IRS FAQs on Form W-4: Employee’s Withholding Certificate

Employers must have new employees complete a number of forms before they can begin their employment. Form W-4 is one of these forms. Form W4 provides employers the information they need to adequately set up a new employee’s filing status for payroll tax purposes. Form W-4 is published and updated by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

On Form W-4, employees can also declare the number of dependents, the tax credits and deductions they intend to claim. While this form is often used for new hires, employees can update the W-4 form they have on file with their employer whenever a change in filing status, dependents or other tax credits and deductions take place.

This Compliance Overview presents the answers the IRS has published in response to frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to Form W-4.



  • Form W-4 is used to declare filing status, dependents, tax credits and tax deductions.
  • Employers use Form W-4 to determine some employee payroll withholdings and deductions.
  • Employees can change their withholdings at any time by submitting a new W-4 to their employers.

Important Versions

  • The IRS redesigned Form W-4 2020 to reduce complexity and increase transparency.
  • A new 2021 version was released in December 2020.
  • Form W-4 is also available in Spanish.
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