New 2020 Form W-4 for Federal Income Tax Withholding

Posted on behalf of the Finance Department

New 2020 Form W-4 for Federal Income Tax Withholding

No action on your part is currently necessary if you do not wish to make any changes. If you elect to make changes to the amount of Federal Taxes withheld from your paycheck, the IRS requires you to complete the new 2020 W-4, Employee’s Withholding Certificate.  The 2020 Form W-4 is very different from previous versions.  The form was redesigned in response to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed in December 2017 that removed the use of personal exemptions when filing federal income taxes.  We have an automated system to allow you to change your withholding via Employee Self-Service (ESS), which can be found within the Timesheet System from the “Star” Menu, under Manage Taxes & Direct Deposit, Update Federal Withholding.  Alternatively, you may complete a paper copy and provide it to the Payroll Department.

Before completing the 2020 Form W-4, please read all instructions included with the form.  You must complete Steps 1 and 5.  Steps 2, 3, and 4 are optional, but completing them will help ensure that your federal income tax withholding will more accurately match your tax liability. 

  • Step 1 includes your personal information and your filing status.
  • Step 2 is for households (individuals or spouses) with multiple jobs.  Read this section very carefully because it can significantly affect your federal withholding.  You can either use the estimator at, use the multiple jobs worksheet on the Additional WH tab  (ESS) / page 3 (paper form), or check the box if there are only two jobs total.  It is also recommended to submit a 2020 W-4 for all other jobs for more accurate tax withholding.
  • Step 3 is used to claim tax credits for dependents.
  • Step 4 is for other adjustments.  These adjustments include:
    • Other income - additional annualized income such as interest and dividends
    • Deductions - annualized difference between the standard deduction and your planned itemized deductions
    • Additional Withholding – any additional tax figured from step 2 and/or additional tax you want withheld each pay period
  • Step 5 is used to Sign or Affirm your election.  Please note the Save button is used within ESS to sign your new W-4.  You will be prompted to affirm your election after you save your changes.

As every tax situation is different, Jefferson Lab cannot offer tax advice and cannot instruct you as to the best option for completing the W-4. However, we wanted you to be aware that if you elect to make federal withholding changes, the requirements from the IRS have significantly changed and require more effort. You need to be aware of this impact to prevent accidental under-withholding and a potential tax liability that could be due in April of 2021.