In Virginia, the Withholding Form VA-4 is crucial in determining how much state income tax will be withheld from your earnings.
Knowing how to complete Form VA-4 accurately lets your employer withhold the right amount of money for income taxes, allowing you to manage your finances better, avoid penalties, and optimize your paycheck.
What is Virginia Form VA-4?
Virginia Form VA-4, Personal Exemption Worksheet is a state tax form provided by the Virginia Department of Taxation that allows employees to elect how much tax is withheld from their paycheck. It includes two parts:
- Personal Exemption Worksheet, which you keep for your records
- Employee’s Virginia Income Tax Withholding Exemption Certificate, which you must fill out and send to your employer
The Virginia Form VA-4 is effectively the state-level equivalent of the federal IRS Form W-4. However, the two forms fulfill different purposes. If you live in Virginia or work for a Virginia employer, you will likely need to complete both. If you are looking for guidance on how to complete the IRS Form W-4, please check out our Form W-4 guide.
Do I Need to Fill Out a VA-4?
Any individual subjected to Virginia income tax withholding must complete a Form VA-4 with your employer when employment begins. That includes full-time residents of the state, part-time residents for portions of the year they live in Virginia, and non-residents receiving income from a Virginia source.
Filling out a Form VA-4 accurately lets you calculate the number of withholding exemptions you are entitled to and claim as many as you need. Claiming as many exemptions as possible increases your take-home paycheck. You can also choose to claim as few as possible, reducing your take-home pay but increasing your chances of receiving a state tax refund.
Benefits of Filling Out VA-4
- Accurate withholding: By accurately completing the VA-4, you help ensure that the correct amount of tax is withheld from your paychecks. This can help to prevent underpayment or overpayment of taxes.
- Avoid penalties: Ensuring the correct amount of tax is withheld can help you avoid potential penalties and interest associated with underpayment of taxes.
- Better budgeting: Knowing that your withholding is accurate can help with budgeting because you will have a better idea of what your take-home pay will be after taxes.
How Long Does This Benefit Last?
The benefits of filling out VA-4 last as long as your personal or financial circumstances remain the same.
However, if there are changes to your financial situation, such as a change in marital status, the birth of a child, or a significant change in income, update your VA-4 to ensure the correct withholding amount.
How VA-4 Affects the Tax Return
- Refunds or balances due: The amount withheld according to the VA-4 affects whether you will receive a refund or owe money when you file your Virginia state tax return.
- Tax planning: By accurately completing the VA-4, you can have better control over your tax situation and can engage in more effective tax planning.
- Documentation: The information on the VA-4 can be important documentation if there are any questions or issues that arise with your state tax return.
What if I Don’t Fill Out a VA-4?
Your employer must withhold Virginia income taxes from your paycheck even if you fail to complete and submit the Form. In that case, your employer will withhold as if you claimed zero exemptions.
Should You Claim Yourself on a VA-4?
According to the Form VA-4 instructions, you can always claim one exemption for yourself, regardless of your marital status, number of children, or personal situation.
How to Fill Out Virginia Personal Exemption Worksheet
A withholding exemption is a defined unit of tax deduction. Claiming an exemption reduces your tax liability and increases the amount on your paycheck.
However, it is critical not to claim more exemptions than you are legally entitled to. Claiming too many exemptions poses the risk of under-withholding: withholding too little money for Virginia income tax. Under-withholding exposes you to potential penalties, interest, and an audit by the state’s taxation authorities.
Potential penalties for under-withholding include late payment penalties, assessed at a rate of 6% of the unpaid amount per month with unpaid taxes, up to a maximum of 30%. Interest is calculated using the federal underpayment rate + 2% extension penalty when applicable. Check the Virginia Department of Taxation website for more details on penalties and interest rates.
Follow this step-by-step guide to fill out your Form VA-4’s Personal Exemption Worksheet accurately and claim the correct amount of exemptions.
Line 1: Exemption for Yourself
Enter 1 to claim one exemption for yourself. You may also choose to enter 0 to reduce the number of claimed exemptions and increase the chances of receiving a tax refund. You can also enter 0 if you are married and your spouse claims you on their VA-4.
Line 2: Exemption for your Spouse
If you are married and your spouse has not claimed themselves on their own VA-4 (they must have entered 0 on their Line 1), you may claim them on yours. Enter 1 on Line 2 if you do.
Line 3: Exemptions for your Dependents
Line 3 allows you to claim one exemption for each of your dependents. Virginia generally follows the federal definition of a dependent. You can claim one dependent for each qualifying child and non-child relative. However, you may not consider your spouse a dependent.
Count the number of qualifying dependents you have. You can claim a maximum of 1 exemption for each one.
Line 4: Subtotal Personal Exemptions
Add the numbers entered in Lines 1, 2, and 3, and enter the result here.
Line 5: Exemptions for Age
You may claim one extra exemption if you will be 65 or older on January 1 of the current tax year. Enter 1 on Line 5(a) to claim it.
If you have claimed an exemption for your spouse and they will be 65 or older on January 1 of the current tax year, you may claim an extra exemption on Line 5(b).
Line 6: Exemptions for Blindness
If you are legally blind, you may claim an extra exemption by entering 1 on Line 6(a).
If you have claimed an exemption for your spouse and they are legally blind, you may claim another exemption by entering 1 on Line 6(b).
Line 7: Subtotal Exemptions for Age and Blindness
Add the numbers entered in Lines 5(a), 5(b), 6(a), and 6(b), then enter the result here.
Line 8: Total Withholding Exemptions
Add the numbers entered in Lines 4 and 7. The result is the total number of exemptions you will be claiming. Enter the result on this line.
How to Fill Out Employee’s Virginia Income Tax Withholding Exemption Certificate
The Exemption Certificate is the part of your Form VA-4 you must submit to your employer. It contains your personal information and your withholding preferences.
You must fill in the following details:
- Your Social Security Number (SSN)
- Your complete legal name
- Your street address
- Your city, state, and ZIP code
Line 1: Enter the Number of Exemptions
You must complete Lines 1(a), 1(b), and 1(c) if you are subject to Virginia income tax withholding in the state of Virginia. You are subject to withholding if:
- You are a resident of Virginia, whether full-time or part-time
- You are an out-of-state resident receiving income from a Virginia source, such as an employer in the state.
According to the form’s instructions, you are NOT subject to Virginia withholding if:
- You had no Virginia income tax liability last tax year and don’t expect to have any this tax year.
- Your Virginia adjusted gross income (AGI) is less than $11,950 if single, $23,900 if married and filing jointly, or $11,950 if married and filing separately.
- You live in Kentucky or the District of Columbia and commute daily to your place of employment in Virginia.
- You are a legal resident of Maryland, West Virginia, or Pennsylvania, your only sources of Virginia income are salaries and wages, and these salaries and wages are subject to income tax in your state of residence.
If you are not subject to Virginia withholding, leave Lines 1(a), 1(b), 1(c), and 2 blank. Otherwise, follow these steps to fill them in:
- Line 1(a): Personal Exemptions
Copy the value you entered on Line 4 of your Personal Exemption Worksheet here.
- Line 1(b): Exemptions for Age and Blindness
Check the value on Line 7 of your Personal Exemption Worksheet and write it here.
- Line 1(c): Total Exemptions
Enter the same value you wrote on Line 8 of your Personal Exemption Worksheet.
Line 2: Additional Withholding
You can request additional money withheld from your paycheck on this line. Enter a dollar amount in the larger field and a number of cents in the smaller field (e.g., 99 in the first and 50 in the second to withhold $99.50).
You must have your employer’s approval to withhold additional tax. The amount you enter will be withheld from each paycheck. For instance, if you are paid monthly, the amount entered will be withheld from your monthly pay.
Line 3: Exempt From Withholding
If you are not subject to Virginia withholding due to the conditions listed in the instructions, check the corresponding box. You must ensure Lines 1(a), 1(b), 1(c), and 2 are blank.
Line 4: Servicemember Civil Relief Act
If you are not subject to Virginia withholding due to the Servicemember Civil Relief Act (SCRA) as amended by the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act, you may check this box.
You may qualify for this exemption if you meet all of the following criteria:
- Your spouse is an active-duty member of the Armed Forces
- Your spouse is present in Virginia in compliance with military orders
- You are solely in Virginia to be with your spouse
- Your primary domicile is in another state
If you qualify for this exemption, check the box and include a copy of your spousal military identification card when submitting your Form VA-4 to your employer.
Sign and Date
Sign the form in the bottom-left corner and write the completion date in the bottom-right.
Here are the answers to some common questions about filling out form VA-4.
An exemption from the federal form W-4 does not necessarily exempt you from state income tax withholding. Follow the instructions to fill out your VA-4 normally.
Check the instructions and determine whether you qualify for an exemption due to your state of residence. If you are exempt, leave Lines 1(a), 1(b), 1(c), and 2 blank, and check the box on Line 3. Otherwise, fill out the form as normal.
If your spouse is in the Armed Forces and is in Virginia on military orders, you may qualify for a Servicemember Civil Relief Act exemption. Leave Lines 1(a), 1(b), 1(c), and 2 blank, check the box on Line 4, and include a copy of your spousal military identification card with your Form VA-4.
If you claim 0 exemptions, your employer will withhold the maximum amount of taxes from your paycheck. It can reduce your take-home pay but increase the chances of receiving a Virginia tax refund.
There is no maximum number of exemptions on a VA-4. However, you must not claim more than you are legally allowed to receive. Doing so exposes you to potential penalties and a tax audit.
Yes. Your employer is required to withhold taxes even without a Form VA-4. If you do not submit one, you will be treated as if you claimed 0 exemptions.