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Final Regulation Addresses Tax Withholding on Certain Periodic Retirement and Annuity Payments


Salvatore Russo

Final Regulation Addresses Tax Withholding on Certain Periodic Retirement and Annuity Payments

The IRS has issued a final regulation addressing tax withholding on certain periodic retirement and annuity payments under Code Sec. 3405(a), to implement amendments made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ( P.L. 115-97) (TCJA). The regulation affects payors of certain periodic payments, plan administrators that are required to withhold on such payments, and payees who receive such payments. The final regulation adopts, without modification, a proposed regulation that updated and replaced the provisions of three questions and answers with a new regulation regarding the default withholding rate on periodic payments made after December 31, 2020.

Withholding on Periodic Payments
Before the TCJA, if a withholding certificate (Form W-4P) was not in effect for a periodic payment, the default withholding rate on the payment was determined by treating the payee as a married individual claiming three withholding exemptions. The TCJA amended Code Sec. 3405(a)(4) so that the default withholding rate on such a periodic payment is instead determined under rules prescribed by the Treasury Secretary.

After the TCJA was enacted, the IRS issued three notices providing that, for calendar years 2018, 2019, and 2020, the default withholding rate on periodic payments under Code Sec. 3405(a)(4) is based on treating the payee as a married individual claiming three withholding allowances ( Notice 2020-3, I.R.B. 2020-3, 330; Notice 2018-92, I.R.B. 2018-51, 1038; Notice 2018-14, I.R.B. 2018-7, 353).

Under new Reg. §31.3405(a)-1, the default rate of withholding on periodic payments made after December 31, 2020, is determined in the manner described in the applicable forms, instructions, publications, and other guidance prescribed by the IRS.

Applicability Date
The final regulation applies to periodic payments made after December 31, 2020.