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Adjust your wage withholding

Wage Withholding

Wage withholding is the prepayment of income tax. The amount of wages taken from your paycheck for state and federal income taxes is referred to as withholding. The amount of tax withheld is based on the amount of income subject to tax and the number of allowances claimed on the Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate (W-4 or Form DE 4) submitted to your employer.

Regularly reviewing the amount of taxes withheld can help avoid having too much or too little tax taken from your paycheck. The proper withholding amount may help you avoid owing on tax day, and incurring penalties. Each year, life events that change your household income, family size, marital status, or the purchase of a new home can change the amount of taxes you owe. These events can also affect your withholding requirements.

Adjust Your Wage Withholding - Forms DE 4 and W-4

A general rule is to have the amount you withhold throughout the year match what you estimate your tax liability to be. The following are some tips that may help:

  • If you need to withhold more money from your paycheck for taxes, decrease the number of allowances you claim, or have additional money taken out.
  • If you need to withhold less money from your paycheck for taxes, increase the number of allowances you claim.
  • If you only need to adjust your state withholding allowance, go to the Employment Development Department (EDD) website and get Form DE 4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate.
  • If you need to adjust both your federal and state withholding allowances, go to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website and get Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate.

Once you determine which forms you need to fill out:

Step 1: Use the calculators below to determine the number of allowances you should claim.

Step 2: Complete the forms and give them to your employer to make the changes.

Available Resources

When accessing the below information, ensure you are using the most current version available.

EDD Forms (You will be directed to the EDD website.)

Form DE 4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate

Form DE 4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate (Calculator version)

IRS Forms & Calculator (You will be directed to the IRS website.)

Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate

W-4 Calculator

IRS Publication 505 (2017), Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax

Nonwage Withholding

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