How to Temporarily Stop Withholding from a Paycheck

You can stop withholding from your paycheck by completing a new Form W-4 -- "Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate." This will stop income tax from being withheld from your check, but not Social Security and Medicare taxes, which are mandatory and cannot be stopped by you or your employer. Some states impose other mandatory tax withholdings, such as state disability insurance. If you live in a state that has required deductions other than income tax, the mandatory withholdings may remain in effect.

Download Form W-4 from IRS website.

Complete lines 1, 2, 3 and 4 in the top section of the Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate. Don’t complete the personal allowances worksheet. That section is necessary only for calculating the number of allowances you wish to claim. When you stop withholding, no allowances are used because you have no income tax withholding to calculate.

Write “Exempt” on line 7 if both of the following statements accurately describe your situation:

-- For the previous tax year, you had a right to a refund of all federal income tax withheld because you had no tax liability.

-- For the current tax year you expect a refund of all federal income tax withheld because you expect to have no tax liability.

Sign the form and give it to your employer. If your state also imposes income tax, ask your employer if you need an additional form to stop state withholding. Most employers use your Form W-4 form to calculate state withholdings, so it is possible that another form isn’t necessary.


  • Complete a new Form W-4 when you’re ready to resume income tax withholdings. Your new form should reflect the number of allowances you’re claiming and your filing status so your employer can calculate the amount of federal and state income tax to deduct from your check. If you’re unsure how many allowances you should claim on the new form, use the IRS Withholding Calculator on the IRS website. This tool analyzes your income, number of dependents and filing status to select an appropriate number of allowances.

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About the Author

With a background in taxation and financial consulting, Alia Nikolakopulos has over a decade of experience resolving tax and finance issues. She is an IRS Enrolled Agent and has been a writer for these topics since 2010. Nikolakopulos is pursuing Bachelor of Science in accounting at the Metropolitan State University of Denver.