The new Form W-4 for 2020 is different. Really different. In December 2019, the IRS released a new Form W-4 for 2020. The first major redesign since 1987, it’s much different than any previous version.

Form W-4, aka Employee’s Withholding Certificate, instructs employers on how much tax to withhold from an employee’s paycheck. Any employees beginning a new job in 2020, or any current employees wishing to change their withholdings, will face a drastically different form.

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Watch ASAP’s webinar

In this video, Diana and Karissa from ASAP Accounting & Payroll provide an overview of the changes and explain how to complete the redesigned W-4. All employees hired in 2020 must complete the new Form W-4; current employees may opt to complete the form to update their tax withholdings. For more information and resources on the 2020 W-4, visit our Help Center.

What’s so different?

Gone are the numbers. No really. There are no longer any “allowances,” which were used to calculate tax withholding on the old W-4. Those “allowances” were based on personal exemptions, which are now unavailable under the current tax code.

Instead, the 2020 Form W-4 accounts for all sources of income as amounts to determine the correct tax withholding amount. These sources of income include multiple jobs, spouse’s income, self-employment, and even income from dividends and interest. It’s almost like a mini-tax return!

Why the change?

In 2017, the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act got rid of the dependency deduction and increased the standard deduction. All taxpayers saw these changes come to life in 2018 on their tax returns. While the IRS waited until now to update this form, this new Form W-4 reflects those changes to the federal tax code.

Impact on workforce – the employees

If you are starting a new job, you will be required to complete this new Form W-4. Or, if you are a current employee and just want to update your withholding, you will be required to complete this new form.

The IRS has created an online estimator to help employees determine the most accurate amounts to withhold. You can access the IRS Tax Withholding Estimator online at (you will need a copy of your most recent pay stub and tax return).

Impact on business – the employers

Because the new Form W-4 is significantly different from previous versions, communicating the changes to employees will be a challenge. As an employer, you must balance the desire to help your employees with the understanding that you should not be giving tax advice.

It will take more time for employees to complete this form. You should not expect employees to complete this form on their first day of work and in a short amount of time. Instead, you might consider sending this form ahead of time and allowing employees ample time to use the IRS Tax Withholding Estimator in order to accurately complete the Form W-4 for payroll set up.