How to Change the California Withholding Allowance

California changed its tax-withholding amounts in 2009. The increase applies to withholding rates only; the income tax rates did not increase. While the extra withholding may not seem like much -- $17.59 per month for a single person making $51,000 per year -- over the course of a year, the extra withholding can become expensive. Adjusting your state withholding is a way to limit the amount of the interest-free loan that the state makes you give.

Open the Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate (Form DE 4) at (see References).

Complete Worksheet A, Regular Withholding Allowances, to determine the number of allowances you should claim.

Enter the information into Worksheet B, Estimated Deductions, if you intend to itemize your deductions.

Fill out Worksheet C, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax, to estimate the amount of tax your employer should withhold from your pay.

Enter your personal information such as name, address and Social Security number into Form DE 4. Enter the number of allowances you are claiming on Line 1. Add the totals from Worksheets A and B to calculate your allowances. Check the box for your filing status.

Sign and date the DE 4 form. Print the form and give it to your employer.


  • You do not have to claim the same number of allowances on your California DE 4 that you claim on your Internal Revenue Service Form W-4. Raising the number of allowances you claim lowers your withholding amount. Lowering your number of allowances raises your withholding amount.


  • Claiming too many allowances might leave you owing California income tax when you file your return. If you claim 11 or more allowances or an exemption from withholding, your employer must send the Franchise Tax Board a copy of your DE 4.