How Do I Fill Out My W-4?

Read this in: Spanish / Español
Authored By: Iowa Legal Aid


When you start working you will need to fill out a form to set the amount of taxes that will be taken out of your check each payday. This form is called a W-4 . You will have to answer some questions to decide how many allowances to claim on your W-4. Claim too few and you will pay too much in taxes in each paycheck. You will have to file a return to get a refund. Claim too many allowances and you will owe taxes and have to pay them when you file your tax return. If you intentionally claim allowances you are not entitled to, you are committing a crime. You can also be fined for claiming too many allowances.

Make sure that you fill out your W-4 form. It has a worksheet with questions to help you decide the right number of allowances to claim. IRS Publication 505 explains the W-4 in more detail. This booklet is not available in Spanish but the W-4 is. If you have more questions after reading the instructions for the W-4, you may need to seek someone's assistance who is bilingual.

Your answers to the questions below will help you decide how many allowances to take.

  • Are you married or single?
  • Can you be claimed as someone else's dependent?
  • Can you file head of household?
  • Will you have child/dependent care expenses?
  • If you are married, do both you and your spouse have jobs or do you have more than one job?
  • Do you have any dependents you can claim?

If you don't understand the form or need help filling it out you can call the IRS without charge at 1-800-829-1040. Spanish language assistance is available. Be prepared to be placed on hold and wait awhile for assistance.

Iowa Legal Aid can sometimes help with tax problems or questions. Call 1-800-532-1275 (se habla español).

Last Review and Update: Jul 18, 2023
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