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How to Fill Out a W4 for a Child

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Filling out a W-4 for an employer is something children need to learn about as soon as they are hired. This is a lifelong skill and an excellent teaching opportunity for the child to learn about types of taxes and how and why he plays an important part in America's economy. Children younger than 19 and students younger than 24 are usually claimed as dependents on their parents' income taxes. Therefore, it is relatively simple to fill out a W-4 for a child who is going to have a job.

Print the child's name and address in the appropriate boxes of the W-4 form. In Box 2, neatly print the child's Social Security number.

Check the first box in No. 3 if the child is single. If your child's name is different from the one shown on his Social Security card, check box 4.

Write 0 in boxes 5 and 6. If your child will make less than $5,450 a year from employment and less than $900 in investment income, he probably will be exempt from paying income taxes. Write "Exempt" in box 7.

Have your child sign and date the appropriate lines and return the form to his employer. The employer will use the information on the W-4 to calculate what, if any, income tax will need to be withheld.


Encourage your child to fill out his own W-4 with input from you. This will provide an excellent topic of conversation to discuss taxes and how to succeed as an employee. Most employers are required by law to have W-4s on file for their employees. The W-4 provides the necessary information to properly calculate taxes on earnings for their employees.


Even after filing a W-4 as exempt, Social Security and Medicare will still be deducted from your child's earnings. These funds will be credited to his account and he will begin to have a work history. If you are not sure how much your child will earn, do not use "Exempt." It is better to have income tax withheld and file a return to get a tax refund than to pay taxes at a later date.