What taxpayers need to know about using the IRS Tax Withholding Estimator

IRS Tax Tip 2021-98, July 8, 2021

All taxpayers should use the IRS Tax Withholding Estimator to check their withholding. This tool helps people make sure their employers are taking out the right amount of tax from the employee's paychecks. It can be used by workers, as well as retirees, self-employed individuals and other taxpayers. The money withheld from an employee's paycheck throughout the year should cover the amount of tax they owe.

Taxpayers can follow these simple steps for using the estimator. Results will include a recommendation of whether the taxpayer should consider submitting a new Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate, to any of their employers.

Step 1: Gather documents.

Before beginning, taxpayers should have a copy of their most recent pay stub and tax return. Taxpayers should go to the main Tax Withholding Estimator page on IRS.gov. Once there, they should carefully read all information and click the blue Tax Withholding Estimator button.

Step 2: Answer the questions.

Users will answer a series of questions about their specific tax situation. When they complete each section, they click the blue "Next" button that takes them to the next section.

Step 3: Review the results.

Taxpayers use the estimator's results to determine if they need to complete a new Form W-4, which they submit to their employer, not to the IRS. Many employers have an automated system for submitting changes for Form W-4. Employee's should check with their employer to see if this option available.

The tool helps the user target a tax due amount close to zero or a refund amount. Those who receive pension income, can use the results from the estimator to complete a Form W-4P and give it to their payer.

More information:

  • How to Use the IRS Withholding Estimator for Paycheck Checkup - YouTube (obsolete)

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