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What is the W-4 form?

The IRS 2019 W4 Form is also known as the ‘Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate’.  All new employees need to fill out the 2019 W4 Form since it determines how much federal (National) tax will be withheld from your paycheck and sent to the government.

The IRS, or Internal Revenue Service, is the group within the government that collects federal taxes. The government uses the information from the 2019 W4 Form to determine how much federal tax should be withheld from you throughout the year, instead of waiting to send you big bill at the end of the year.

F-1 students have special instructions on how to fill out the W-4.  Here is some text from the Internal Revenue Service Website:

Special Instructions for Form W-4 For Nonresident Alien Employees

A nonresident alien subject to wage withholding must give the employer a completed Form W-4 to enable the employer to figure how much income tax to withhold. In completing the form, nonresident aliens should use the following instructions instead of the instructions on Form W-4.

For Forms W-4 completed by nonresident alien employees performing services in the U.S.:

Check only "Single" marital status on line 3 (regardless of actual marital status).
Claim only one withholding allowance on line 5, unless you are a resident of Canada, Mexico, South Korea, a U.S. national, or a student or business apprentice from India.
Do not claim “Exempt” withholding status on line 7.
Write “Nonresident Alien” or “NRA” above the dotted line on line 6 of Form W-4.

For more information related to the special Form W-4 instructions for nonresident alien employees, including exceptions, refer to Notice 1392, Supplemental Form W-4 Instructions for Nonresident Aliens.