Just when you thought you had a firm grasp on all the tax changes, the IRS is making a dramatic change to the way tax withholdings are calculated on your paycheck. Form W-4, used to calculate your paycheck withholdings, has had a major overhaul, and the changes go into effect on Jan. 1. Here’s what you need to know:
The withholding allowance system is gone. The previous form converted your tax situation into a number to determine the proper withholdings. You would take one allowance for yourself, your spouse and each dependent. The new form nixes the numeric allowance system, and instead asks you to provide estimates for income, deductions and credits. A new worksheet is included to help households with more than one job calculate the amount to withhold.
More accurate paycheck withholdings.The goal of the new form is to help you anticipate your tax liability in the new income tax environment. If properly prepared, this new version should provide payroll processors with the information they need to more accurately calculate the tax withholdings from your paychecks. But to accomplish this, you will need to make calculations and fill out worksheets on the front end.
Required for withholding changes after December. You are not required to submit a new form for 2020, but any changes to your withholdings after Dec. 31 will have to be done using the new version of Form W-4. Old forms using the allowance system will no longer be allowed to update your withholdings.
Tax planning is more important than ever. Unless you have a very straightforward tax situation, you will now need to provide a basic tax forecast on the new Form W-4. Accounting for all income, deductions, credits and potential changes to your situation that may arise in the next year are key components to an accurate forecast. Running through the tax planning process now will get your tax withholdings started off right for 2020.