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The Guy Behind the Tree
The Guy Behind the Tree, Experienced Investor & Financier
Category: Tax
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If I have zero exemptions on my W-4 will I get a tax return?

Customer Question

I put zero exemptions down on my W-2 form do I get a refund at the end of the year or will I have to pay taxes? If you put zero down for exemption don''t they take the maximum taxes out of your payroll check?

Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Tax
Expert:  The Guy Behind the Tree replied 9 years ago.
You will probably get a refund.

You can estimate this yourself if you had a calculator that took these factors into consideration. It does depend on how many allowances you actually stated on your W-4 (zero) and how many you "should" have stated to "break even" at the end of the year.

You can use the IRS calculator provided for this purpose, here:,,id=96196,00.html

Since the tax bracket and tax amounts will depend on your estimated income and deductions, this is the only reliable way to estimate how much you should have asked to have withheld. The difference between the "should" and the "did" is a good proxy for the amount of your refund.
Customer: replied 9 years ago.

Reply to The Guy Behind the Tree's Post: I don't have any kids and I only make $26,000 dollars a year so with zero exemptions taking from my payroll I sure that I would get a refund back at the end of the year. It doesn't makes since if you are paying the full amount of taxes each year and you still owe money.

Expert:  The Guy Behind the Tree replied 9 years ago.
I understand. The calculator web site that I referenced should be able to tell you whether or not zero, one or two allowances will get you close to "break even" on your withholding.

However, you will be in the 15% tax bracket (single and $26,000 per year). Over the course of the year, without considering your itemized deductions, your tax liability will be about $3,900. That's $325 per month that "should" be withheld. Your actual amount could be less if you have substantial itemized deductions.

Choose the number of allowances that get you closest - it could well be zero!