What the new W-4 form means for HR professionals
By Elaine Stanfield, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, DocuSign
From recruiting and interviewing prospective hires to navigating complex payroll and benefits systems, there are plenty of things HR operations professionals have to worry about on a daily basis. But a tax form change shouldn’t be one of them.
We’re talking about the W-4, the standard tax form workers fill out for employers before getting hired, which just underwent a dramatic overhaul. The goal of the new form is to better incorporate the changes ushered in by the new tax law (signed by President Trump in 2017) so that the amount held back for taxes in each employee’s paycheck is more accurate. Sounds pretty straightforward, right?
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Whereas the current form is easy to fill out and doesn’t require too much math, the newer version involves quite a bit more personal information, forecasting of expenses, chart referencing, and mathematical calculations. Just a few wrong numbers could cause drastic changes to the amount that’s being withheld—potentially resulting in serious financial repercussions come tax season. Suffice it to say, many individuals filling out the form are going to feel confused and annoyed.
But they’re not the only ones in for a bit of a headache. The increase in the number of questions and the new structure of the form will impact HR operations professionals as well since it will lead to changes in the payroll process that will cost valuable time.
Make life easier with DocuSign’s New W-4 Template
If a company wants to get ahead of these changes and offer a more streamlined experience for potentially frustrated employees, they need to get the right systems in place ASAP. Luckily, DocuSign’s new W-4 Template, made easily available via Power Forms, offers a quick and easy solution. Using the shareable template, employees can fill out the form faster and HR professionals can upload the templates to their systems more efficiently.
Rather than task workers with complicated calculations, the pre-built Docusign template does the fast math for the user to eliminate human errors. And in addition to taking paper out of the equation, it also removes any confusion employees might have about what they need to fill out by tagging required fields. Not to mention, highly sensitive personal information is kept safe and secure.
Furthermore, by digitizing the process, HR professionals are able to avoid the complexity of obtaining wet signatures and the tedious back-and-forth required when illegible handwriting makes vital data unreadable.
Being proactive about future use cases
The good news (for now) is that existing employees aren’t required to fill out W-4s again. But since payroll companies like ADP and SAP will be adjusting how they process forms to better match the information on the new version, it could cause some big problems down the road. Whenever a payroll system is redesigned, old W-4s likely won’t cut it, and HR professionals may well be left scrambling. Those that familiarize themselves with and use the W-4 Template for new employees now will be better prepared for any larger company-wide form asks in the future.
Want to get started? Existing eSignature customers can access the W-4 template for free, and non-DocuSign customers can sign up for eSignature to access the form. For those looking to further expedite the process, DocuSign Retrieve lets you download form data en masse for use in external systems, which will save even more precious time.