IRS Issues New Tables for 2018 Tax Withholding
Starting Feb. 15, 2018, employers must use new tables to determine how much income tax to withhold from their employees’ paychecks. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued the required new tables, in Notice 1036, on Jan. 9, 2018. The notice contains early release copies of the “Percentage Method Tables for Income Tax Withholding” that will appear in IRS Publication 15 (“Employer’s Tax Guide”).
According to the IRS, Notice 1036 is the first in a series of steps that the agency will take to help employers improve the accuracy of their tax withholdings under changes made by a new tax reform law, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, enacted on Dec. 22, 2017.
Employers should become familiar with the new tables and begin using them as soon as possible, but no later than Feb. 15, 2018. Employers should also monitor the IRS’s Notice 1036 website for future guidance regarding income-tax withholding under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
BackgroundThe Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made several changes to the tax code that will affect individual taxpayers in 2018. For example, the new law:
New Tables Work with Existing Forms
W-4 for 2018The new tables in Notice 1036 are designed to work with the Forms W-4 that employees have already filed with their employers to claim withholding allowances for 2018. Thus, employers do not need to obtain updated Forms W-4 from their employees to start using the new tables.
For 2019, however, the IRS is revising Form W-4 to more fully reflect the new law and to help individuals determine whether to adjust their withholding. Once released, the revised Form W-4 can be used in 2018 by employees starting a new job and by existing employees who wish to update their withholding in response to the new law or changes in their personal circumstances. Until the revised Form W-4 is released, employees and employers should continue to use the 2017 Form W-4.
Future GuidanceIn addition to the Form W-4 updates in progress, the IRS is currently revising its online tax-withholding calculator to help individuals determine their withholding under the new tax law. The IRS anticipates that the new calculator will be available by the end of February, 2018, and encourages taxpayers to use it to adjust their withholding as soon as it is released. According to the IRS, the Form W-4 and calculator revisions will reflect additional changes made by the new tax law, including:
Changes in available itemized deductions;
The IRS also indicated that it will include more detailed guidance on tax withholding, along with the information in Notice 1036, in Publication 15 and related publications in early 2018.
Cyber security researchers recently announced the discovery of two major security flaws that could allow hackers to bypass regular security measures and obtain normally inaccessible data. The flaws, referred to as Meltdown and Spectre, are both caused by design flaws found in nearly all modern processors. These vulnerabilities can be exploited to access all of the data found in personal computers, servers, cloud computing services and mobile devices.
Because Meltdown and Spectre are both caused by design flaws, experts believe that they will be harder to fix than traditional security exploits. Additionally, software patches that have already been released to help address the vulnerabilities can cause computer systems to slow down significantly, which may impact their ability to perform regular tasks.
Researchers believe that Meltdown and Spectre may be limited to processors manufactured by different companies, but also warn that the design flaws that contribute to Meltdown and Spectre have been present for years. Here are some key details about each flaw:
When Meltdown and Spectre were originally discovered in 2017, researchers immediately reported them to major hardware and software companies so work on security fixes could begin without alerting hackers. As a result, services and applications offered by companies like Microsoft, Google, Apple and Amazon have already been updated to help defend against the flaws. However, you shouldn’t rely solely on a software patch to protect against these vulnerabilities. Here are some steps you can take to protect your computer systems and devices from Meltdown and Spectre: