Guidance on how to fill out a W-4 with help from accredited sources

As part of your employment paperwork, you will often have to fill out a W-4 form. It is not a one-time task as various life events may require you to adjust the form.

The IRS provides an in-detail instructions document for every form that they make available, including one for the W-4. In general, you will find these under the Forms & Instructions tabs on their website. If you have trouble locating the right instructions guide, review the form itself as it might have the information included on the form page itself. Should it not be there, a quick Google search for "FORM NAME instructions" where you fill in the form name that you are completing, should bring up direct link on the first page of the search results. Specifically for the W-4, the agency provides a wealth of information at the following web address:

Despite the fact that there are multiple tools available to guide you line by line, the language is not always easy to understand for everyone. If you find yourself confused and start looking for additional explanation, remember to rely on accredited sources for answers. These organizations often offer free guides. Below is a list of a few you can rely on confidently:

IRS Withholding Calculator

H&R Block Article

H&R Block W-4 Calculator

Credit Karma Article

Liberty Tax Article

PWC W-4 new tax law changes

In conclusion, the list above is not all-inclusive as many established CPA and EA firms will post guides of their own and it would be impossible to cover them all here. But keep in mind that whichever source you end up relying, make sure that they, at the least, have taken a graded tax course from an accredited tax program that requires a passing score before they can work with the tax questions from other people. It does not have to be a paid course or exam. Even the free VITA service requires its' representatives to test before working with the public. Steer clear of any blog posts or individuals offering to correct your W-4 who have not gone through any verified tax training program. Another clue is to glance over the sample forms or visuals they provide for you. These should be either blank forms or forms that are completed with sample information. Anyone presenting you with a copy of a finished form or an actual form that was completed with another individuals real information, even if the personal information and social security are covered, should raise a red flag for you. Last but not least, the information that you find should be objective. The guide should explain what the end result will look like, financially, if you increase the withholding and what it will look like if you decrease the withholding, without references to how "your money is hard earned" or how you need to change your perspective. Anything or anyone that adds in personal or controversial opinions in the explanation that steer you too much towards one direction of either big refund or bigger paycheck, is more likely to be attempting to scam you. Stay safe and do not become an unsuspecting contributor to tax fraud.

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