June 02, 2023

How to Fill Out Form W4 if Married And Both Work? The Ultimate Guide in 2023

Personal Taxes

The Form W4 is an essential tax form that determines how much of an employee’s monthly salary an employer withholds to pay for payroll and other taxes. The information you should provide on this form depends on your marital status, the number of jobs you have, and other parameters.

So figuring out how to fill out Form W4 if you’re married and both work might seem daunting if you’ve never gone through this process before, but once you get into the swing of things, the task becomes straightforward.

This guide will walk you through the entire tax form, top to bottom, and show you how to fill out Form W4.

A Quick Look at Form W4

A Quick Look at Form W4

Along with Form W2, Employee’s Withholding Certificate or Form W4 is one the most common tax forms US taxpayers encounter. You’re required to fill out this form whenever you start a new job and update it at least once per year.

You’ll have to submit a new Form W4 to your employer if: 

  • You get a raise during the year.
  • You get married or divorced.
  • You want to claim a standard deduction.
  • You get a child and want to claim them as a dependent.

Your taxable income and how much you’ll pay for federal taxes depends on the information on Form W4 because your employer will use it to determine the tax withholding amount.

You must consult with your spouse when filling out this tax form to avoid double deductions and other potentially complex tax issues.

Filling Out Form W4

Filling Out Form W4

The filing status you and your spouse choose won’t just affect how you’ll fill out Form W4 because the information on Form 1040 you’ll have to fill out when preparing taxes will also depend on your filing status.

Most married couples opt to file a joint return due to tax incentives the IRS offers to taxpayers who choose this filing status. Optionally you can select married filing separately filing status if:

  • One partner earns considerably more than the other.
  • You or your spouse want to claim itemized deductions.
  • Annual medical expenses exceed 7.5% of your or your spouse’s gross yearly income.

You can start filling out Form W4 once you determine which filing status is more advantageous for you. The IRS allows taxpayers to choose the married filing jointly status even if they were married on the last day of the year.

Personal Information And Filing Status

Form W4 can be completed in four steps and two sub-steps if necessary. The first step is to provide personal information, including your first name and initial, last name, address, city or town, state, and ZIP code.

You’ll also have to enter your Social Security number in the appropriate box and select your filing status. The document offers the following filing status options:

  • Single or married filing separately
  • Married filing jointly or Qualifying surviving spouse
  • Head of household

Select the second checkbox unless you and your spouse agree to file taxes separately.

Selecting The Number of Jobs

Selecting The Number of Jobs

You can skip the second step if you’re married but opt to file taxes separately. However, you must complete this step if you currently have more than one job or if your filing status is married, filing jointly.

In most cases, you should choose option b) Use the Multiple Jobs Worksheet and enter the result in Step 4(c).

Selecting option (c) of Step 2 is advisable if you and your spouse have two jobs and the lower-paying job is over half the pay of the higher-paying job.

Claiming Dependents and Calculating Tax Withholding

Only one spouse can claim dependents on Form W4. Hence, you can skip Step 3 if your spouse already claimed your children or any other person you support on their Form W4. The same applies to standard deductions.

If you’d like to claim dependents on Form W4, you’ll have to multiply the number of qualifying children by $2,000 and then multiply the number of qualifying relatives by $500. Combine these two amounts and enter the resulting sum at the bottom section of Step 3.

Step 4 of Form W4 lets you withhold tax from other income you’ll earn during the year, such as interest, retirement, or dividends. You can enter the full amount of such income in the 4(a) field.

The standard deduction for 2023 for taxpayers with Married filing jointly filing status is $27,700. Enter this amount in the 4(b) field and proceed to enter any other tax you want to be withheld from your monthly salary into the 4(c) field.

Multiple Job Worksheet

Scroll down to page three of Form W4 and carefully read the instructions at the top.

You won’t have to complete multiple job worksheet on each Form W4 if you and your spouse hold two or more jobs.

Couples with Two Jobs

Here’s how to complete the multiple job worksheet if you’re married and have two jobs.

  • Step 1 – Scroll down to page 4 of Form W4 and find Married Filing Jointly or Qualifying Surviving Spouse table.
  • Step 2 – Use the higher-paying and lower-paying job amounts to determine the appropriate amount and enter it on Line 1 Step 2(b).
  • Step 3 – Skip the three jobs section and go to Line 3 of Step 2(b) to enter the number of pay periods. This number will depend on the higher-paying job payment frequency. Enter 52 if the job pays weekly, 26 for biweekly, or 12 for monthly payments.
  • Step 4 – Divide the numbers from Lines 1 and 3 and enter the result in the field on Line 4 of Step 2(b) and Step 4(c).

For instance, if your annual salary is $60,000 and your spouse earns $40,000, the corresponding amount in the multiple jobs worksheet will be $3,740. The withholding amount will be $311.6 if the higher-paying job is paid monthly or $143.8 for biweekly payments.

Couples with Three or More Jobs

Skip Line 1 of the multiple job worksheet section and read the instructions on Line 2 if you and your spouse currently hold three jobs.

Start by determining the annual amount you receive from the highest paying and the second highest paying jobs.

Use these amounts to determine the appropriate value in the Married Filing Jointly or Qualifying Surviving Spouse table and enter it into the field on Line 2(a).

Add the income amounts of the highest paying and second highest paying jobs. Use the resulting sum as the highest-paying job amount and the least-paying job of the three jobs you currently hold to determine the appropriate value for Line 2(b).

Add Line 2(a) and Line 2(b) values to determine the Line 2(c) value. Enter the payment frequency of the highest paying job (12, 26, or 52) on Line 3 and then divide the Line 2(c) value with the appropriate payment frequency.

Use the result to fill out Line 4 of Step 2(b) and Step 4(c).

Couples with more than three jobs can use Tax Withholding Estimator on the IRS website or consult a tax professional to determine the amount their employers should withhold from their salary.

Deductions Worksheet

Claiming itemized deductions is only an option if you’re married but filing your taxes separately. You’ll have to opt for a standard deduction if you’re filing a joint return.

Itemizing deductions is only advisable if the amount you can claim is higher than the standard deduction for married filing jointly filing status.

Remember that only one spouse can claim a deduction if you file a joint return.

The Deduction Worksheet on page 4 of Form W2 lets you choose if you want to claim a standard deduction or itemize deductions, but keep in mind that your ability to do so will depend on your filing status.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Fill Out Form W4 if I Also Work as a Contractor?

If you or your spouse work as an independent contractor while holding regular jobs, you should only use your W4 jobs to determine the tax withholding amount.

Can I Withhold Self-Employment Taxes from My Salary?

Form W4 allows you or your spouse to withhold self-employment taxes from your salaries by entering the self-employment income on Step 4(a) and calculating the tax amount.

Do I Have to Update Information on My Form W4 if My Spouse Changes Their Job?

Your financial situation will change if your spouse changes or loses their job, which is why you’ll have to submit a new Form W4 to your employer.

Which Spouse Should Claim Deductions and Dependents if We’re Married and Both Work?

Generally, the spouse with a higher annual income should claim deductions and dependents.

The Importance of Filling Out Form W4 Correctly

Your employer will pay less taxes to the federal government if you file Form W4 incorrectly. As a result, you’ll generate a tax debt you’ll have to settle to avoid an IRS audit and paying penalties.

Calculating the withholding amount with W4’s multiple job worksheet is easy, so you’re unlikely to make a mistake. Even so, you should check all information you provide on this form and ensure it is accurate before submitting it to your employer.


Logan Allec, CPA

Logan is a practicing CPA and founder of Choice Tax Relief and Money Done Right. After spending nearly a decade in the corporate world helping big businesses save money, he launched his blog with the goal of helping everyday Americans earn, save, and invest more money. Learn more about Logan.

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