Question

If I do not claim dependents on my W4, can I claim the number of dependents that I actually have on my tax return?

Answer

On your W-4 Form you claim allowances, which your employer uses to calculate the tax withheld from your paycheck. The number of dependents you have factors into your overall W-4 allowances. Many people simply count their family members and put that number down as the number of allowances on W-4 Form!

Caveats to Claiming Dependents on W-4 Forms

The number of allowances you claim on your W-4 doesn’t have to match the actual number of dependents or family members you have on your tax return. There could be other reasons, such as side income, for you to reduce the number of allowances you claim.

Number of Allowances on W-4 Forms and Tax Withholdings

Claiming fewer allowances on Form w-4 will result in more tax being withheld from your paychecks and less take-home pay. This might result in a larger tax refund. On the other hand, claiming too many allowances could mean that not enough tax is withheld during the year. With the W-4 Form and dependents, the strategy will definitely vary based on individual tax circumstances, income and your filing status.

To summarize, the number of dependents you have and the number of allowances you claim on your W-4 Form do not have to exactly coincide, but they are definitely related.

Although it is late in the year, if you were disappointed in the size of your refund or you had an unexpected balance due when you filed your 2019 tax return, it is not too late to make changes for 2019. These changes may involve decreasing the number of allowances on Form W-4 or asking your employer to withhold an additional amount from your remaining paychecks.

For more help figuring out the number of dependents that you should claim on your 2019 W-4 form, use our W-4 Withholding Calculator. Then, if you still have questions, find a tax office near you for personal guidance!

New in 2020

The IRS has revised the W-4 Form and instructions for 2020. The redesigned form will not use allowances. There are just a few required steps, such as entering your name and social security number. Then you have the option of completing more steps for better withholding accuracy. Employees with more complex situations, such as second jobs and family tax credits, may want to do the additional steps. If you have a W-4 on file with your current employer in 2019 you are not required to fill out the new W-4 in 2020, but it may be to your benefit to do so. Here is some additional information about the 2020 Form W-4.

Related Topics

Related Resources

Military Moving Expenses

Are military moving expenses tax deductible? Learn more and get tax answers at H&R Block.

What IRS Private Delivery Service Should I Use to File or Pay Taxes on Time?

Review this list of IRS-approved private delivery services to get your tax return and payment mailed on time from H&R Block.

Can I Claim Medical Expenses on My Taxes?

If you’re itemizing deductions, the IRS generally allows you a medical expenses deduction if you have unreimbursed expenses that are more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income for tax years 2017 or 2018. You can deduct the cost of care from several types of practitioners at various stages of care.

Including Sales Tax For Deduction

Can you include the sales tax in the price of an item your claiming for a deduction? Learn more from the tax experts at H&R Block.