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Who completes the W-4? Employee or Payroll?

We are not in agreement in my office. I believe it is illegal for Payroll to complete the W-4 for the employee and then have him sign it. My manager is saying we can fill in whatever he tells us and as long as he reviews it and signs it we are OK. I cannot find proof either way on the site. Any help would be appreciated.


  • I am not sure that is actually illegal for payroll to help employees complete their W-4s, but I was always told that it is a bad idea. While the employee claiming "the employer made me do it" does not get the employee off the hook with IRS for under withheld taxes, it can in theory make the employer also responsible for the results. And if the employee has to lie about just what the employer did, the employer being dumb enough to get involved in the process in the first place greatly reduces their ability to defend themselves from such a charge. Both of my last two employers had formal policies forbidding payroll (or HR) from giving tax advise other then "talk to your tax adviser (who is not us)". I always told payroll staff that the only response if someone asks you is to just say no.

  • Not the question, but I always loved on line forms programs in part because it took payroll out of any position to give advice. It also made it impossible to file out an invalid W-4.

  • Form W-4 includes detailed worksheets to help the employee figure his or her correct number of withholding allowances. An employee has to fill his /her w-4 form and submit it to the employer. An employee may want to change the number of withholding allowances or his or her withholding rate (marital status) on Form W-4 for any number of reasons when his or her personal or financial situation changes. If you receive a revised Form W-4 from an employee, you must put it into effect no later than the start of the first payroll period ending on or after the 30th day from the date you received the revised Form W-4.