Question

My withholding status has been married with no dependents. If I change my W-4 filing status to single vs. married, will my take-home pay be increased or decreased?

Answer

If you switch from married to one of the other withholding statuses, your take-home pay will be lower. More of your pay is withheld at the single rate than at the rate for married taxpayers.

Withholding Status Options

You have three choices for your W-4 filing status as it relates to your marital status. Each may have a different affect on your withholding status, depending on your situation.

Your 2019 W-4 filing status choices are:

  • Single: W-4 Single status should be used if you are not married and have no dependents.
  • Married: W-4 married status should be used if you are married and are filing jointly.
  • Married, but withhold at higher Single rate: This status should be used if you are married but filing separately, or if both spouses work and have similar income.

Your 2020 W-4 filing status choices are:

  • Single or Married Filing Separately: This status should be used if you are either single or married but filing separately.
  • Married Filing Jointly (or Qualifying Widower): This status should be used if you are married and filing a joint tax return with your spouse. This status will have less taxes withheld from each paycheck than Head of Household.
  • Head of Household: This status should be used if you are filing your tax return as head of household. Historically this status will have more withholding than Married Filing Jointly.

More Help on Single vs. Married Withholding Statuses

For personalized guidance when it comes to state withholding forms and your withholding status, find an H&R Block tax office nearest you. In the meantime, view our W-4 Withholding Calculator to gauge your federal withholdings.

Related Topics

Related Resources

Top IRS Audit Triggers: Nine Tax Mistakes to Avoid

What triggers the IRS to audit a tax return? Learn how common tax mistakes and errors can be a red flag and affect your chances of being audited by the IRS.

What are the current tax rates?

Find the current percentages for federal income tax rates, capital gains tax rates, Social Security tax rates and more from the tax experts at H&R Block.

The Complete Guide to the W-2 Form

The key to understanding your w-2 form is decoding the boxes and numbers. Learn how to read your w-2 form with this box-by-box infographic from H&R Block.

Form 8863

The tax experts at H&R Block outline how students and parents can file Form 8863 and document qualified expenses. Read about Form 8863 here.