Treasury and IRS unveil new Form W-4 for 2020

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service released a redesigned Form W-4 on Friday for tax year 2020, making a number of changes to earlier draft versions of the form after hearing complaints from tax professionals.

The Treasury said it doesn’t expect to make further changes to the redesign beyond some minor updates for inflation adjustments.

“Our dedicated staff at the Treasury and IRS worked tirelessly over the past year to produce a Form W-4 that is more accurate, transparent and simplifies the tax withholding experience for hardworking Americans,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin in a statement. “We are proud that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act lowered taxes for most Americans and are enthusiastic that the improved W-4 will help taxpayers better determine the correct withholding amount for their personal financial situation to more readily reap the benefits of historic tax reform.”

Form W-4 for 2020 draft

The redesigned Form W-4 employs a building block approach to replace complex worksheets with more straightforward questions that make it simpler for employees to figure a more accurate withholding. While it uses the same underlying information as the old design, the new form uses a more personalized, step-by-step approach to better accommodate individual taxpayer needs.

Employees who have submitted a Form W-4 in any year before 2020 are not required to submit a new form merely because of the redesign. Employers will continue to compute withholding based on the information from the employee’s most recently submitted Form W-4.

The Treasury and the IRS are releasing the nearly finalized improved Form W-4 now, to give employers and payroll processors extra time to learn about the new form and update their systems for next year. As usual, the IRS also plans to release withholding tables with routine adjustments for inflation in November.

Several accounting and tax professional groups had complained that earlier draft versions of the form required taxpayers to reveal too much information to their employers about outside sources of income for employees and their spouses. The Treasury and the IRS redesigned the W-4 withholding form in the wake of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which eliminated the traditional exemptions for dependents and the taxpayers themselves along with a host of deductions. Many taxpayers discovered this year as a result of the changes that they unexpectedly ended up owing taxes because they didn’t have enough money withheld from their paychecks last year. The IRS urged taxpayers to do a “paycheck checkup” last year using an online withholding calculator, but the process was complicated and relatively few taxpayers did it. Earlier this week, the IRS unveiled an improved Tax Withholding Estimator tool to aid in the process (see IRS offers new tax withholding estimate tool).

The IRS is once again urging taxpayers to do another paycheck withholdings checkup this year to ensure they have the correct amount withheld for their personal tax profile.

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