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IRS releases new W-4 form and tax withholding calculator for new tax law

MIT employees are encouraged to review federal tax withholding amounts for 2018.
Photo: Jake Belcher

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released the updated W-4 form and Withholding Calculator, which are now aligned with the changes in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

The Office of the Vice President for Finance (VPF) HR/Payroll team manages payroll for all of MIT’s employees, including students. HR/Payroll withheld federal income tax from monthly paychecks in January and February and from weekly paychecks since Feb. 2, based on the new law and the tax tables provided by the IRS. Now that the IRS Withholding Calculator — also based on the new law — is available, the IRS strongly recommends employees use this tool to do a “paycheck check-up” to be sure federal tax withholdings from their paychecks are accurate.

VPF HR/Payroll calculates the amount of federal taxes to withhold from employees’ paychecks based on two pieces of information — the tax tables provided by the IRS and withholding instructions from each employee. Those initial instructions are provided to VPF HR/Payroll via employees’ online tax withholding instructions on Atlas or a completed W-4 form when they were hired.

MIT recommends its employees review withholdings when there is a major life change (marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child, new job, significant changes in income, or other changes to personal finances), or, if after filing federal income taxes each year, they need to make an adjustment (for either over withholding or under withholding).

Given the significant changes in the new tax law, VPF HR/Payroll concurs with the IRS and strongly suggests that MIT employees review federal tax withholding amounts for 2018.

A comprehensive FAQ on using the Withholding Calculator is posted on the IRS website.

If employees want to change federal tax withholdings after using the calculator, they can do so in one of two ways:

  • Employees can log in to Atlas, and go to "About Me" on the maroon navigation bar on the top, then choose "Tax Withholding" from the menu on the left. They can then make changes using the edit tool, and save. In most cases, these changes will be reflected in the next pay date (or sometimes second pay date), depending on when they are submitted within the pay cycle.
  • Alternatively, employees can download the W-4 form — from the VPF website or the IRS — and bring the completed form to the VPF HR/Payroll Service Center in NE49-4079, which is open Monday–Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. The forms should not be sent to the IRS.

VPF HR/Payroll staff are available, in person at NE49-4079, by phone at 617-253-4255, or via email to address employees’ withholding questions as they relate to pay at MIT. VPF cannot provide individual tax advice.

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