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Will claiming 10 alert the government?

No. The employer has to send a copy of the W-4 to the IRS if a W-4 has more than 10 personal allowances claimed, or claimed to be exempt from federal income tax withholding and the expected wages are $200 a week or more. If the IRS Service Center thinks the W-4 filing is inappropriate, the IRS can direct the employer to treat it as if another number of personal allowances was declared. (I have a coworker to purposely claims only 9 allowances to avoid possible IRS interference in his withholdings--he doesn't even want to take the chance at 10 in case the employer turns out to be over-zealous to forward a copy of the W-4 to the IRS.)

FAQ: W-4

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