when you must furnish a new Form W-4, see Pub. 505.
Exemption from withholding. You may claim exemption
from withholding for 2021 if you meet both of the following conditions: you had
no federal income tax liability in 2020 and you expect to have no
federal income tax liability in 2020. You had no federal income tax liability
in 2019 if (1) your total tax on line 16 on your 2019 Form 1040 or 1040-SR is
zero (or less than the sum of lines 18a, 18b, and 18c), or (2) you were not
required to file a return because your income was below the filing threshold
for your correct filing status. If you claim exemption, you will have no income
tax withheld from your paycheck and may owe taxes and penalties when you file
your 2020 tax return. To claim exemption from withholding, certify that you
meet both of the conditions above by writing “Exempt” on Form W-4 in the space
below Step 4(c). Then, complete Steps 1a, 1b, and 5. Do not complete any other
steps. You will need to submit a new Form W-4 by February 16, 2021.
Your privacy. If you prefer to limit information
provided in Steps 2 through 4, use the online estimator, which will also
As an alternative to the estimator: if you have concerns
with Step 2(c), you may choose Step 2(b); if you have concerns with Step 4(a),
you may enter an additional amount you want withheld per pay period in Step
4(c). If this is the only job in your household, you may instead check the box
in Step 2(c), which will increase your withholding and significantly reduce
your paycheck (often by thousands of dollars over the year).
When to use the estimator. Consider using the
estimator at www.irs.gov/W4App if you:
1. Expect to work only part of the year;
2. Have dividend or capital gain income, or are subject to
additional taxes, such as the additional Medicare tax;
3. Have self-employment income (see below); or
4. Prefer the most accurate withholding for multiple job
Self-employment. Generally, you will owe both income
and self-employment taxes on any self-employment income you receive separate
from the wages you receive as an employee. If you want to pay these taxes
through withholding from your wages, use the estimator at www.irs.gov/W4App to
figure the amount to have withheld.
Nonresident alien. If you’re a nonresident alien, see
Notice 1392, Supplemental Form W-4 Instructions for Nonresident Aliens, before
completing this form.
Step 1(c). Check your anticipated filing status. This
will determine the standard deduction and tax rates used to compute your
Step 2. Use this step if you (1) have more than one
job at the same time, or (2) are married filing jointly and you and your spouse
Option (a) most accurately calculates the additional
tax you need to have withheld, while option (b) does so with a little
If you (and your spouse) have a total of only two jobs, you
may instead check the box in option (c). The box must also be checked on
the Form W-4 for the other job. If the box is checked, the standard deduction
and tax brackets will be cut in half for each job to calculate withholding.
This option is roughly accurate for jobs with similar pay; otherwise, more tax
than necessary may be withheld, and this extra amount will be larger the
greater the difference in pay is between the two jobs.
Multiple jobs. Complete Steps 3 through 4(b) on only
one Form W-4. Withholding will be most accurate if you do this on the Form W-4
for the highest paying job.
Step 3. Step 3 of Form W-4 provides instructions for
determining the amount of the child tax credit and the credit for other
dependents that you may be able to claim when you file your tax return. To
qualify for the child tax credit, the child must be under age 17 as of December
31, must be your dependent who generally lives with you for more than half the
year, and must have the required social security number. You may be able to
claim a credit for other dependents for whom a child tax credit can’t be
claimed, such as an older child or a qualifying relative. For additional
eligibility requirements for these credits, see Pub. 972, Child Tax Credit and
Credit for Other Dependents. You can also include other tax credits in
this step, such as education tax credits and the foreign tax credit. To do so,
add an estimate of the amount for the year to your credits for dependents and
enter the total amount in Step 3. Including these credits will increase your
paycheck and reduce the amount of any refund you may receive when you file your
Step 4 (optional).
Step 4(a). Enter in this step the total of your other
estimated income for the year, if any. You shouldn’t include income from any
jobs or self-employment. If you complete Step 4(a), you likely won’t have to
make estimated tax payments for that income. If you prefer to pay estimated tax
rather than having tax on other income withheld from your paycheck, see Form
1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals.
Step 4(b). Enter in this step the amount from the
Deductions Worksheet, line 5, if you expect to claim deductions other than the
basic standard deduction on your 2021 tax return and want to reduce your
withholding to account for these deductions. This includes both itemized
deductions and other deductions such as for student loan interest and IRAs.
Step 4(c). Enter in this step any additional tax you
want withheld from your pay each pay period, including any amounts from
the Multiple Jobs Worksheet, line 4. Entering an amount here will reduce your
paycheck and will either increase your refund or reduce any amount of tax that
▶ Does your name match the name on your social security card? If not, to ensure you get credit for your earnings, contact SSA at 800-772-1213 or go to www.ssa.gov
Complete Steps 2–4 ONLY if they apply to you; otherwise, skip to Step 5. See page 2 for more information on each step, who can claim exemption from withholding, when to use the online estimator, and privacy.
Complete this step if you (1) hold more than one job at a time, or (2) are married filing jointly and your spouse also works. The correct amount of withholding depends on income earned from all of these jobs.
Do only one of the following.
(a) Use the estimator at www.irs.gov/W4App for most accurate withholding for this step (and Steps 3-4); or
(b) Use the Multiple Jobs Worksheet on page 3 and enter the result in Step 4(c) below for roughly accurate withholding; or
Complete Steps 3-4(b) on the Form W-4 for only ONE of these jobs. Leave those steps blank for the other jobs. (Your withholding will be most accurate if you complete Steps 3-4(b) on the Form W-4 for the highest paying job.)
If your income will be $200,000 or less ($400,000 or less if married filing jointly):
(a) Other income (not from jobs). If you want tax withheld for other income you expect this year that won't have withholding, enter the amount of other income here. This may include interest, dividends, and retirement income.
(b) Deductions. If you expect to claim deductions other than the standard deduction and want to reduce your withholding, use the Deductions Worksheet on page 3 and enter the result here.
(c) Extra withholding. Enter any additional tax you want withheld each pay period.
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