Form W-4

HR Glossary for HR Professionals

Glossary of the most common HR terms and acronyms to assist professionals navigating the ever-growing and ever-changing world of HR terminology.

Form W-4

What is Form W-4?

Form W-4 is an IRS tax form that employees fill out so that employers can withhold the correct federal income tax from their wages.

Employees can also withhold additional taxes from their wages, particularly if they hold multiple jobs, receive income from self-employment, and if their spouse also earns income.

When Do Employees Fill Out W-4s?

New employees are required to complete Form W-4 upon hire. This helps organizations remain compliant with the federal government, as, according to the IRS, “[e]mployers are required by law to withhold employment taxes from their employees.”

Employment taxes include federal income taxes as well as Social Security and Medicare taxes, otherwise known as FICA taxes.

Current employees may make changes to their withholding at any time. With this in mind, many individuals elect to make adjustments during life events such as the birth of a child or marriage, as well as at the beginning of each year.

Can Employers Advise Employees on W-4 Withholdings?

Employees may ask HR representatives how much they should withhold or expect to have withheld. HR teams must know that employers cannot advise employees on their W-4 responses; they can explain wage thresholds, base withholding amounts, and other basic information about how W-4s are completed.

(The IRS also developed a spreadsheet that includes many of these details.) 

Related Terms: Form I-9, Onboarding

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