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I'd claim the 23. It will be reported to the IRS. They will look closely at your return for 2004. Let 'em.

Several years ago I started a new job in August. I'd previously been self-employed and changed to employee status, meaning that I'd already paid most of what my social security deduction should be for the year. Now my new employer was going to deduct social security, the result being, unless I did something about it, a big interest-free loan for the government.
I calculated what my taxes for the year should be (relatively easy, since now my salary would be a known entity) and asked the human resources people how many deductions I should claim to pay a certain amount of withholding each check. Answer was about 15. I'm married, filing joint, no other dependents. I claimed that number. In December I put the number of dependents back to 2, effective January 1. I got a refund of $15 or something like that when my taxes for the year were filed.
If the IRS had come, asking questions like how did I arrive at that number of exemptions, I'd have told them, and let them look over my calculations.
You paid a slug of withholding on your bonus check. Effectively you paid taxes in advance. You are entitled to pay lower taxes for the remainder of the year. Go for it.
If they've got questions, you've got answers. Claim what you are entitled to, after double checking the numbers and being sure the calculation is correct.
Best wishes, Chris
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