You may use various methods of figuring federal income tax withholding. The methods described below may be used instead of the common payroll methods provided in Publication 15 (Circular E). Use the method that best suits your payroll system and employees.
Employers must use a modified procedure to figure the amount of federal income tax withholding on the wages of nonresident alien employees. This procedure is discussed in Publication 15 (Circular E). Before you use any of the alternative methods to figure the federal income tax withholding on the wages of nonresident alien employees, see Publication 15 (Circular E). Do not use the Combined Income Tax, Employee Social Security Tax, and Employee Medicare Tax Withholding Table on pages 47–66 for figuring withholding on nonresident alien employees.
Using your employee's annual wages, figure the withholding using the Percentage Method, TABLE 7–ANNUAL Payroll Period, in Publication 15 (Circular E). Divide the amount from the table by the number of payroll periods, and the result will be the amount of withholding for each payroll period.taxmap/pubs/p15a-008.htm#en_us_publink1000236703
You may withhold the tax for a payroll period based on estimated average wages, with necessary adjustments, for any quarter. For details, see Regulations section 31.3402(h)(1)-1.taxmap/pubs/p15a-008.htm#en_us_publink1000236704
An employee may ask you, in writing, to withhold tax on cumulative wages. If you agree to do so, and you have paid the employee for the same kind of payroll period (weekly, biweekly, etc.) since the beginning of the year, you may figure the tax as follows.
Add the wages you have paid the employee for the current calendar year to the current payroll period amount. Divide this amount by the number of payroll periods so far this year including the current period. Figure the withholding on this amount, and multiply the withholding by the number of payroll periods used above. Use the percentage method shown in Publication 15 (Circular E). Subtract the total tax already deducted and withheld during the calendar year from the total amount of tax calculated. The excess is the amount to withhold for the current payroll period. See Rev. Proc. 78-8, 1978-1 C.B. 562, for an example of the cumulative method.taxmap/pubs/p15a-008.htm#en_us_publink1000236705
A part-year employee who figures income tax on a calendar-year basis may ask you to withhold tax by the part-year employment method. The request must be in writing and must contain the following information:
- The last day of any employment during the calendar year with any prior employer.
- A statement that the employee uses the calendar year accounting period.
- A statement that the employee reasonably anticipates that he or she will be employed by all employers for a total of no more than 245 days in all terms of continuous employment (defined below) during the current calendar year.
Complete the following steps to figure withholding tax by the part-year method.
- Add the wages to be paid to the employee for the current payroll period to any wages that you have already paid to the employee in the current term of continuous employment.
- Add the number of payroll periods used in step 1 to the number of payroll periods between the employee's last employment and current employment. To find the number of periods between the last employment and current employment, divide the number of calendar days between the employee's last day of earlier employment (or the previous December 31, if later) and the first day of current employment by the number of calendar days in the current payroll period.
- Divide the step 1 amount by the total number of payroll periods from step 2.
- Find the tax in the withholding tax tables on the step 3 amount. Be sure to use the correct payroll period table and to take into account the employee's withholding allowances.
- Multiply the total number of payroll periods from step 2 by the step 4 amount.
- Subtract from the step 5 amount the total tax already withheld during the current term of continuous employment. Any excess is the amount to withhold for the current payroll period.
See Regulations section 31.3402(h)(4) for more information about the part-year method.
A term of continuous employment may be a single term or two or more following terms of employment with the same employer. A continuous term includes holidays, regular days off, and days off for illness or vacation. A continuous term begins on the first day that an employee works for you and earns pay. It ends on the earlier of the employee's last day of work for you or, if the employee performs no services for you for more than 30 calendar days, the last workday before the 30-day period. If an employment relationship is ended, the term of continuous employment is ended even if a new employment relationship is established with the same employer within 30 days.taxmap/pubs/p15a-008.htm#en_us_publink1000236707
You may use other methods and tables for withholding taxes, as long as the amount of tax withheld is consistently about the same as it would be under the percentage method shown in Publication 15 (Circular E). If you develop an alternative method or table, you should test the full range of wage and allowance situations to be sure that they meet the tolerances contained in Regulations section 31.3402(h)(4)-1 as shown in the chart below.
|If the tax required to be withheld under the annual percentage|
| The annual tax|
withheld under your
method may not differ
by more than—
|Less than $10.00|| $9.99|
|$10 or more but under $100|| $10 plus 10% of the|
excess over $10
|$100 or more but under $1,000|| $19 plus 3% of the|
excess over $100
|$1,000 or more|| $46 plus 1% of the|
excess over $1,000