I recently did my W4 and the number of allowances I had is 2, but on the state withholding form, since the options were kind of different, I had 0 allowances to claim. Do I have to stay consistent for number of allowances I have for both state and federal withholding?

3 Answers 3


You can basically put in there whatever you want, in each one. It only defines how much taxes you prepay during the year.

The calculation is supposed to help you come up with a good estimate, but it’s use is not mandatory in any way.

If you estimate too low, the IRS will charge you interest on the missed tax; if you overpaid, it’s your own bad luck (free loan to the government). Otherwise nobody cares.

  • I agree with this answer. For those that really don't want to loan the government money throughout the year and don't want to go through the complicated withholding worksheet is to claim 99 allowances, then pay a fixed amount of taxes each pay period to the State and Feds. Such a technique only works easily if you have a regular/steady income. You might have to supplement this technique with quarterly payments for external (from a W-2 source) income.
    – rocketman
    Jan 7, 2018 at 5:51
  • IRS charges interest on the missed tax? I thought if you owe any taxes, you would just pay it back in the end after you file a tax return. Jan 8, 2018 at 0:32
  • 1
    @夢のの夢 , if you paid less than 90% of what you owe (and less than you paid the previous year), the will charge you interest on it. and not exactly market rates...
    – Aganju
    Jan 8, 2018 at 1:20
  • The information in this answer is correct, but it doesn't answer the question at all. The question is whether he can have a different number of withholding allowances for state and federal.
    – prl
    Jan 8, 2018 at 9:40
  • he can have whatever he wants in each
    – Aganju
    Jan 8, 2018 at 12:49

No, you do not have to have the same number of withholding allowances for state and federal taxes. Neither the state nor federal tax departments wil know or care, as long as a suitable amount of tax is withheld.

However, your payroll department needs to know what you want. Some states have their own form similar to W-4, while some states use the federal form. In the latter case, your payroll department will typically use the same information for both, unless you make it clear that you want them to be different. You may need to check with your payroll department to find out what their process is for setting them differently.


No, you don't need to have the same number on both. You don't say what state you live in, but in general: Follow the instructions on each form. The rules are different. (Or may be, depending on your state.) I have different numbers on mine too.

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