MARCH 4, 2021 – The Internal Revenue Service has issued a new W-4 form for filing year 2020. It is substantially different than its predecessor. The revision is the result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
The new design reduces the form’s complexity and increases the transparency and accuracy of the withholding system.
A “withholding” is the amount of money taken out of each paycheck throughout the year and applied to your total tax contributions that are reported annually to the IRS. Simply stated, if the money withheld is more than the amount owed, you will receive a refund. If it’s too little, there’s a good chance you’ll have to pay the difference when filing a tax return, and a penalty is possible if the still-owed amount exceeds $1,000.
While the new form uses the same underlying information as the previous version, it replaces complicated worksheets with more straightforward questions that make accurate withholding easier for employees, according to IRS.gov.
“Essentially, this is an effort by the IRS to simplify, and clarify, the withholdings process,” elaborated Capt. Zackary Smith, officer in charge of the Fort Lee Tax Assistance Center. “In theory, this new approach will make it easier for taxpayers to withhold the correct amount by answering a series of straightforward questions.”
Taxpayers who do not wish to make any changes to their previous W-4 form are not required to fill out the new version, he noted.
“Any taxpayers who have previously furnished a W-4 will not have to make any changes merely because of the update,” he said. “This means service members (and others) who already have their withholdings set up will not see any changes at all.”
However, there are cases in which a taxpayer should consider changing their withholding amount from the previous year.
“Generally, it’s a good idea to adjust your withholdings whenever something happens to change your ‘tax picture,’” Smith said. “Getting married or having a child are two good examples of events that will have an impact on how much you owe in taxes. … Adjusting your withholdings will ensure you aren’t paying too much or too little throughout the year. Taxpayers can visit www.irs.gov/individuals/tax-withholding-estimator to make changes to their withholdings using the new W-4.”
The new changes are an additional thing to consider when filing taxes this year, and Smith emphasized the TAC is available and ready to help Fort Lee service members and retirees if they have questions or need assistance filing taxes.
“Although operations look different this year due to COVID-19, the TAC is more committed than ever to offering outstanding tax preparation services,” Smith said. “To accomplish this mission, the TAC is offering drop-off/pick-up tax preparation and virtual services. We look forward to helping the military community members here with their tax-related needs.”
To make a TAC appointment, authorized patrons can visit the facility’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/fortleeTAC or call the appointment line at 804-734-5732. Those not entitled to TAC services or filing on their own can find helpful information on a variety of subjects at www.irs.gov/taxtopics.
Story by Brian Stevens
U.S. Army Garrison Fort Lee Public Affairs