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When tax season comes around, you don't have to be surprised when you meet with an accountant or do your taxes yourself. When you use our IRS withholding calculator, you'll have a good idea of your return or what you still owe.

Saving your W-2 as well as receipts for certain transactions will make filling out tax forms easier. You should also keep all tax-related documents organized.

Below are answers to frequently asked questions people have about their W4 withholdings and how many allowances to claim.


Why use an IRS withholding calculator?

This calculator is intended for users to check on what they pay in taxes and what is withheld.

The IRS recommends checking on your withholding at the beginning of each year or when circumstances change, such as having a child or changing jobs.

In particular, with changes to the tax laws, it's important for taxpayers to check on their withholding this year. This is more important for two-income households that itemized their deductions in previous years.

With changes to what can be deducted and how much, this calculator can help you decide the amount you need to withhold.

In some cases, you may find that you're having too much of your taxes withheld. Instead of waiting for a refund from Uncle Sam, you can reduce your withholding to increase your take-home pay.

You can use that added money in your paycheck to increase your retirement savings.

In reference to the calculator, the IRS says, "Checking your withholding can help protect against having too little tax withheld and facing an unexpected tax bill or penalty at tax time next year."

And there's nothing worse than owing money to the IRS when you file your taxes.

Is this calculator accurate?

The short answer is yes, but it comes with caveats. Our withholding calculator is accurate to a point. This does not mean that the results are what you need to report.

Problems can arise due to user error or omission of local and state taxes. It may also be off if you do not include certain deductions.

The calculator will provide you with enough information to help you prepare for filing taxes or to adjust your withholding before the end of the fiscal year.

It is, however, based on estimates, so it is not 100% accurate and cannot be used when filling out your 1040 before the April 15 deadline.

Even the IRS suggests checking the process more than once a year. If you make adjustments to your withholding, it's a good idea to run the calculations again after a few months to check that everything is correct.

What do I do after checking my withholdings?

If you've checked your withholding online and want make some changes, it's easy adjust it. This requires a trip to payroll or human resources to fill out a new W-4.

If you're a single-income filer, you may not have to do anything about your withholding.

You may find that it's a minor difference that isn't worth changing on your W-4. Or you may enjoy seeing a larger refund check after filing your taxes.

For the self-employed, this will require making adjustments to quarterly tax payments. If you believe that you've underpaid in previous quarters, you can add the difference to later quarters in the year.

And if you've overpaid earlier in the year, you can reduce the payments in other quarters to even out the taxes before filing after the end of the year.

Will this calculator prepare me for tax filing season?

Checking with an IRS withholding calculator is just one step in preparing for tax filing season. There's much more that you need to do throughout the year to relieve the stress before April 15.

Being prepared with the correct payroll taxes will save you from worrying about whether you owe the government more money. It also gives you a little extra in each paycheck throughout the year.

You can find out how changes to your withholding will affect your take-home pay with our free calculator. We offer more information about what your potential deduction is so you can make multiple changes to your payroll filings.

How do you know how many allowances to claim?

To more accurately use the calculator, you should understand how many allowances to claim.

The number of allowances depends on each tax filer. If you don't need the money right away and would prefer a bigger tax refund, you can claim just one allowance for yourself on your W-4.

The more allowances you claim, the less in taxes that are taken out of each paycheck. When determining what number to use, consider your filing status, the number of jobs you have, and whether you have dependents.

In other words, a single person with one job will claim fewer allowances than a married filer with children. Below are a few more examples.

Zero Allowances

People who claim zero allowances are claimed as a dependent by other tax filers.

One Allowance

Having one allowance is normal for single filers with only one job.

Two Allowances

If you have two jobs, you can claim one allowance at each or two at one and zero at the other.

Three Allowances +

A filer who is married with a child would normally claim three allowances. It is possible to claim an additional allowance for each additional dependent child in the family.

There are more options for dual-income households filing jointly. You can review the IRS Personal Allowance Worksheet to decide the number of allowances for your situation.

What federal taxes are withheld?

You may wonder why federal taxes are withheld and the kinds of taxes that are deducted from your paycheck. These are items that are taken out of every paycheck in the U.S.

Your pay stub should be itemized and indicate how much is deducted for taxes. Federal income taxes are based on your earnings and the number of allowances you indicate on your W-4.

Additionally, 6.2% of your gross pay (after tax-exempt deductions) goes to Social Security. Another 1.45% is paid to Medicare. Neither of these taxes are affected by the number of allowances you take.

To get a better idea of how much you'll pay in withholding taxes and the number of allowances you should take, check out our tax withholding calculator.

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