W4 Form Tax Withholding

adjust your paycheck withholding

So what does W-4 mean?

  • A waffle 4-pack?
  • A brand of washing machines?
  • A herd of four warthogs?
  • A place to enter your dependents on a tax return?

Actually, it is none of those things! It is most likely that the "W" in W4 or W-4 stands for "withhold" or "withholding" (to take out), but we do not know what the "4" means or why it is there in the first place! Find out why the W-4 is designed so complicated?

What Is a W-4 Form?

The W-4 is a form that you complete and give to your employer (not the IRS) for federal tax and the equivalent form for state tax withholding. The W-4 communicates to your employer(s) how much federal and/or state tax you - and your spouse if s/he works - wish to have withheld from each paycheck in a pay period. Depending on what you enter on your W-4(s), it could affect how big of a tax refund might be due for the given tax year or how much tax you will owe when you file your tax return(s) by Tax Day.

W-4 Tax Withholding

Pick one of four free W-4 tools, calculators and from creators.

The right amount or balanced amount of tax withholding per pay period for the tax year keeps you from paying all your taxes at once when you file your income tax return or ITR. Too much tax withholding will result in a tax refund - some argue it's a form of financially self-imposed penalty. The trick is to balance your withholding and thus your taxes so you don't owe nor get too big of a tax refund.

Important: We highly recommend you review your W-4 in December or January of each year. Did you know that in 2021, over 129 million tax returns resulted in tax refunds in the amount of over $366 billion dollars? Tax refunds are generally not "free" IRS or government money, but are often too much of individual taxpayer's money being handed over to the IRS as a result of too much paycheck tax withholding as a result of insufficient W-4 form planning. Reap what you sow: get started sowing with proper W-4 tax withholding planning. We view most taxpayer's tax return refunds a self-inflicted financial penalty or wound by the taxpayer: keep more of your money with each paycheck.

Free Online W-4 Creators

We at eFile.com understand the Form W-4 can be confusing and overwhelming. We have developed four tools to help taxpayers complete a W-4 online without being a Tax Geek or having extensive tax knowledge. Did you recently take on a new job and are being asked to submit a W-4 to your employer?

When you complete your new 2023 W-4 Form here on eFile.com, you have four options to do so: let our Taxometer pick the most fitting W-4 Calculator for you. Not factoring in your tax return goals when completing a W-4 form is like driving a car mostly through the rear-view mirror.

If you are familiar with all these nerdy types of explanations and are ready to get to the bottom line, start here and now:

To see how your tax withholding went during the year, prepare your tax return on eFile.com. Start free and report all your tax information - income, deductions - and let us handle the tax calculations for you. Are you owed a refund? Withhold less next year if you do not expect significate changes to your tax situation. Owe taxes? Withhold more to get closer to being tax balanced next year.

W-4 Questions, Answers, Myths, and Facts

Find common tax questions below accompanied by details answering them. Get a better understanding of how to withhold money from your paycheck each month and try to be as tax balanced as possible. Then, prepare your taxes with eFile.com and see how well your withholding practice worked out.

W-4 Question
Why to File a W-4?
A W-4 is used to balance taxes on your tax return.
As a wage earner, you determine the amount of money you ask your employer to take out or withhold from each paycheck or pay period as taxes or tax withholding with the W-4 Form. This amount is an important factor on whether you will owe taxes or get a tax refund when you e-File your next tax return.
When to file a W-4 with a new or existing employer?
File this form when starting a new wage earning job or anytime you want to balance your taxes.
1. As soon as you start a new wage earning job, you will have to submit this form to your employer, not IRS. 
2. Submit or resubmit anytime you want to balance your taxes due to life changing events. Use the Taxometer and pick a tax balance goal for your next tax return. If you were faced with hardship that affected you financially during 2022, you may want to adjust your withholding in 2023 so you can keep more of your money each paycheck.
How to calculate or estimate the amount of taxes to withhold with each paycheck?
To get an accurate estimate, you will need to estimate your 2022 or 2023 Tax Return. Simply estimate your income, dependents, tax deductions, and tax credits for 2023 when estimating the 2023 Tax Return. Based on these results, adjust your paycheck withholding - up or down - for the pay periods in 2023. The new W-4 Forms no longer have allowances. Instead, you simply provide amounts to increase or decrease by.
It's about how much of your hard earned money you will get to keep in 2023 and not get back again in 2024 as a tax refund. If you receive a tax refund in 2023 for your 2022 Tax Return, you likely had withheld too much. A refund in 2023 would mean you gave your money to the IRS during 2022 through too much paycheck tax withholding just to get it back in 2023. Wouldn't you want to keep this now and be balanced in 2023? No refund, no taxes owed in 2024.
Taxable Income, Withholding
How to complete a W4 between now and the end of 2023.
Start one of our four free W-4 tools or contact us - we have a free, pragmatic workaround for you. No complicated worksheets and no guessing.
Example: Your 2022 Tax Return showed a $1,200 refund and your 2022 income and deduction situation is not changing. Take a look at your last paycheck, take the tax withholding amount, and decrease your withholding by $200 (monthly pay period) or $100 (bi-weekly pay period) between the remaining months of May through December 31. As a result, you should get a smaller refund in 2023 and not owe taxes, but increase your paycheck per pay period. Do the reverse if you owed taxes on your 2022 Tax Return.
How to get a paycheck workout?
Start the free eFile.com Taxometer.
This tool will ask simple questions to help you figure out your tax strategy.
Tip: Keep your hard earned money. Don't give it interest free to the IRS and/or state only to get it back as a tax refund with your next tax return by Tax Day. Simply input your taxable income, dependents, tax deductions, and tax credits for 2023 and you can estimate your 2023 Tax Return now.
Don't Penalize yourself with a Tax Refund!
Don't do what too many hard working taxpayers do. This self imposed penalty could cost you up to 18% of your income a year. Yes, it's self imposed by wrong financial tax payer planning - not eFile.com nor the IRS. Learn more about self imposed penalties.
How to fill out your W-4?
Use our Free W-4 Creator Tools! Or, click here for the old fashioned PDF form if you don't want to use any of the tools: Form-W-4.The W-4 is your planning tool to manage your tax withholding and you submit the form to your employer and not the IRS.
1. Complete, sign, and download the W-4 now online here on eFile.com based on these W-4 four tools.
2. Mail, email, or hand it over to your employer(s), not the IRS or state agency. Coordinate this effort with your spouse if you are filing as married filing jointly on your next tax return.
3. Identify the State(s) to change your state tax withholding form(s) and download the appropriate tax withholding form(s) by state. Follow the same tax balancing strategy as you do for the IRS.
2023 W-4 Form: Release date January 1 of each year.
Click to view the current W-4 Form. You will notice on the new W-4 Form that the concept of allowances to control your paycheck IRS tax withholding has been eliminated since 2020. Use the eFile.com PAYucator to calculate your IRS Tax Withholding Amount for your paycheck. Plus, you can use the W-4 TAXometer to estimate your next return based on your personal tax return goals. We will make it easy for you not only to calculate the amount, but also complete the new W-4 Form. Simply sign up here to TaxPlan, TaxWin and TaxPlay.

Understand Your Tax Refund

The tax refund you may receive at the end of a tax year is not free money. When you receive a check or your direct deposited refund, you are receiving money that was rightfully yours to begin with. Optimize your withholding using our free W-4 calculators and keep more of your paycheck each pay period. Use that extra money to pay off any debts instead of relying on a big check in April.

Try these simple calculators to estimate your taxes with up-to-date information. These figures will be reported when you file your tax return on eFile.com. The eFile Tax App will report your situation on your return based on your answers to straightforward tax questions.

Find additional resources on eFile.com below. Get a better understanding of your personal tax situation before you get your taxes done with eFile.com.