Skip to main content

Do I have to report the same number of exemptions on my tax return as I enter on my W-4?

No. What you enter on your Form W-4 Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate are withholding allowances, not exemptions. An exemption is allowed on your tax return for yourself, your spouse (if married filing jointly) and qualifying dependents.

Each exemption merits a withholding allowance on the Form W-4. However, there are two more worksheets that may affect the final number of allowances and under some circumstances, you get more allowances than you have exemptions. Some things that will be on your tax return, such as itemized deductions, tax credits and losses, and total number of allowances. Some circumstances reduce the number of allowances, such as non-wage income, having two jobs or having two earners in the family. For a more detailed discussion of withholding allowances, refer to IRS Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax.