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Publication 929

Withholding From Wages(p8)

Employers generally withhold federal income tax, social security tax, and Medicare tax from an employee's wages. If the employee claims exemption from withholding on Form W-4, the employer will not withhold federal income tax. The exemption from withholding does not apply to social security and Medicare taxes.

Conditions for exemption from withholding.(p8)

An employee can claim exemption from withholding for 2015 only if he or she meets both of the following conditions.
  1. For 2014, the employee had a right to a refund of all federal income tax withheld because he or she had no tax liability.
  2. For 2015, the employee expects a refund of all federal income tax withheld because he or she expects to have no tax liability.


An employee who is a dependent ordinarily cannot claim exemption from withholding if both of the following are true.
An employee may be able to claim exemption from withholding even if the employee is a dependent, if the employee:
  1. Is age 65 or older,
  2. Is blind, or
  3. Will claim on his or her 2015 tax return:
    1. Adjustments to income,
    2. Tax credits, or
    3. Itemized deductions.
The above exceptions do not apply to supplemental wages greater than $1,000,000. For more information, see Exemption From Withholding in chapter 1 of Publication 505.


Guy is 17 and a student. During the summer he works part time at a grocery store. He expects to earn about $1,200 this year. He also worked at the store last summer and received a refund of all his withheld income tax because he did not have a tax liability. The only other income he expects during the year is $375 interest on a savings account. He expects that his parents will be able to claim him as a dependent on their tax return. He is not blind and will not claim adjustments to income, itemized deductions, a higher standard deduction, or tax credits on his return.
Guy cannot claim exemption from withholding when he fills out Form W-4 because his parents will be able to claim him as a dependent, his gross income will be more than $1,050 (the 2015 minimum standard deduction amount) and his unearned income will be more than $350.

Claiming exemption from withholding.(p8)

To claim exemption from withholding, an employee must enter "Exempt" in the space provided on Form W-4, line 7. The employee must complete the rest of the form, as explained in the form instructions, and give it to his or her employer.

Renewing an exemption from withholding.(p8)

An exemption from withholding is good for only one year. An employee must file a new Form W-4 by February 15 each year to continue the exemption.