Tax Withholding

When a company withholds money from an employee's gross salary and pays it directly to the government, this is referred to as withholding tax. Taxes are withheld from the paychecks of the great majority of Americans who are working. The amount withheld can be used as a credit against any income taxes the employee owes for the calendar year. Nonresident aliens must withhold taxes on their earned income as well as other types of income, like interest and dividends from the securities of US-based corporations they own.

Understanding Withholding Tax

The U.S. government uses tax withholding to uphold its pay-as-you-go (or pay-as-you-earn) income tax structure. Instead of attempting to collect income tax after earnings are paid, this entails taxing people when their income is earned.

This is how it goes. When an employee gets paid, their employer deducts a certain amount from their pay as income tax. The Internal Revenue Service then receives this payment from the employer (IRS). The amount deducted is shown on the employee's pay stub, and Form W-2: Wage and Tax Statement contains the annual total of deductions. Every year, employers provide W-2 forms to employees so they can submit their yearly income tax returns.

The quantity subtracted is determined by a number of variables. The amount an employee makes, filing status, any withholding allowances claimed by the employee, and whether the employee requests that additional income be withheld are among the factors taken into account. Any excess is, if justified, returned to the employee by the IRS as a tax refund.

Special Considerations

The majority of U.S. states also impose state income taxes on its citizens and use tax withholding procedures to do so. States make use of both their own worksheets and the IRS W-4 Form.

Residents of nine states are exempt from paying income tax. These are Wyoming, South Dakota, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Alaska. Only high earners on capital gains are subject to withholding tax for residents of Washington. Only dividend and interest income is subject to income taxation in New Hampshire.

Nonetheless, despite voting to gradually abolish this practice by 2027, New Hampshire still taxes dividends and investment income.

Types Of Withholding Taxes

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) uses both U.S. resident and nonresident withholding taxes to make sure that the appropriate amount of tax is withheld in certain circumstances.

Below, we provide more information about each.

U.S. Resident Withholding Tax

Every employer in the US is required to withhold the first and most frequently mentioned withholding tax, which is on the personal income of US citizens. The withholding tax is now collected by employers, who then pay it directly to the government. Employees are then responsible for paying the balance when they file their annual tax returns in April.

When too much tax is withheld, a tax refund is issued. But, if insufficient tax was withheld, the person would be in debt to the IRS.

Nonresident Withholding tax

To make sure that the correct taxes are paid on income derived from sources within the United States, the other type of withholding tax is imposed against nonresident immigrants. A nonresident alien is a person who was born abroad and hasn't obtained a green card or satisfied the requirements for significant presence. If they conduct a trade or business in the United States during the year, all nonresident aliens must file Form 1040-NR.

To determine when you should be paying U.S. taxes and which deductions you might be able to claim if you are a nonresident alien, you can use the normal IRS deduction and exemption tables.


  • Withholding tax refers to the sum that an employer deducts from an employee's paycheck as income tax.
  • Employers make withholding tax payments to the IRS on behalf of the employee.
  • The amount collected is deducted from the employee's yearly income tax obligation as a credit.
  • The employee receives a tax refund if too much money is withheld; if not enough, the employee can be required to make a payment to the IRS.
  • Both U.S. residents and nonresidents who receive income from domestic sources have their withholding tax withheld.
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