How to Change Federal Withholding

by Gwen Wark ; Updated July 27, 2017

Federal withholding is an amount of money that is held from a paycheck, pension disbursement or other source of income. This amount is then applied toward the income tax of the payee. Withholding too little can cause the taxpayer to owe taxes back at the end of the year; withholding too much causes the disbursement amount of the paycheck or payment to be smaller than necessary. Changing withholding is as simple as filling out IRS Form W-4.

Step 1

Obtain a copy of IRS Form W-4. It is available at (see Additional Resources) or by telephoning (800) 829-1040.

Step 2

Follow the instructions and complete form W-4. To withhold less, either decrease the number of allowances on line 5 or decrease the additional amount being held on line 6. To withhold more, increase the number of allowances on line 5 or increase the additional amount held on line 6.

Step 3

Sign and date your W-4, and then return it to your employer. Federal law no longer mandates that W-4 forms be sent to the IRS, but they must be available for inspection if necessary.

About the Author

Gwen Wark is a freelance writer working from London, Dublin, and New York. She has been a published writer since 1998 with works appearing in both university and local publications. Her current writing projects include SEO, web copy, print and advertising features. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in history from Rutgers University.