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How to Fill Out a W-4, W4 Form?

Taxercise Your
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W-4s Now!

Throughout each tax year, especially at the beginning, we encourage taxpayers to review and adjust their W-4 form(s) for each of their jobs. W-4 forms directly impact a taxpayer's tax return refund or amount of taxes owed. Use the Taxometer as it picks the right W-4 tool for you.

This has become even more important for tax refund recipients as the IRS - not eFile.com - delayed tax return processing in 2021 and thus delayed many taxpayer refund payments. Learn more about the IRS 2021 and expected 2022 refund delays.

Did you know? A large tax refund is a self-inflicted financial penalty!

Unfortunately, the W-4 form is now more complicated for taxpayers to determine the correct tax withholding amount in the context of their current tax year return, due next year. We at eFile.com have spent considerable time developing tools to help taxpayers through this. Why is the W-4 form so difficult?

Taxometer: Tax Balance Goals, Steps to Take

Below are simple to follow considerations when planning your W-4 or tax withholding amounts for your 2021 and/or 2022 W-4 Form(s). Follow these steps so you meet your 2021 Tax Return goals in 2022 and take control of your tax withholding.

  • Step 1: Did you file a 2020 Tax Return in 2021? If so, review this return now and adjust your W-4 accordingly. If you e-Filed through eFile.com, your return is stored under My Account - sign in here. If you did not file via eFile.com or don't have a copy of your tax return, you can order a transcript or copy of your latest tax return.
  • Step 2: Decide on your next year tax return goals:
    • If you received a 2020 Tax Refund in 2021, select the goal. Balance your next tax return by adjusting your tax withholding per paycheck during 2021 or during 2022 for your 2022 Tax Return.
    • If you owed taxes with your 2020 Tax Return, do you wish to decrease your 2021 Taxes due in 2022?
    • Read these frequently asked W-4 questions and answers.
  • Step 3: Use the Taxometer tool below for the best W-4 calculator.
  • Contact a eFile.com Taxpert to discuss your next tax return strategy.
adjust your paycheck withholding
Taxometer: Picks the right W-4 Calculator for you

W-4 Taxometer Guide

Start the W-4 Taxometer

W-4 Form Tools, Calculators

Select one of the four W-4 tool options below, or  use the Taxometer Guide above to pick one or multiple W-4 tools based on your experience, expectation, or current job situations. Keep in mind, if you (and your spouse) have more than 2 simultaneous jobs now, complete a separate W-4 for each job. W-4 forms are submitted to the employer not the IRS. When done, each of the eFile.com W-4 tools allows you to email the completed, signed form to yourself and/or your employer.

As a result of the Child Tax Credit increase during tax year 2021 more tax returns might show a tax return refund even if the form W-4 based paycheck tax withholding amount is low or even zero. Follow these guidelines and chart when and how to adjust a W-4 and when a tax refund is the result of free and when not free IRS refund money.

W-4
Filing Status
Number of Jobs, Available Data
What is a free IRS Tax Refund?
If your paycheck default IRS Tax Withholding amount is zero as the result of your W-4 but your expected tax refund is larger than zero, you can consider that a free IRS tax refund, as you did not pay IRS income taxes.
For example, as the result of your filing status, your income and your number of dependents your per paycheck IRS tax withholding might be zero, but your 2021 tax return could result in an IRS tax refund worth multiple thousands of dollars. This is most likely the result of the Child Tax Credit. View this chart for more details on when you should or can no longer reduce your IRS tax withholding Tax Withholding compared to Tax Refund Chart
This is the simplest online W-4 tool; use this for any filing status (Single, Head of Household, Married) with 1 simultaneous job (you and/or your spouse each have one job at the given time). The total number of jobs for the year is not relevant. This tool does not lean on your previous tax return or future income estimates.
  • If you have one job or one source of W-2 income (you or your spouse) at any given time, the W-4 Basic is for you.
  • If you are very experienced with the W-4 and know all the ins and outs, use the W-4 Basic.
  • Simply answer the questions with help instructions and enter the data needed. Sign the form and the W-4 will be emailed to you. You can also enter the employer's email address and have the form W-4 emailed to them.
  • Monitor the tax withholding on your next paycheck and make W-4 corrections or adjustments as needed.
The W-4 Adjust let's you adjust or plan your current W-4 based on your last year's tax return results. You manage next year's tax refund or taxes owed now and create your W-4. This tool incorporates sound financial tax planning goals. 
  • Plan your current year based on your last IRS tax return. 
  • Follow the steps listed on the W-4 Adjust and enter data from your previous year return.
  • The W-4 Adjust tool will let you adjust your tax withholding before you sign and create your W-4 for the current tax year. You will actually know the calculated withholding amount.
Create a form W-4 based on your actual and/or adjusted per pay period paycheck. Even though the design of the form W-4 does not enable a taxpayer to enter a fixed IRS tax withholding dollar amount, the W-4-Check calculator is created to let you do just that. Enter a few paycheck related amounts or adjusted amounts until your IRS tax withholding amount meets your expectations. Then, simply click Create W-4 and you are done. Continue to monitor the tax withholding amount of your subsequent paychecks and make necessary adjustment via the W-4-Check tool. Start the W-4-Check tool now.
  • Have an existing paycheck from your current job at hand or re-create your paycheck for a new job based on your income.
  • Make paycheck adjustments and reflect them on your new W-4 via the W-4-Check tool.
  • Contact an eFile.com Taxpert® if you have any questions. 
The W-4 Pro tool looks at your future income, deductions, etc. and estimated tax return results. If your income and other tax figures are similar to the previous year, use the W-4 Adjust tool. The Pro tool creates a tax return for you and will then create a W-4 based on your tax return goals. For example, for Tax Year 2022, you would use the 2022 Tax Return Estimator to optimize your W-4. Keep in mind that you can also use the 1040-ES to pay estimated taxes throughout the year if you have additional, non wage or W-2 income, such as self-employment income.
  • Estimate your 2022 Income based on your paychecks for the year or our free PAYucator tool - the eFile.com paycheck calculator - before you complete the W-4 for one or more jobs.
  • If you and/or your spouse expect many wage-based jobs and have other income sources, estimate your 2021 Tax Return before you complete the W-4 for each job.

In summary, we at eFile.com recognize the complexity of the design of the W-4 form and we are here to assist you at every level. We consider the W-4 Form an important part of your financial and tax return planning.

Plan Your Withholding Now

If there is a lesson learned from the 2021 Tax Season, it is this: many taxpayers have experienced IRS related tax return processing delays in 2021 - not eFile.com delays. As a result, these delays have held up tax refund payments for too many taxpayers, some who waited seven or more months for their 2020 refunds. Thus, W-4 planning is important as taxpayers create their own tax return refunds if they withhold too much in taxes per pay period.

Manage or reduce your tax withholding now via the W-4 and keep your money in the present and throughout the current year. When you do not withhold an optimal amount, you are handing over too much of your own money in your tax withholding to the IRS only to get that same money back again next year via your tax refund.

We sympathize with you: If you think that completing a W-4 Form is worse than a dental root canal procedure, we totally get IT! Unfortunately, we do not do root canals and can only help you with the W-4 forms.

Start and click on one of the W-4 tools above as you can always change your mind and use another tool.

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