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New 2020 Federal Form W-4

Due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will release a new version of the federal Form W-4 (Employee Withholding Certificate) for 2020.

While the final version is not yet available, employees can review the latest draft form and instructions to familiarize themselves with upcoming changes.

This page will be updated with additional information as more detail is received from the IRS.

(last updated: 9/24/2019)

Common 2020 W-4 Questions

Will I need to submit a new W-4?

If you were hired before January 1, 2020, the IRS does not require that you submit a new form.  Your withholding will continue based on your previously-submitted W-4.

However, if you wish to change your withholding after January 1, 2020, you will need to use the new form to do so.

Which form should new employees use?

  • Any new employee hired before January 1, 2020, should continue to use the current (2019) version of the W-4. 
  • Employees hired on or after January 1, 2020, are required to use the new form.

When can I submit a new W-4?

The IRS has not yet published the final form.  Once it is made available to the public, the new form will be used for withholding changes effective January 1, 2020, or later.

If you wish to make adjustments to your withholding prior to January 1, complete and submit the 2019 version of the form.

What happens if I don't submit a 2020 form?

  • If you are a current employee with a valid W-4 already on file, your withholding will continue based on your previously-submitted form.
  • If you are a new employee and you do not submit a valid Form W-4, taxes will be withheld as if you are a single filer with no adjustments (per IRS regulations).

How will Northwestern handle the new W-4?

The provider of Northwestern's human resources and payroll system, Oracle, has committed to releasing a software update necessary for the new Form W-4. 

This update requires significant underlying changes to our HR system and weekly payroll processes.  Because the new form is not yet final, we don't expect to receive the update from Oracle until very late in 2019.  The patch will then be tested and implemented by the Northwestern IT and myHR teams.

Regardless, Northwestern will accept the new W-4 from employees beginning January 1, 2020.  We will keep our myHR Administration users abreast of any changes to the system, which should have minimal visibility to employees.  Any potential downtime needed to apply this update will be communicated in advance. 

Do these changes affect my state tax withholding?

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act does not directly affect state tax withholding, though state tax laws and forms may change from time to time.

At this time, the State of Illinois has not announced any changes to the current Illinois withholding form, the IL-W-4.

If you have income tax withheld for another state, we always recommend referring to that state's appropriate governmental resources for the most up-to-date state withholding instructions and forms.

I have more questions. Where can I get some help?

Northwestern is not able to provide individual guidance on completion of the new W-4 or any related tax implications.

The IRS has made the following resources available:

For additional assistance, we recommend that you contact a tax professional.