How to Calculate W-4 Exemptions for Alimony

How to Calculate W-4 Exemptions for Alimony
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A W-4 is a tax form that your employer uses to determine how much of your earnings it must withhold for taxes. A higher number of allowances on a W-4 corresponds to lower tax withholding, which means you get to keep more of the money you earn. If you pay alimony, you can use the amounts you pay to reduce your tax withholding. You will need to calculate the allowances for alimony payments on the Deductions and Adjustments worksheet attached to your W-4 form.


  • If you have more than one job, or both you and your spouse are employed, you will need to enter the amount shown on line 10 of the Deductions and Adjustments worksheet on line 1 of the Two Earners/Multiple Jobs worksheet instead of on the W-4 certification.

Alimony and Deductions

Add alimony payments you made during the tax year to your other itemized deductions, such as student loan interest or deductible IRA contributions. Enter your total itemized deductions on line 1 of the Deductions and Adjustments worksheet. Enter the standard deduction that applies to your tax filing status on line 2 of the worksheet. A chart showing standard deduction amounts for joint, head of household and single filers can be found on this worksheet.

Subtract the amount you entered on line 2 from your itemized deductions on line one. If the result is zero or a negative number, enter $0 on line 3 of the worksheet. Enter any additional standard deduction or adjustment for which you qualify under IRS Publication 919 on line 4 of the worksheet. Add this amount to line 3 and enter the sum on line 5.

Working With Your Non-Wage Income

Enter your non-wage income, such as investment interest or dividends, on line 6 and subtract this amount from the number you entered on line 5. Enter the result on line 7 of the worksheet. If the result is zero or less, enter $0. Divide the amount on line 7 by $4,150 in keeping with the current IRS standards, and drop any amount less than 1. For example, if the result is 2.33, use 2. Enter this number on line 8 of the worksheet.

Completing Your Calculations

Add the amount on line 8 to the number of exemptions on line H of the Personal Allowances worksheet, which is attached to your W-4 form. Enter this amount on line 10 of the Deductions and Adjustment worksheet, and on line 5 of your W-4 certification. This is the number of allowances your employer will use for determining tax withholding. Keep in mind that, although using alimony payments to reduce your tax withholding can put more money in your pocket each pay period, you may owe income tax at the end of the year if you do not calculate your withholding allowances correctly.