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Filling Out the Form W-4

The Form W-4 is used by PSU to determine the correct federal and state income tax to withhold from your pay. A complete form is required for each employee who receives pay from the University according to the Internal Revenue laws of the United States. The information requested under "Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate" must be provided to the University.

Different Requirements Depending on Employee Status

US Citizens and employees with Resident Alien or Substantial Presence Status will find detailed guidance on Form W-4 on the factors to consider when completing the Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate, including when and if individuals may claim exemption from withholding.

The Substantially Present status is based upon a test as outlined below that reflects each person's individual situation rather than in accordance with Non-Resident Alien restrictions outlined below. If you meet the test for Substantially Present you will need to review procedures for filing a tax return as well—Refer to IRS Publication 17—Your Federal Income Tax. Additional information regarding the test to determine Substantial Presence is located in the IRS Publication 519—US Tax Guide for Aliens.

Restrictions for completing the Form W-4:

  1. Check "Single" on line 3 regardless of your marital status.
  2. Claim "1" allowance on line 5 (see below for exceptions).
  3. You may NOT claim "Exempt" on line 7.
  4. You must write "Non-Resident Alien" or "NRA" above the dotted line in line 6.

Non-Resident Alien (NRA) employees at the University must adhere to the following restrictions when filing out the Form W-4. Failure to comply with these restrictions can result in Internal Revenue Service penalties and fines. Detailed instructions are found under the IRS Publication 519—US Tax Guide for Aliens.

If you are a resident of Canada, Mexico, or South Korea, you may claim more than one allowance on line 5. Students from India may claim an allowance for an accompanying spouse and dependent children who are US citizens or residents. US Nationals of American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands may also claim allowances for dependents.

Changing Withholdings

The Form W-4 may be updated by completing a new form whenever there is a change in your individual tax situation and you would like your withholdings to reflect this. Changes may include events such as marriage, divorce, adding a new dependent, increase or decrease in FTE, and so on. Please note that if you submit a Form W-4 reflecting an exemption from withholding, you must complete a new request for this exemption by February 10th of each year, as the exemption expires each year in February.

If you wish to withhold additional amounts for Federal and/or State, you may do so by clearly writing the dollar amount that you wish deducted, on line 6, and specify whether it is for Federal only, State only, or the amount for each.

You may also refer to the IRS Federal Tax Calculator and the Oregon Department of Revenue Tax Calculator for more guidance on tax withholding.