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Step-by-Step Instructions for Using the IRS Withholding Calculator

IRS Tax Reform Tax Tip 2018-47, March 28, 2018

The IRS encourages everyone to use the Withholding Calculator to perform a quick “paycheck checkup.”  This is even more important this year because of recent tax law changes.

Results from the calculator will include a recommendation of whether or not users should consider submitting a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, to their employers. Before beginning, taxpayers should have a copy of their most recent pay stub and tax return.

Here are step-by-step instructions for using the calculator:

Go to the main Withholding Calculator page on IRS.gov. Carefully read all information and click the blue Withholding Calculator button.

Use the buttons at the bottom of each page to navigate through the calculator. The buttons allow users to continue inputting their information, reset the information on that page, or start over from the beginning.

Input general tax situation information, including:

  • Filing status.
  • Whether anyone can claim the users as dependents.
  • Total number of jobs held during the year.
  • Contributions to a tax-deferred retirement, cafeteria or other pre-tax plan.
  • Scholarships or fellowship grants received that are included in gross income.
  • Number of dependents.

Input information about credits, including:

  • Child and dependent care credit.
  • Child tax credit.
  • Earned income tax credit.

Enter the total estimated taxable income expected during the year. Amounts the user will enter include wages, bonuses, military retirement, taxable pensions, and unemployment compensation. Users should enter a "0" on lines asking for amounts that don’t apply to them.

Enter an estimate of adjustments to income, including deductible IRA contributions and education loan interest.

Indicate standard deduction or itemized deductions. Users who plan to itemize will enter estimates of these deductions.

Print out the summary of results. The calculator will provide a summary of the taxpayer's information. Taxpayers use the results to determine if they need to complete a new Form W-4, which they give to their employer.