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Form W-4 Summary

The IRS issued the redesigned Form W-4 (Employee Withholding Certificate). The new form has replaced withholding allowances with a five step process for determining employee withholding.


Completing Federal Form W-4

  • Required Steps

Step 1 - Personal Information

Complete your basic information:

  • First Name, Middle Initial, and Last Name
  • Social Security Number
  • Mailing Address
  • City, State and Zip Code
  • Filing Status
Step 1 of the W-4 Form

Step 5 - Sign and Date

The form is not valid unless signed. Invalid forms require your employer calculate your withholding as “Single.”

Step 5 of the W-4 Form
  • Optional Steps

Step 2 - Multiple Jobs

Individuals may select one of the three options:

  1. Use the Tax Withholding Estimator
  2. Use the Multiple Jobs Worksheet on page 3 of the form
  3. Check box 2(c)

In this step, the form notes that individuals with multiple jobs should complete Form W-4 with the information from their highest-paying job to result in the most accurate withholding.

If you work more than one job, steps 3 through 4b should only be completed on one W-4 form.

Step 2 of the W-4 Form

Step 3 - Claim Dependents

Employees can:

  • Calculate child and dependent credits on the face of the form
  • Add other credits to the total
Step 3 of the W-4 Form

Step 4 - Other Adjustments

Step 4 (a):

  • Additional income that might not be subject to withholding, such as dividends or retirement income

Step 4 (b):

  • Itemized deductions like mortgage interest and charitable contributions that will exceed your standard deduction
  • Individuals complete the Deductions Worksheet on page 3 and enter the result in Step 4b

Step 4 (c):

  • Any additional taxes that you would like to withhold each pay period
  • Employees can enter the amount the Tax Withholding Estimator recommends
  • Employees can enter the amount from the Multiple Jobs Worksheet on page 3
  • Employees can enter an amount of extra withholding to get a refund or cover other income
Step 4 of the W-4 Form
  • Specific Circumstances

Instructions For Non-Resident Aliens (NRA)

The Form W-4 instructions advise a Non-Resident Alien to view Notice 1392 (Supplemental Form W-4 Instructions for Nonresident Aliens) before completing the Form W-4.

Claiming ‘Exempt’ From Federal Tax Withholding

An employee may claim exemption from withholding within each calendar year from January 1st through December 31st if:

  • They had no federal income tax liability in the previous tax year
  • They expect to have no federal income tax liability in the current calendar year

To claim exemption from withholding, an employee must:

  • Write “Exempt” on Form W-4 in the space below Step 4(c)
  • Complete Steps 1a, 1b and 5
  • NOT complete any other steps
  • FAQs

Who Should Fill Out the New Federal Form W-4?

The IRS is not requiring all employees to fill out a new Form W-4

Employees who must use the current calendar year Form W-4 are:

  • Employees with a hire date on or after January 1st
  • Employees who make withholding changes beginning in the current calendar year

What Happens If I Don't Submit the New Federal Form W-4?

  • If you are a current employee with a valid W-4 already on file, your withholding will continue based on your previously submitted form
  • If you are a new employee after January 1st and you do not submit a valid Form-W 4, taxes will be withheld as if you are a single filer with no adjustments (per IRS regulations)

Where Can I Locate the New Federal Form W-4?

You can locate the W-4 in the following places:

  • ISU Employee Self Service
    • If you are accessing Employee Self-Service on a non-Illinois State Network, Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) must be used. To update your Form W-4 on a non-Illinois State Network, both MFA and a VPN connection are required. Information about MFA is available here and information about VPN is available here. For assistance with MFA or VPN, contact the Technology Support Center at (309) 438-4357 or

    • Navigate to
    • Login using your ULID and password
    • Select the iPeople button
    • Select the Tax Forms box
    • Fill out the W-4 Tax Information tab
    • Select Submit
    • Enter your password to re-authenticate
    • Select Continue
  • Download the Printable Form W-4

How Do I Determine the Correct Withholding?

  • For maximum accuracy and privacy, use the Tax Withholding Estimator
  • For multiple jobs, you will generally be guided to enter an additional amount to withhold in Step 4(c)
    • While you will need to know the approximate amount of pay for each job, you will enter the additional amount of withholding in Step 4(c) on the Form W-4 for only one of the jobs
    • If pay for any of the jobs changes significantly, you will need to use the Tax Withholding Estimator again and furnish a new Form W-4 to change the amount in Step 4(c) to have accurate withholding

Does the New Federal Form Affect My State Withholding?

No. The Federal Form W-4 does not affect state tax withholding, though state tax laws and forms may change from time to time. At this time, the State of Illinois has not announced any changes to the current Illinois withholding form: Form IL-W-4.

How can I view my current withholding?

To review your current withholdings:

  • Login to
  • Select My Paychecks
  • Review the Tax Data section in the upper right corner of your latest paycheck

What If I have Additional Questions Or Need Further Assistance?

Illinois State University is not able to provide individual guidance on completion of the new Form W-4 or any related tax implications. Please visit the IRS Tax Withholding Estimator and/or the IRS 2020 W-4 Frequently Asked Questions for additional information. For further assistance, we recommend that you contact a tax professional.

  • Tools and Resources

The following can be used as resources to help with the completion of form W-4: