As new withholding looms, IRS launches tool to help small businesses

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A new online “assistant” from the IRS helps employers determine the right amount of federal income tax to withhold from workers’ pay.

The spreadsheet-based “Income Tax Withholding Assistant for Employers” helps navigate the redesigned withholding system (no longer based on withholding allowances) that goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020, for employees who fill out the redesigned W-4.

The assistant is designed to help employers who would figure withholding manually using a worksheet and either the percentage method or the wage bracket tables in Publication 15-T, “Federal Income Tax Withholding Methods.” The tool creates a profile for each employee and calculates federal income tax withholding. The tool can also help employers withhold from employees who still have a request on file using a past W-4.

Employers who already use an automated payroll system won’t need the assistant.

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IRS Tax planning