Tax Withholding Options for Those Who Are Married

The Internal Revenue Service operates a pay-as-you-go tax system; you must have money withheld from your paycheck each pay period to pay your tax obligation or pay quarterly taxes if self-employed. Married people have several options to make certain that the correct amount of income taxes are withheld. Changes can be made to filing status, the number of allowances or you can request that your employer withhold a fixed amount of additional money each week.

Claiming Married

Line 3 of Form W-4 allows you to select the rate you want to use for withholding. By choosing the box for married, you will have taxes withheld at the lower married rate. If your tax situation is straightforward, this is usually the correct option.

Higher Single Rate

You can also choose to have taxes withheld at the higher single rate by checking the appropriate box in line 3. Some married people find that they are under-withheld by claiming the married rate, such as when both spouses work, and choose to have taxes withheld at the higher rate for single people.


Withholding allowances allow you to tailor income tax withholding for your situation. The Personal Allowance Worksheet and the Deductions and Adjustments Worksheet on Form W-4 will calculate how many allowances you should claim. The more allowances you claim, the lower the tax withholding from each paycheck.

Additional Amount Withheld

Form W-4, line 6, provides a place to indicate any additional income taxes you wish to have withheld from each paycheck. The entry here is for a dollar amount and not a number of allowances. If you know that you will owe a certain amount of additional taxes in a year to cover taxable income, such as from a 401(k) distribution or interest income, you can specify a per-paycheck amount to offset that tax bill.

Estimated Taxes

If you have self-employment income, or do not have enough income taxes withheld from your paycheck, you may need to pay estimated taxes quarterly. Use Form 1040-ES for these payments. You can make the payments more often if it is easier for you, as long as you have paid the required amount by the end of each quarter.

Changing Withholding

If your tax filing situation changes, for example, if your marital status changes, you have children or your tax deductions change, you can file a new W-4 at any time. Complete a new form and give it to your company's payroll department.