Tax Resources

Can I Claim 0 on My W-4 if I am Married?

The question 'can I claim 0 on my W-4 if I am married?' is one of the most common questions. Many taxpayers are married and the W-4 Employee withholding allowance certificate allows some flexibility in the amount withheld for a married taxpayer. While this is very generous of the IRS, it does complicate filling out the W-4 form for taxpayers.

The employer uses the information on W-4 tax form to determine the amount of withholding. Information on W-4 used to figure out the amount of withholding are:

  • whether to withhold at the single or lower married rate (the higher the rate the more tax withheld)
  • how many withholding allowances you claim (each allowance reduced the amount withheld)
  • whether you want an additional amount withheld (so you are paying more of your tax liability during the year)

Most taxpayers don't want much withheld from their paychecks. In fact most taxpayers want as little withheld as possible. If a taxpayer pays taxes during the year, it is likely that they will get a refund at the end of the tax year so they prefer to get less refunds and have more money now than the other way round.

If you are married

A married taxpayer can claim 0 on his or her W-4 form whenever there is an option to. For example, on line C in the Personal Allowance Worksheet on the W-4 form page 1, the taxpayer can either enter 1 or 0 and that the taxpayer can enter 0 to avoid having too little withheld.

Most taxpayers enter 1 if given the option to in order to avoid having too much withheld. Having too little withheld is usually not a problem for taxpayers.

Some taxpayers think that entering 0 means having no withholding so they enter 0 whenever allowed in order to have the least amount withheld from their paychecks. However, this is backward from what actually happens.

W-4 0 Exemptions

Any time 0 is entered on the W-4 the taxpayer is effectively claiming 0 exemptions. That means the employer will withhold the maximum amount possible of the taxpayer's money. This results in smaller paychecks and higher tax withholding. When the taxpayer files taxes on April 15th, he or she will have more money refunded from the IRS.

The IRS likes it when taxpayers put 0 on the W-4 form indicating that they are not claiming any exemptions. The IRS likes it less when taxpayers put 1 on any lines possible indicating that they are claiming any possible exemptions. Remember that 0 means the highest tax withheld. Put 1 on W-4 form for the least amount withheld and more money in your pocket now.