Office of Payrol Administration

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Uncle Sam
Employee Withholding Allowance Certificates
Every employee is required to complete two Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificates, one for the federal government and one for state and local governments. The marital status and number of allowances you claim on these certificates determines the amount of taxes that are withheld from your pay.

The Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificates are the W-4 filed with the Internal Revenue Service and the IT-2104 filed with the NY State Department of Taxation and Finance.

Employees can check their allowances and submit Withholding Allowance Certificates electronically through NYCAPS Employee Self Service in most cases.

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Determining Withholding Allowances
Ideally, employees should adjust withholding allowances so that neither the employee nor the taxing authority owes the other a balance at the end of the tax year. To accomplish this, you may adjust the number of allowances based on:

  • Income from other jobs
  • Qualifying home mortgage interest
  • Charitable contributions
  • State and local taxes (except sales tax)
  • Medical expenses

There is also an optional entry on both certificates that permits you to have more money withheld from your pay to reduce the amount of taxes you'll owe at the end of the year. The IRS and NYS provide detailed instructions and worksheets for determining the appropriate number of withholding allowances.

Visit the IRS Web site
Visit the New York State Web site, Tax Information section

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Claiming More Than 10 Federal and 14 State Allowances
You may file withholding certificates with as many allowances as are justified by your circumstances. If you claim more than 10 withholding allowances on your W-4 or more than 14 allowances on your IT-2104 form, you must complete the Withholding Certificate Affirmation.

In addition to the Withholding Certificate Affirmation you may, if you wish, supply supporting documentation. This may consist of:

  • The prior year's tax returns
  • Proof of qualifying home mortgage interest
  • Charitable contributions
  • State and local taxes (but not sales tax)
  • Medical expenses as stipulated in IRS guidelines
  • Number of dependents
  • Other qualifying miscellaneous deductions
  • A letter from you to the agency stating your circumstances

Copies of the unaltered withholding certificate and signed, unaltered affirmation along with copies of any supporting documentation you choose to provide, will be sent to OPA.

OPA forwards the documents to the IRS or NYS Dept. of Taxation and Finance as appropriate. In some cases, the IRS or NYS may instruct the City of New York to change your number of withholding allowances or marital status through Lock-in Letters.

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Filing Withholding Allowances
You are required to file withholding certificates when you begin employment with the City of New York or transfer to another agency. You may also file new forms whenever your tax situation changes; for instance:

  • When your marital status or number of dependents change
  • When you owe tax or receive a large refund when you file your personal income tax return
  • When you have significantly more or less income from another job
  • When your itemized deductions changes

The IRS and NYS recommend that you review your withholding allowance every year because changes in tax law may affect your tax even if other factors remain constant.

Your agency's Personnel Office has the necessary forms, including instructions and worksheets. You may also access the forms at the IRS or New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Web sites. They must be filed with your employer.

Download the 2016 W-4 Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate Form from the IRS Web site

Download the 2016 IT-2104 Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate Form from New York State

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Changing Withholding Allowances
There may be valid reasons for changing your withholding allowances several times a year. If you submit four or more changes in a calendar year, your agency will send the forms to OPA, which may forward them to the IRS or NYS for review.

In some cases the IRS or NYS may instruct the City of New York in writing, in the form of a Lock-in Letter, to implement a prescribed number of withholding allowances and a particular marital status for an employee.

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Lock-In Letters
If the IRS or NYS instructs the City to implement a prescribed number of withholding allowances or a particular marital status for you via a Lock-in Letter, OPA will change your exemptions or marital status and send the original letter to your agency, which will give a copy to you. Your exemptions or marital status are then "locked-in" until further changes are received from the IRS or NYS.

Subsequent changes initiated by you will be made only if you submit a new form where you are not claiming exempt status or where the number of allowances is equal to or fewer than the number in the Lock-in Letter.

If you receive a Lock-in Letter and believe that your circumstances justify additional allowances or full exemption, you should contact the IRS or NYS directly.

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Federal and State Withholding Exemptions
The great majority of employees of the City of New York are required to have taxes withheld; however, certain situations exist that entitle an employee to be fully tax exempt.

No employees, including students, are automatically exempt from tax liability. To claim exempt status, you must meet certain conditions and submit a new certificate and signed Withholding Certificate Affirmation each year. You cannot claim exemption from federal withholding taxes for 2015:

  • If your income exceeds $1,050 and includes more than $350 of unearned income (interest and dividends), and
  • Another person can claim you as a dependent on his or her tax return.

If you are exempt from federal withholding taxes, you must certify on the W-4 form that you meet both of the following conditions:

  • Last year you had a right to a refund of ALL federal income tax withholding because you had no tax liability, and
  • This year you expect a refund of ALL federal income tax withheld because you expect to have no tax liability.

To claim exemption from New York State and City withholding taxes in 2015, you must be able to certify the following conditions in writing:

  • You are under age 18, a full-time student under age 25, OR over age 65, and
  • You had no New York income tax liability for 2014, and
  • You do not expect to have a New York income tax liability in 2015.

If you are a dependent who is under 18 or a full-time student, you may owe tax if your federally adjusted gross income plus your New York State additions is more than $4,000.

However, if you are single and can be claimed as a dependent on another person's federal return, you must file a New York State return if your federal adjusted gross income plus your New York additions is more than $3,000.

If you meet the criteria for state exemption, you would file an IT-2104-E Certificate of Exemption from Withholding instead of the IT-2104 form.

Forms claiming full exemption from withholding expire each year. If your exempt status continues, you need to submit new forms annually. You must file a new W-4 form by February 16 to continue to claim full exemption from federal taxes and/or a new IT-2104-E form by April 30 to continue to claim full exemption from state and city taxes. You must submit the Withholding Certificate Affirmation with your withholding certificate each year.

If you do not submit new forms to your agency to continue to claim full exemption, taxes will be withheld as if you were single with zero allowances until new acceptable forms are submitted.

Download the 2016 IT-2104E Certificate of Exemption from Withholding Form from New York State

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Resident and Non-Resident Aliens
Resident aliens of the United States are taxed in the same manner as are US citizens. Non-resident aliens are taxed in the same manner as are US citizens. In addition, you are required to complete W-4 forms to avoid under-withholding by:

  • Not claiming exemption from income tax withholding
  • Requesting withholding as if you are single, regardless of your actual marital status
  • Claiming only one exemption (allowance)
  • Writing "nonresident alien" or "NRA" above the dotted line on line 6 of the W-4 form. 

Nonresident aliens of Canada, Mexico, and Korea may claim more than one allowance. For exceptions to these rules, see the IRS Web site.

See IRS Pub. 519 US Tax Guide for Aliens (PDF)
See IRS Pub. 515 Tax Withholding, Nonresident Aliens (PDF)
See IRS Notice 1392 Supplemental Form W-4 Instructions For Nonresident Aliens (PDF)
Download IRS Form 8233 Nonresident Withholding Exemption

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Where Withholding Certificates are Filed
City agencies keep your withholding certificates and any supporting documentation you provide in your personnel file. In some instances, such as filings for excessive allowances and full exemption, copies of the forms and documentation are forwarded to OPA. OPA sends this information to the Internal Revenue Service or the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance as appropriate.

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Unsigned or Unfiled Withholding Certificates
The City of New York expects each employee to act responsibly in his or her obligation to have taxes accurately withheld. If you submit an invalid withholding form that includes unauthorized changes or additions, is not complete, or is not signed, you will be advised that you must submit a valid form. If you do not submit a valid form, your taxes will be withheld as if you were single and claiming no allowances or according to the last valid form submitted.

If your agency considers your submission to be false, fraudulent, or frivolous, your agency will forward copies of the documents to OPA, and the agency's Inspector General for investigation.

The City of New York does not condone the filing of tax protester withholding certificates. If you claim exemption as a tax protester, your agency will either withhold taxes as if you were single and claiming no allowances or withhold taxes according to a previous valid certificate. Your agency will submit all documentation relating to the tax protest to OPA, and the Inspector General for investigation.

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