If you are an employee, you should expect to fill out an IRS Form W-4, a document your employer uses to calculate how much federal income taxes to withhold from your paycheck. The amount withheld from your paycheck will depend on your number of dependents, jobs, and deductions.
If you have multiple jobs or a side job in addition to your primary job, you will need to file a W-4 with each employer, but only include the extra amount to withhold on one of the forms. Our step-by-step guide can help you complete your W-4s accurately so you don’t over or underpay your taxes.
How a Second Job Affects Tax Withholdings
When you have a second job or an additional source of income, you should claim extra withholding on your W-4 to account for the additional income. Two jobs often push you into a higher income bracket, so you must withhold more of your income using line 4(c).
Which Step Must You Fill Out if You Have Multiple Jobs on W-4?
If you have multiple jobs, use step 2 to guide you on how to fill out your W-4. Check the box in step 2(c) if the lower paying job is more than half of the wage of the higher paying job. If it is lower, use the multiple jobs worksheet and record the amount to withhold on line 4(c).
Fill Out W-4 with a Second Job: Position Status
Your options for filling out a W-4 will change depending on whether your second job is a full-time or a part-time position. Some jobs, such as contract work, may require filing a W-9 instead of a W-4. If this is the case, you will need to use the multiple jobs worksheet to calculate how much extra to withhold because of your second job.
Part-Time Second Job
If you have a part-time second job, use the Multiple Jobs Worksheet on Page 4 of your W-4 to calculate the taxes to withhold. Once you have used the worksheet to calculate the amount, record it on line 4(c) as extra withholding.
Example: You are a single taxpayer and work two jobs: a full-time primary position with a yearly salary of $25,000 and a part-time second job with a taxable annual wage of $12,000. Your primary job pays you monthly, resulting in 12 pay periods per year.
First, ensure you use Form W-4 corresponding to the highest-paying job. Then, refer to the table on Page 4 and find the value relevant to your filing status and the annual taxable wages and salaries for both jobs: in this case, the value needed is 1,750.
Enter that value in Field 1 of Step 2(b). Skip fields 2a, 2b, and 2c. In Field 3, the number of pay periods to enter is 12. The value to enter in Field 4 is equal to the number in Field 1 divided by the pay periods entered in Field 3. In this instance, it is 1,750 divided by 12, or 145.83. If you don’t wish to add extra withholding, enter the same value in Step 4(c).
Full-Time Second Job
If you have another full-time job as a second job that also requires a W-4, then you have the option to check the box in step 2(c). Check the box if both jobs have similar pay (the lower paying job is more than half of the higher paying job). If not, use the multiple jobs worksheet to calculate how much extra withholding you need to record on line 4(c).
Example: You are a single taxpayer working two jobs, each corresponding to a Form W-4. Your primary job has a salary of $30,000, and your second job has a salary of $25,000. Because your secondary job pays more than half your first, your tax withholdings will be more accurate if you check the Step 2(c) box on both forms. Then, fill out one of your W-4 forms, leaving steps 3-4(b) blank on the other, as per the instructions.
Fill Out W-4 with a Second Job: Filing Status
When filling out your W-4, one of the first things you will do is fill in your personal information in step one. Step 1(c) is your marital status, where your options are single/married filing separately, married filing jointly/qualifying surviving spouse, or head of household.
Depending on your answer to your marital status, you will have to change how you file your W-4 with multiple jobs and record your extra withholdings.
If you are single with a second job, mark the box labeled single in step 1(c), then choose the option in step 2 that best applies to you. Check the step 2(c) box if your jobs have similar pay. If not, use the multiple jobs worksheet to determine your extra withholdings.
Example: You are a single taxpayer working two jobs: a full-time primary position with a yearly salary of $32,000 and a part-time second job with an annual salary of $9,500. Your primary job pays you weekly, resulting in 52 pay periods.
Check the “Single or Married filing separately” box in Step 1(c) of your Form W-4s. In Step 2, as your second job’s yearly income is less than half the first, leave the Step 2(c) box unchecked and use the Multiple Jobs Worksheet instead.
Per the Single or Married Filing Separately table on Page 4, the value to enter in Step 2(b) Field 1 is 1,020. In Field 3, enter your primary job’s number of pay periods: 52. In Field 4, the value to enter is equal to 1,020 divided by 52: 19.62. Enter the same value in the field in Step 4(c) if you don’t wish to add extra withholding.
Married Filing Jointly
If you are married and filing jointly, you will both need to complete a W-4 for your job, but only one needs to withhold taxes, claim dependents, and mark deductions. If either you or your spouse works a second job in addition to each of your primary jobs, you should report all withholdings on a single W-4.
Since you will be filing for a minimum of three jobs, you will need to use the multiple jobs worksheet to calculate how much more should be withheld. To do this, you should first use the two higher paying jobs with the worksheet, and then add both of the higher paying jobs together and use them with the lowest paying job on the worksheet. Add the results together and complete the rest of the worksheet to determine how much more to withhold.
Example: You are a married taxpayer working two jobs, and you are filing jointly with your spouse, who works one job, resulting in a total of three jobs. Your primary job pays $46,000 a year, your secondary job pays $11,000 a year, and your spouse’s job pays $38,000 a year. Your primary job pays you monthly, resulting in 12 pay periods.
First, check the “Married filing jointly or Qualifying surviving spouse” box on all Form W-4s. In Step 2, you’ll need to refer to the Multiple Jobs Worksheet and follow the instructions for three jobs. Skip Field 1 of Step 2(b).
In Field 2a, refer to the “Married Filing Jointly” table on Page 4 by using your highest paying job (46,000) and your spouse’s job (38,000) as the respective values. The corresponding value is 3,520.
In Field 2b, refer to the “Married Filing Jointly” table again, but add together the annual wages of the two highest paying jobs (46,000 + 38,000) and use the result (84,000) as the higher paying job. Then, use the annual wages of the lowest paying job. With 84,000 as the higher wage and 11,000 as the lower wage, the corresponding value is 2,220.
In Field 2c, enter the sum of the values entered in Fields 2a and 2b: 5,740. Then, enter the pay period for your highest paying job in Field 3: 12. Lastly, the value to enter in Field 4 equals 5,740 divided by 12: 478.33. If you wish not to add extra withholding, fill in the same number in the corresponding field in Step 4(c).
Head of Household
As a head of household with a second job, your W-4 will be similar to those filing if they are single, but you will have a higher threshold for your taxable wage and salary. Mark the correct box in line 1(c) for head of household, and then choose which option fits you in line 2.
Check the line 2(c) box if you have similar paying jobs. If not, use the multiple jobs worksheet to determine your extra withholdings while using the table labeled head of household, or you could end up withholding too much.
Example: You are an unmarried individual filing as a head of household and working two jobs. Your primary job pays $31,000, and your second job pays $27,000. You do not have any additional tax credits. You live with two qualifying dependents: a qualifying child aged 14 and a qualifying non-child dependent aged 67; you support 80% of your dependents’ living expenses. This living situation allows you to check the “Head of household” box in Step 1(c) on all your W-4 forms.
Because your second job pays more than half that of your first, you may check the box in Step 2(c) on both W-4 forms. On Step 3 of the Form W-4 corresponding to your highest paying job, you may claim one qualifying child and one qualifying non-child dependent. Fill in $2,000 in the first field of Step 3, $500 in the second field, and $2,500 in the third. Fill in the rest of the form as you normally would.
Fill Out W-4 with a Second Job: Dependents
If you have dependents and a second job, you will need to fill out both lines 2 and 3 on your W-4. In line 2, you will either check the box for similar paying jobs or use the multiple jobs worksheet to calculate your extra withholdings.
In Step 3, you will need to determine the type of dependents, either qualifying children under age 17 or other, and multiply the appropriate amount by the number of dependents. These amounts will be added and considered a deduction. If you are single, you can only file dependents if your income is $200,000 or less, or $400,000 for married couples filing jointly.
If you have no dependents, you will not need to fill anything out in Step 3 and will claim no dependents on your W-4. You cannot claim yourself as a dependent.
Example: You are a single taxpayer with no dependents and two jobs. Fill in Step 3 of the Form W-4 corresponding to the highest paying job, leaving Step 3 on the other form blank. As you have no dependents, you’ll enter 0 in all three fields.
With one dependent, you will need to record whether they are a child under age 18 or another qualifying dependent. A child under age 17 will be marked as a $2,000 deduction, while other qualifying dependents are a $500 deduction each.
Example: You are a single taxpayer with one dependent and two jobs. Your dependent is a 15-year-old daughter who has lived at your address for the entire tax year. You have no additional tax credits. Ensure you only fill in the details on Step 3 on the W-4 for your highest paying job, leaving Step 3 on the other form blank. As your dependent is a qualifying child under 17, you may claim a $2,000 deduction for them. Enter 2,000 in the first field, 0 in the second, and 2,000 in the third.
If you have two dependents, you must determine which categories they belong to, then enter the corresponding values in Step 3. As before, you may claim $2,000 for each qualifying child aged 17 or under and $500 for each qualifying non-child dependent.
Example: A taxpayer has two children aged 12 and 14 and wants to record both on the W-4 for a deduction. Since both are 17 years old or younger, they both qualify for a $2,000 deduction. The taxpayer multiples $2,000 by 2, resulting in $4,000 and placing that amount on the first line in step 3. On the second line, the taxpayer has no more dependents, so record a 0. The taxpayer then adds the two numbers and places $4,000 on the third line. This is the deduction.
Three or more dependents is the same as with two dependents. Multiple the number of dependents by the qualifying type and record the result to the right.
Example: A taxpayer lives with two children under 18 and her parents. All four qualify as dependents but for different amounts. Since the two children are under 18, the taxpayer multiplies $2,000 by two, placing $4,000 on the first line of step 3. The taxpayer then multiplies $500 by two because the parents are dependents and puts $1,000 on the second line. On the third line, the taxpayer adds the two amounts and uses the total of $5,000. This amount is the deduction.
Fill Out W-4 with a Second Job as a 1099 Contractor
A “1099 contractor” is a shorthand for an individual who works independently or as a contractor for another organization instead of being employed. The number 1099 refers to IRS Form 1099-NEC, used to report non-employee compensation.
If you work a regular job but also participate in the gig economy on the side as a second occupation, such as DoorDash, Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit, and similar occupations, you may receive a Form 1099-NEC from your employer instead of a standard Form W-2.
However, from the IRS’s point of view, the tax situation of an independent contractor is identical to that of a self-employed individual. Consequently, you do not need to fill out a Form W-4 for your second job.
Instead, you must report the income from your side gig as though it was self-employment income, meaning you pay taxes according to the quarterly estimated taxes regime. You can pay these taxes by filling out an IRS Form 1040-ES separately or by withholding from your wages on your primary job’s Form W-4.
As a 1099 contractor, you will owe both self-employment and income taxes. If you wish to pay these taxes by withholding from your primary job wages, follow the detailed instructions provided on Page 2 of Form W-4.
Example: You have two jobs: a primary job as an employee and a second job as a gig economy worker, where you earn more than $600 a year. Your employer at your primary job will issue you a Form W-4, whereas your gig economy employer will issue a Form 1099-NEC. When filling out your Form W-4, you can pay the income and self-employment taxes you’ll owe by withholding from your primary job wages.
To do so, enter the income you received at your second job in the “Other income” field in Step 4(a). Then, calculate your self-employment taxes according to the instructions on Page 2, divide the tax by the number of pay periods remaining this year, and add the resulting amount for each pay period in the “Extra withholding” field in Step 4(c).
To calculate your self-employment taxes, follow the instructions published in IRS Publication 505.
Here are the answers to some common questions about correctly completing form W-4 while working a second job.
Incorrectly filling out your Form W-4s can result in an insufficient amount of money withheld from your paycheck for taxes (under withholding) or too much taxes being withheld from your paycheck (over withholding). Consult a tax professional if you need help filling out your W-4 or have a complicated tax situation.
If you work exactly two jobs, and the pay at your lowest paying job is more than half what you earn at your highest-paying job, Step 2 of Form W-4 recommends checking the box at substep (c) for a more accurate withholding calculation.
You need a separate Form W-4 for each of your jobs. However, if you work several jobs, you use the Multiple Jobs Worksheet on Page 3 on only one of your forms.
You may split claims between both Form W-4s or claim all on one form and zero on the other. Either method is valid as long as you do not claim more dependents than you are entitled to across both forms.
A second job can cause you to owe more federal income taxes. Depending on the total combined income earned for the year, you may be pushed into a higher tax bracket.
There is no legal obligation to inform your first employer if you are working a second job, but you should revise your W-4 so your employer withholds the correct federal income taxes.
You will need to fill out the Multiple Jobs Worksheet on Page 3 of one of your Form W-4s. The IRS recommends using the W-4 corresponding to your highest-paying job.