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When to Update a W-4

Savvy ATM: The Basics of the W-4

A W-4 is the form that tells your employer how much they should withhold in taxes. If you've ever found yourself just staring at the form not sure what to make of it, you're not alone! Those forms can be slightly frustrating, but the basic thing you should remember is that the more allowances you claim on your W-4, the less income tax will be withheld and vice versa. So, if I claim one and you claim two, more taxes will be withheld from my paycheck than yours.

You should review your W-4 each year after you've completed your tax return, and you can make adjustments to have more or less income tax withheld. The form gives some guidance as to what exemptions you should select, but this IRS Withholding Calculator is a helpful tool.

Your W-4 may be outdated if your life has taken a new direction in any of the following ways. To find out what they are

  • You went to a wedding where you were the bride.
  • You went through labor.
  • You bought or sold your pad.
  • You switched jobs or stopped working.
  • You started writing checks for college tuition.
  • You've been paying big medical bills.


Join The Conversation
princessjaslew princessjaslew 9 years
i claim 0. taxes are confusing enough as it is. knowing that i might owe money at the end of the day just gives me the jitters.
enSue enSue 9 years
I claim 0 -- something I learned from my husband. He prefers to get money back, while we both prefer preventing ever having to owe money. Although, I wouldn't mind arranging it so we break even, or get barely any back.
Liss1 Liss1 9 years
I claim 0 also. I like getting money back and i would never want to owe money, i am always scared of that!
azucar_ame azucar_ame 9 years
Gosh I HATE TAX TIME...Arrrrgggggghhhhh! Being and grown up sucks sometimes!! !azúcar! Ame
Entertainment Entertainment 9 years
I usually do the same thing as Yum, for the same reasons. This year, though, I actually tried claiming 1. I'm curious to see if I owe or if I still get something back. (I hope I get something back, or at least break even)
Leilanic1 Leilanic1 9 years
parrothead where is this quiz? i want to take it. i too am never quite sure what to put. i usually put one but now that i'm married what do i put. i'm put married and single with claiming 1...
Food Food 9 years
I always claim 0, it's not the smartest, but I like them taking taxes out so that I can a refund later. I know I could take that money and put it someplace where it could gain interest, but I worry about spending it, and then not having enough to pay taxes. I'd rather get a refund later.
parrotthead parrotthead 9 years
Just took the quiz and got some really interesting information; including how I could adjust my withholdings to manipulate whether I got a refund or not.
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
le sigh - this form frustrates me sometimes. i was used to claiming the same amount all the time on my W-4 and then when i moved to Florida where they don't have state tax, i should have thought about it and claimed differently because i ended up owing money....
SkinnyMarie SkinnyMarie 9 years
I always claim a 1 or a 0. I think usually 1. Ugh my last hell of a job put me down as a 2. I didn't know until I went to do my taxes and I freaked out. Luckily it was the same week I handed in my notice. They read my w-4 wrong.
steen steen 9 years
Getting married is confusing as far as taxes go. Where do I put a 0? Where do I put a 1? How do I do this without having to pay a lot of money come tax time? Thankfully, one of my mother-in-law's cousins is an accountant so he's going to help us to make sure we don't wind up owing but man, it's so confusing!
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