If you owe the IRS $600, raise your allowance by one and you won't owe anything the next year. It's a rule of thumb. I've done it and it worked for me.
I believe you mean claim one less allowance? You're phrasing it kinda funny. Raising your allowance by one would mean claim another allowance. Which would subject less
of your income to tax withholding and make you owe more to the IRS come tax season.
Claiming one less allowance means you're subjecting another $4000 of your income to tax withholding (I actually didn't know this until I calculated it just now! I learn something new every day). This is because if you take the worth of each allowance under the different payroll periods, and multiply it by the number of paychecks you would receive, you get $4000.
For 2015, each allowance is worth:
(and more payroll cycles which probably don't apply to most people -quarterly, semiannually, annually, and daily (??) ).
Notice how to within $1, 76.9/week * 52 weeks = 153.8/2 weeks * 26 bi weekly periods = 166.7/half month * 24 bimonthly periods = 333.3/month * 12 months = $4000.
Now you owed the IRS $600, and then decreased your allowance by one to owe nothing next year. If I had to hazard a guess, this worked for you only because you are in the 15% marginal tax bracket
: $600/ $4000 = 15%.
But say somebody was in the 25% bracket. Then if they owed $600 in tax, lowering their allowance by one would subject $4000 to their marginal rate in withholding, meaning they would have an extra $1000 withheld. Resulting in a $400 interest free loan to the IRS (not that this is any substantial amount).
Point is, if you understand how paycheck withholding works, you can figure out how to get it right, without relying on rules of thumb.