IRS definition of ‘first date of employment’


The wait is finally over! The IRS has just issued its new Form W-4 in response to the changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.


Here’s a rundown of what Payroll needs to know.


Changes to boxes


For starters, you may notice the fields that employers must complete look different on the 2018 Form W-4.


Box 8, is still reserved for the employer’s name and address and your Employer Identification Number must still be entered in Box 10.


However, there’s a new field for Box 9. Instead of the optional office code field that was on the form, Box 9 is now used to report the worker’s “first date of employment” with your company.


This change was designed to help companies meet state child support requirements for new hire reporting.


According to the 2018 instructions for Form W-4, when completing Box 9, the first date of employment is the date the worker first performed services for payment at your company.


If an employee was rehired after at least a 60-day separation period, the rehire date should be used instead.


To go along with the change to Box 9, the text in Box 8 now instructs employers to fill out boxes 8, 9 and 10 when submitting the form to a state directory of new hires. The address listed in Box 8 must be the location where child support income withholding orders should be sent.


Employers still only need to fill out boxes 8 and 10 if they’re just submitting the form to the IRS.


Helping employees


With all the attention the new W-4 form’s been getting, you’ll likely be fielding questions from employees.


Be prepared to provide workers with copies of Forms W-4 and their most recent paystubs (or instructions on retrieving them). You may also want to direct employees to the IRS’ new withholding calculator so they can estimate their tax liability, found at


Also, be ready to implement any withholding changes employees submit ASAP so you’ll be well within the 30-day period required by the IRS, per Publication 15.


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