How to Fill out W-4 for Single Dependent

Complete a new W-4 whenever you gain or lose a dependent.
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Form W-4 was updated in 2020, eliminating allowances. If you're filing as a single person with one or more dependents, you'll need to identify your status and claim your dependents correctly on the new form.


You also might or might not have to update the W-4 you filled out prior to 2020, based on a variety of factors. Reviewing how to properly claim your dependent(s) on the new W-4 will help you avoid paying an incorrect amount of taxes this year, explains TurboTax.

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The New Form W-4

The new Form W-4 no longer asks you to choose the number of allowances you want to claim. For example, a single filer used to be able to claim one allowance (herself) or zero, depending on how much tax she wanted withheld from each paycheck. Claiming one allowance reduced her taxes, while claiming zero allowed her to pay slightly more so she could avoid underpaying her taxes.


The latter scenario might happen if she had non-job income, such as from a rental property. The new form asks you to take into account income from a second job or a spouse who is filing jointly with you and also works. You can also make other adjustments.

If you filed a W-4 before 2020 and your status hasn't changed, you don't need to fill out a new W-4. Check with your tax preparer or HR department to make sure this is true for your situation.


Fill Out Step 1

Step 1 is the area where you fill in your name, address, Social Security number and filing status. You then claim:

  • Single or married filing separately
  • Married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er)
  • Head of household (if you're unmarried and pay more than half the costs of keeping a home for yourself and a qualifying individual)


Read More:What's Different About the 2021 Child Tax Credit?

Review Step 2

Step 2 helps you estimate your withholding if you have income from a second job or your spouse (who is filing with you) has a second job. You can use the IRS Tax Withholding Estimator or use the Multiple Jobs Worksheet on page 3 of the W-4 forms and instructions, then enter the result in Step 4(c).


Fill Out Step 3

Step 3 is where you list your deductions for qualifying dependents. Review the IRS guidelines in Publication 501 to see who qualifies as a dependent. These include family members who are minors or parents who you care for and pay more than 50 percent of their expenses. Follow the directions, which guide you based on your income the number of dependents you are claiming.


Read More:E-Filing: How to File Your Taxes Electronically, IRS Free File & More

Fill Out Step 4

If you have income that is not job-related (such as from a rental property), you have deductions you want to claim beyond the standard deduction or you want to have additional money withheld for some reason, fill out this section.


Read More:Choosing Head of Household When Filing Your Taxes

Fill Out Step 5

Once you've filled out your information, sign and date the form and give it to your employer to fill in its name, your first date of employment and the company's Employer Identification Number.