How to Stop Federal Withholding

How to Stop Federal Withholding
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The federal government requires that employers withhold certain federal taxes from employees’ income. This includes federal income tax, and Social Security and Medicare taxes; the latter two are also called FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) taxes. These deductions are statutory and can be difficult to stop. But under certain circumstances, you can stop them.

Claim “exempt” status on your W-4 form to stop your federal income tax deduction. According to the 2010 Form W-4 , you can claim exemption from withholding for 2010 under the following circumstances: last year you were entitled to a refund of all your federal income tax withheld because you had no tax liability and this year you anticipate a full refund because you expect no tax liability. If you qualify for exempt status, complete Line 7 of the W-4 and submit to your employer.

Claim more dependents. In general, the more dependents you claim, the less federal income tax you pay. Depending on your situation, claiming enough dependents can result in no federal income tax withheld from your paycheck. If you are claiming more dependents, ensure that you can claim them on your tax return. Otherwise, you may end up owing the IRS.

Keep in mind that typically employees cannot stop FICA withholding. U.S. citizens and resident aliens are required to pay both Medicare and Social Security taxes on wages. However, non-immigrants and non-resident aliens with A-visas, D-visas, F-visas, J-visas, M-visas, Q-visas, G-visas and H-visas are exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes.


  • You can estimate what your withholding will be by using the IRS Circular E. Use the wage bracket method or the percentage method to determine what your federal income tax would be based on your filing status, income, and dependents. Use the IRS withholding calculator if you want to know if enough federal income taxes are being withheld from your paycheck. Have your paycheck stub handy when using the calculator.