Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Certificate, has been redesigned for 2020. Previously, income tax withholding was based on an employee’s marital status and withholding allowances or tied to the value of the personal exemption. With the revised Form W-4, however, income tax withholding is generally based on the worker’s expected filing status and standard deduction for the year. Furthermore, workers can also choose to have itemized deductions, the Child Tax Credit, and other tax benefits reflected in their withholding for the year.

The redesigned Form W-4 makes it easier for withholding to match tax liability. While it uses the same underlying information as the old design, it replaces complicated worksheets with more straightforward questions that make accurate withholding easier for employees.

Here’s what taxpayers should know about the new Form W-4 for 2020:

Five Steps

The form is divided into 5 steps. The only two steps required for all employees are Step 1, where you enter personal information such as your name and filing status, and Step 5, where you sign the form. The form is not valid unless it is signed and dated by the employee. Taxpayers should only complete Steps 2 – 4 only if they apply to your tax situation because doing so will make your withholding more accurately match your liability.

New Employees

All new employees starting employment in 2020 are required to fill out the new Form W-4; however, employees who have furnished Form W-4 in any year before 2020 are not required to furnish a new form merely because of the redesign. Employers will simply continue to compute withholding based on the information from the employee’s most recently furnished Form W-4.

Employees with a change in life events such as marriage, buying a house, or the birth of a child, however, may want to fill out the form, however.

More than One Job

It is important for people with more than one job at a time (including families in which both spouses work) to adjust their withholding to avoid having too little withheld. For most taxpayers, using the Tax Withholding Estimator located on the IRS website is the most accurate way to do this, although they may fill out the Multiple Jobs Worksheet found in the instructions instead.

If a spouse works both should check the box on their respective Forms W-4; however, only one spouse should fill out the rest of the form (i.e., Steps 3 and 4). If not, and both spouses claim the child tax credit, for example, it is possible that not enough will be withheld and they will owe money at tax time.

Withholding will be most accurate if the highest paid spouse completes Steps 3 – 4(b) on the Form W-4.

Additional Withholding

As in the past, employees can also choose to have an employer withhold an additional flat-dollar amount each pay period to cover, for example, income they receive from the gig economy, self-employment, or other sources that are not subject to withholding.

If you have any questions about tax withholding, need assistance filling out the redesigned 2020 Form W-4, or would like more information about this topic, please call.

Another New Design for Form 1040

The new 2019 Form 1040, which was redesigned last year to be “postcard-sized” has been revised yet again. As with last year’s design, the form gathers information about the taxpayer(s) and dependents. It is also the form you need to sign and date when filing your return. New for this year, taxpayers aged 65 and older may be able to use Form 1040-SR (see below for more information).

More complex tax situations will generally require using one or more of the supplemental schedules that were also new for 2018, but which for 2019, have been consolidated into three schedules (Schedules 1, 2, and 3). Of note, is that the 2018 Schedule 6, Foreign Address and Third Party Designee, has been incorporated into the Form 1040.

As in 2018, Forms 1040A and 1040EZ no longer exist. Instead, taxpayers should use Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR.

Virtual Currency Questions

For the 2019 tax year, taxpayers who engaged in a transaction that involved virtual currency (e.g., Bitcoin and Ether) will need to file Schedule 1, Additional Income and Adjustments To Income. Taxpayers are reminded to maintain records that support any information provided on their tax returns such as records documenting receipts, sales, exchanges or other dispositions of virtual currency and the fair market value of the virtual currency.

Refunds

While more than nine out of 10 refunds are issued in less than 21 days, some tax returns require additional review and take longer to process than others. This may be necessary when a return has errors, is incomplete or is affected by identity theft or fraud.

Furthermore, tax law requires that the IRS hold refunds on tax returns claiming the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) or Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) until mid-February – even the portion not associated with the EITC or ACTC. Even so, most of these types of refunds are expected to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards by the first week of March as long as the taxpayer chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with the tax return.

As a reminder, once refunds are issued by the IRS there may be additional time for processing by financial institutions, which must accept and deposit the refunds to bank accounts and products. Typically, refunds and payments are not processed on weekends or holidays, which can affect when refunds reach taxpayers. Refund information will generally be available within 24 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of an electronically filed return.

Tax Filing Deadline

For most taxpayers the filing deadline to submit 2019 tax returns is Wednesday, April 15, 2020; however, there’s no better time than right now to begin gathering information needed to prepare your tax return.

Questions?

If you have any questions about the new tax forms or need assistance preparing and filing your tax return, help is just a phone call away.

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