How Many Allowances Should I Claim? Everything You Need to Figure Out Form W-4


Confused about how many allowances to claim on your W-4? Here are some guidelines on the number of allowances you are allowed as a single or married person.

Adjusting the number of allowances claimed on your W-4 could affect the size of your paycheck before 2020. The number of allowances would depend on your situation. However, this allowances section of the W-4 has been removed. Filling out the form has become streamlined. 

Read on to learn more about how allowances worked before 2020 and what has changed on the W-4. We also talk about using the W-4 calculator.

What is a W-4 Allowance Form, and Why is it Important?

The IRS W-4 is a tax form an employer uses to determine the amount of federal income tax they need to withhold from your paycheck. When you are hired, you are asked to fill out a W-4 and provider information on the number of exemptions or allowances you plan to claim each payday.

You need to fill out this form accurately as any mistake could affect your tax bill or refund. Also, note that you need to submit a new W-4 form if your financial or personal situation changes in 2020. 

There are exemptions in the W-4 form. You’ll find the personal exemptions listed as they affect what your employer needs put aside each time you are paid. The more allowances you claim, the less tax is withheld from your paycheck. However, fewer allowances translate into a considerable withholding amount, which could lead to a refund. 

You were allowed to claim 0-3 allowances on the previous W-4 form, but this depends on your eligibility. 

How Much is an Allowance Worth?

Each withholding allowance claimed is equal to $4200 of your income for 2019. That’s the amount you are telling the IRS shouldn't be taxed on your income. Nonetheless, you should note that you still need to settle the tax liability by filing your tax return at the end of the tax year. That helps the IRS understand the amount of tax owed compared to the amount of tax you've paid throughout the year. 

What Has Changed in the 2020 W-4 Form?

The IRS seeks to make your work easier by reducing the W-4 complexity. That will help make the withholding process transparent and accurate. 

You’ll no longer have to deal with confusing or complicated worksheets trying to figure out which allowances you are eligible for with the redesigned 2020 W-4 form. The simpler new design features straightforward questions to ensure accuracy.

The 2020 W-4 form won’t use allowances, but you can complete other steps for withholding accuracy. If you happen to have a second job, you’ll need to complete the additional steps. Note that you’re not required to fill out a new W-4 in 2020 if you already have a form on file with your current employer as of 2019. 

How Many Allowances Should You Claim

It’s critical to understand the number of allowances you need to claim when filling out the W-4 form. Factors like the birth of a child, starting a new job, or marriage affect the number of allowances you can claim. Allowances are related to your tax brackets and standard deductions. You’ll notice that married couples get more allowances as it’s presumed they have more expenses to handle. 

Remember that you need to find a balance and have the right number of allowances as claiming too many allowances means you give the IRS some money when the tax year is over. Taking a few allowances allows you to get your money back as a tax return. 

Here are some examples and the number of allowances you are allowed to claim.

Should I Claim 0 or 1 If I am Married?

Claiming 0 when you are married gives the impression that the person with the income is the only earner in the family. However, if both of you earn an income and it reaches the 25% tax bracket, not enough tax is remitted when combined with your spouse’s income. That means you’ll owe the IRS some money. 

You can opt to claim 0 but have an extra amount withheld. All these options are available on the W-4 form. 

How Many Allowances Should I Claim if Married With 1 Kid?

If you are married with one child, you are allowed to claim three allowances. 

How Many Allowances Should I Claim if Married with 2 kids?

If you are married with two kids, you should claim three or more allowances as they fall under W-4 exemptions.

How Many Allowances Should I Claim if I’m Single?

If you are single and have one job, you can claim 1 allowance. There’s also the option of requesting 2 allowances if you are single and have one job. That allows you to get close to your break-even amount. However, you need to be cautious as this could result in some tax due. 

If you have more than one job and are single, you can claim 2 at the first job and 0 at the second job. Alternatively, you can split your allowances, which means claim one at the first job and another at the second job. 

How Many Allowances Should I Claim if I am Single With one Child?

You can claim 2 allowances if you are single with one child. That is if you are single and have one dependent who is your child. 

How Many Allowances Should I Claim if I am Single With Two Children?

As a single parent with two kids, you can claim more than 2 allowances if you only have one job. You can request an allowance for each child if you have more than two when you are single. 

However, if someone claims you as a dependent on his/her tax returns, you are limited to zero allowances. That withholds most taxes from your pay, which could result in a refund. 

Changing Your W-4 Allowances

Form W-4 is adjustable if you happen to change your financial or personal situation. You are allowed to review your W-4 allowances if you have a child, your spouse loses his/her job, you get a new job, or you start making more money through a second job or side hustle. 

In a situation where the withholding allowances reduce, you’ll need to resubmit a new W-4 with the lower withholding allowances within ten days of the change. You also need to update the W-4 form and give it to your employer if your circumstances change. Note that you can submit a new W-4 at any time of the year. 

What Happens if You Don’t Submit a W-4?

According to the IRS, if you fail to submit a W-4, the employer should withhold taxes at the highest rate. That amounts to the same withholding if you are single and not claiming W-4 exemptions. 


Although tax allowances were an essential aspect of helping people increase or reduce the size of their paychecks, that option was removed from the 2020 W-4 form. However, you can still adjust your paycheck by claiming extra deductions or withholding. 

The lesser the withholding, the bigger your payment. Claiming the right amount of deductions gives you enough money throughout the year, and you don’t owe the government a lot come tax season. 

If you aren't sure about the deductions you should claim or the amount your employer holds, call or visit one of our ATAX offices. We have experienced tax professionals ready to guide you through the W-4 form and any other tax issue you may have. 

Questions About Our Services?

Let us help you! Call us now at 1(866)999-2829

Send Us a Message