When starting a job, each new employee must fill out a W-4 to determine the amount of taxes that will be withheld from each paycheck by an employer. Major changes were made to the W-4 in 2020 to, as the IRS said, reduce the form’s complexity and increase the transparency and accuracy of the payroll withholding system.
If you haven’t changed jobs or don’t have a reason to update your W-4, you won’t need to fill one out again. However, if you’re starting a new job or need to update your withholding information because your relationship or filing status has changed, you will need to complete a new W-4. Having incorrect information on a W-4 may lead to incurring tax debt and having to seek tax resolution services.
Learn more about the updated W-4 and find out how to fill it out if you’re single in 2022.
What is a W-4?
A W-4 is a form that allows your employer to know how much to withhold from your payment for federal income tax. While it’s not necessary, completing this form at least once a year is recommended to ensure your withholdings are up to date each time your financial situation changes.
Example: Jack starts a new job at an accounting firm and is given a W-4 to fill out so the company can properly withhold his federal taxes. If Jack does not fill out a W-4, his taxes may be withheld incorrectly, and he may owe money at tax time or have too much withheld from his paycheck.
What is a Tax Withholding?
A tax withholding is a way the government collects taxes as the money is earned instead of in a lump sum at the end of the year. An employer withholds money from each paycheck to pay for your taxes. At the end of the year, you will file your taxes, and if you filled out the W-4 correctly, you do not owe any more in taxes.
Example: Fred is single and makes $60,000 yearly or roughly $2,307 biweekly. To ensure that he pays all of the $8,817 in taxes he will owe that year ($4,807 plus 22% over $41,775), his employer must withhold $339 from each paycheck.
How to Fill Out a W-4 if Single: With a Job or Multiple Jobs
As someone single, you must complete step 1 of a W-4 and mark the box labeled “single” in section (c). The rest of the form will depend on the number of jobs you work.
If you are single with one job, skip step 2 and go to step 3 of the W-4. Step 3 will depend on your number of dependents. Follow directions based on your number of dependents and move to step 4.
Step 4 is where you record any additional income not from jobs, any deductions you are trying to claim, or any additional income you wish to withhold, such as dividends. The final step is to sign the document to make it legally binding.
Example: Mark is single and working one job with no dependents. He provides his personal information in step 1, skips steps 2-3, and only claims a standard deduction in step 4.
If you have two jobs, you will be required to complete step 2, unlike those with only one job. Step 2 has multiple ways to calculate how much you should withhold; it is up to you which you will use.
The first option is the estimator on the IRS website. The second option is an attached worksheet below the form. The final option is a check box that should only be used if both of your jobs have similar pay.
Make sure to file W-4s for both jobs, but only do steps 3-4 for the highest-paying job.
Example: Sarah is single and works two jobs with similar pay. She fills out all of her information in step 1 and then, in step 2, marks the box for line (c), indicating two jobs. She then only fills out steps 3-4 on her higher-paying job of the two.
How to Fill Out the Multiple Jobs Worksheet if Single with 2 Jobs
If you choose to skip step 2 on the W-4 because you don’t want one job to know about your second one or if you want a more accurate withholding amount, fill out the Multiple Jobs Worksheet on page 3 of the W-4. This will not be given to your employer and is only for your information.
- For line 1, use the chart on page 4 to find the amount of the combination of your two jobs.
- Skip line 2.
- On line 3, enter how often you are paid in a year for the higher paying job (monthly is 12, biweekly is 26).
- On line 4, divide the amount on line 1 by the number on line 3. Enter the amount both here and on step 4c of the W-4.
Example: Brenden has two jobs, one paying $38,000 and one paying $26,000. He uses the chart to find that the amount for line 1 is $2,990. He then skips step 2 and writes 26 for line 3, as he is paid biweekly. On line 4, he writes $115 since that is the annual amount divided by the number of payments.
If you are working three or more jobs, it will be similar to working two jobs without the third option in step 2. You will have to use the IRS website or the form’s worksheet. When filling out steps 3-4, only do so on the W-4 for your highest-paying job. For part-time jobs, the federal withholding for taxes remains the same as for full-time jobs.
Example: Marie is single and works three jobs. She fills out all of her personal information in Step 1, and in Step 2, she will enter the withholding amount in Step 4(c) after using the Multiple Jobs Worksheet (information below).
How to Fill Out the Multiple Jobs Worksheet if Single with 3 Jobs
You may choose to skip step 2 on the W-4 if you don’t want one job to know about the other. Fill out the Multiple Jobs Worksheet on page 3 of the W-4 to accurately calculate your withholding.
- Skip line 1 and go to line 2.
- On line 2a. First, go to the chart Single or Married Filing separately on page 4 of the W-4. Find the corresponding row in the Higher Paying Job column using the annual income for your highest-paying job. Then, taking your second highest paying job salary, find the column in the Lower Paying Job Annual Taxable Wage & Salary. Put the corresponding value in line 2a.
- On line 2b. You’ll need to add the annual income for your two highest-paying jobs. Using the same method as line 2a, you’ll use this as the number for the “Higher paying Job” column and use the annual income from your third and lowest paying job in the “Lower Paying Job row. Enter the corresponding amount in line 2c.
- Line 3. Use the highest-paying job for line 3 when determining how frequently you are paid.
- On line 4, divide the number on line 2(c) by the number on line 3 to find the amount you should enter on step 4(c) of the W-4.
Example: Jeff works three jobs paying $32,000, $20,000, and $15,000 per year. He uses the multiple jobs worksheet to determine how much extra he should withhold, starting with line 2 since he does not use line 1. He takes his highest paying job: $32,000. In the Higher Paying Job column, he finds the row: $30,000- 39,999. Using his second highest paying job, he finds row $20,000-$29,999. The corresponding value will be $2,990, which he’ll add in line 2a.
For line 2b, he’ll add $32,000 to $20,000 to get $52,000. Using that value, he’ll find the row $40,000 – 59,999 in the Higher Paying Job column. Then, he’ll move across to the $10,000- 19,999 to account for his lowest-paying job. That will result in $3,510, entered in line 2b.
The final result for line 2c is $6,500, which is the sum of lines 2a and 2b. He is paid biweekly at his highest-paying job, so he enters 26 on line 3. Dividing $6,500 by 26, Jeff will enter $250 on line 4 and have that much extra withheld from his highest-paying job every pay period. Jeff will enter $250 onto his W-4 in Step 4(c).
How to Fill Out W-4 if Single: With Dependent(s)
If you are single with dependents, there is a section for you to claim deductions based on the number of dependents. The more dependents you have, the higher the deduction will be, but the amount differs for dependents age 17 and below and other dependents. For those under 17, you will receive $2,000 for each child. For children 18 and over, or an adult dependent, you can receive $500.
You may also receive a Head of Household deduction if you are unmarried and pay more than half of the costs of keeping a home for yourself and your dependents; you can also claim a Head of household filing type in Step 1 (c).
If you have no dependents, you can ignore step 3 on the W-4. Fill out the rest of the form as normal.
If you have one dependent, you can deduct $2,000 or $500, depending on their age. If you are also the Head of household, meaning you are unmarried and pay more than half the cost of keeping a home for yourself and your dependent, you can also claim a Head of household filing type in Step 1 (c).
Example: Stacy is single with one child, making less than $200,000 per year, and is the Head of Household. In Step 1 (c), she will mark Head of Household. Because she has a child under the age of 17, she can claim the child as a dependent to receive a $2,000 deduction. She will mark that in Step 3. If she has income from other jobs, specific deductions, or prefers extra withholding, she will continue to step 5.
For two dependents, you will multiply 2 by either $2,000 for children under 17 or $500 for those 18 and over. Or, add $2,000 and $500 if you have one of each. Mark the amount in Step 3. If you are also the Head of household, mark that in Step 1 (c).
Example: Jennifer is single with two children under 17. Since she is not married and makes less than $200,000. Because her children are under the age of 17 and she makes less than $200,000, she can claim each child as a dependent to receive a $4,000 deduction.
The same as two dependents, determine the dependent type, add up the totals of your dependents, and claim head of household.
Example: Trisha is single with three children. Since she is not married, she claims as the Head of Household under Step 1. Because her children are under the age of 17 and she makes less than $200,000, she can claim each child as a dependent to receive a $6,000 deduction which she will write in Step 3.
How to Fill Out W-4 if Single: Job or Multiple Jobs With Dependents
If you are single and working multiple jobs with dependents, you need to understand how to maximize your deductions and prevent yourself from being overtaxed. Even though each W-4 form is the same, they must be filled out differently if you work multiple jobs.
1 Job, 1 Dependent
If you are working one job with one dependent, you should skip step 2 and fill out step 3 to claim your deduction.
1 Job, 2+ Dependents
Working only one job means you can skip Step 2 and move to Step 3. For multiple dependents, you will multiply the number by the amount you are entitled to based on their ages.
Example: Patrick works one job with one child under 17 and one over 18 but is still in college. He fills out step 1 typically, skips step 2, and enters both of his children on step 3. The child under will qualify for a $2,000 deduction, while the older child qualifies for $500. Patrick will write $2,500 in Step 3.
2+ Jobs, 1 Dependent
Those with two or more jobs and a dependent should complete step 2 following the rules for the Multiple Jobs Worksheet. Then, for one dependent, Step 3 will include either $2,000 for a child under 17 or $500 for an older dependent.
Example: Gerald works two jobs, one making $50,000 and one making $10,000, and has one child. He enters all of his basic information in step 1. He will then move to Step 2 and use the Multiple Jobs Worksheet to help calculate his withholding amount.
In the Worksheet, Gerald finds the row $40,000-59,999 in the Higher Paying Job column and moves across to the $10,000-19,999, meaning he’ll need to withhold $3,510 annually, or $135 per paycheck if paid biweekly before deductions and other non-withholding income. He’ll enter this in Step 4(c).
For Step 3, he will enter $2,000 to account for his one child.
2+ Jobs, 2+ Dependents
With two or more jobs and two or more dependents, make sure to correctly record all dependents and only record them in step 3 on your highest-paying job.
Example: Oliver works three jobs, one making $45,000, one making $30,000, and one making $15,000, and he has two children. He fills out step 1. For step 2, he will use the Multiple Jobs Worksheet to calculate his withholding amount.
First, he will take his highest paying job, $45,000, and find the row $40,000- $59,999 in the Higher Paying Job column. Then he will move across to the $10,000-$19,999 column to get $3,510. This will go in Step 2a of the worksheet.
Then, he will add his two highest-paying jobs to get $75,000. He will find the $60,000-$79,000 row in the Higher Paying Job column and move across to the $10,000-$19,999 column to account for his lowest-paying job. This will give him $3,510. This will go in Step 2b of the worksheet.
He will add them together for Step 2c to get $7,020. He gets paid biweekly, so he will divide $7,020 by 26 to get $270. He will input $270 in Step 4 (c) of the W-4.
He will then move to Step 3, where he will claim $4,000 for his 2 children.
How to Fill Out the W-4 Deductions Worksheet if Single
W-4 deductions worksheet is a part of a W-4 where a person may claim additional deductions to reduce their amount withholding.
W-4 Deductions Worksheet Workthrough if Single
If you are single, you can still have additional deductions that can be recorded on the W-4 Deductions Worksheet or Schedule A Form 1040.
This line is for itemized deductions from a Schedule A form 1040. This will include deductions such as home mortgage interest, charitable contributions, state and local taxes (up to $10,000), medical expenses over 7.5% of your job income, gifts by cash or check over $250, or casualty and theft losses from a federally declared disaster.
Line two is where you enter the deduction amount based on your marital status. If you are single with no dependents, your deduction will be $12,950.
Line 3 is for the difference between lines 1 and 2. If line 1 is greater, subtract line 2 from it and enter the difference. If line 2 is greater, enter “0”.
Line 4 is for student loan interest, deductible IRA contributions, and certain other deductions outlined in publication 505.
The final result of your deductions is found by adding lines 3 and 4. Remember to record this amount in Step 4(b) of the W-4.
Example: Jessica is single and working one job trying to figure out her deductions. She has no itemized deductions to claim, so she skips line 1. On line 2, since she is single, she enters $12,950. With no itemized deductions, she has to write 0 on line 3. On line 4, she claims a $6,000 deduction from her IRA contributions and $500 from student loan interest. Her final deduction is $6,500.
How to Fill Out W4 if Single and a College Student
You are not exempt from any federal tax liability as a student and may be required to report scholarships and grants as taxable income. Many students choose not to file a W-4 because their income amount is below the required threshold, but some do if they have income withheld and want a tax refund. For more information, see the IRS website for tax information on students.
Example: Kevin is working a job and attending college classes. Since he is a student and is not being claimed as a dependent, he should fill out his W-4 just as anyone else with one job.
How to Fill Out W-4 if Single and are a Dependent Yourself
You should claim 0 allowances as a dependent because someone else is claiming you as a dependent for a deduction. You will most likely receive a refund, but you will have the maximum amount deducted from each paycheck.
Example: Jonathan lives with his parents, and they claim him as a dependent, but he recently got a job and is filling out a W-4. Since his parents claim him as a dependent, he cannot use himself as an allowance and will not receive a standard deduction. The rest of the W-4 should be filled out as normal.
How to Fill Out W-4 if Single and Living with Parents
Filling out a W-4 if you live with your parents will depend on whether or not they claim you as a dependent. If they do, you cannot claim a personal exemption. All other areas should be filled out normally.
Example: Jonathan lives with his parents, who claim him as a dependent, but he recently got a job and is filling out a W-4. Since his parents claim him as a dependent, he cannot use himself as an allowance and will not receive a standard deduction. The rest of the W-4 should be filled out as normal.
How to Fill Out W-4 if Single and Want a Maximum Refund
If you want to maximize your refund, you can use Step 4 (c) on the W-4. You can increase your withholding more than is necessary; you can increase your refund at the cost of reducing your income. Most people prefer not to do this as they would rather have the money immediately than delay it for a refund later.
Example: Lance is single and wants to maximize his refund. He fills out most of the W-4, but when he gets to Step 4(c), he enters the maximum amount that can be withheld.
How to Fill Out W-4 if Single and Want the Least Taxes Withheld
If you want the least amount of taxes withheld from your paycheck, there are three areas on a W-4 that can reduce the amount withheld. Step 3 and step 4 (a-b) can reduce the amount withheld. Claiming more dependents in step 3 will reduce the amount by either $2,000 or $500 per dependent. Having less income from another job or more deductions to claim will reduce the withheld amount in step 4 (a-b).
Example: Patricia wants the least amount of taxes withheld from her income. To do so, she must ensure that she correctly deducts all amounts from steps 3-4(b). With no dependents, she cannot deduct anything from step 3, but she does deduct her home mortgage interest, charitable contributions, state and local taxes, medical expenses over 7.5% of her income, student loan interest, and IRA contributions properly. If she deducts too much, she will owe taxes at the end of the tax year.
How to Fill Out W-4 if Single and Self-Employed
In most cases, self-employed people will not receive a W-4 and will use W-9s and 1099s to file their taxes. Those with multiple jobs and gig workers with side jobs can use the W-4 from their primary job to withhold all of their taxes and not have to pay a lump sum at the end of the year.
Example: Oliver works one job from 9-5 and then a side job as a weekend gig worker. His total annual income will be $70,000, but his company only withholds $400 per biweekly paycheck. To pay the proper amount of taxes and avoid paying a lump sum next year, he should enter $24 of extra withholding on step 4(c) of the W-4.
How to Fill Out W-4 if Single and Pregnant
If you are single and pregnant, you may be tempted to file as Head of household with a dependent, but the child will not be considered a dependent until it is born. To be claimed as a dependent, the baby must have been born during your filing tax year.
Example: Tracey is pregnant for most of the previous year with her child, but the child is not born until the current year. When filing her taxes for the previous year, Tracey cannot claim the baby as a dependent since it was not born yet.
Here are the answers to some common questions about filling out form W-4 when single.
Step 4(c) allows you to withhold more from your income for tax purposes.
You can claim dependents, reduce your other income, or claim more deductions (steps 3- 4(b)).
If single and claiming yourself as a deduction, use the deductions worksheet for step 4(b).
No, you will have to pay more in taxes later.
Claiming zero means you want the maximum amount of taxes withheld, so you most likely won’t owe back taxes at the end of the tax year.
Claim zero for the maximum amount withheld, one if you are single with one job. If you are single with dependents, file as a head of household and add an allowance for each dependent.
No, you do not claim yourself as a dependent on a W-4.
You will fill out the W-4 as if you are single unless you are the Head of household or remarry before the end of the year.
Yes, you can leave sections blank if they do not apply to you.
You may file another W-4 form to withhold additional taxes from your other job as compensation, or you can pay quarterly estimated taxes for the 1099 to ensure you avoid any penalties.