Each quarter, all employers who pay wages subject to income tax withholding (including withholding on sick pay and supplemental unemployment benefits) or social security and Medicare taxes must file Form 941, Employer's QUARTERLY Federal Tax Return, unless the employer is required to file Form 944 or the following exceptions apply. Form 941 must be filed by the last day of the month that follows the end of the quarter. See the Calendar
on page 2.
If you receive written notification that you qualify for the Form 944 program, you must file Form 944, Employer's ANNUAL Federal Tax Return, instead of taxmap/pubs/p15-014.htm#en_us_publink100011766
Form 941. If you received this notification, but prefer to file Form 941, you can request to have your filing requirement changed to Form 941 if you satisfy certain requirements. See the Instructions for Form 944 for details. Employers who must file Form 944 have until the last day of the month that follows the end of the year to file Form 944.
The following exceptions apply to the filing requirements for Forms 941 and 944.
- Seasonal employers who no longer file for quarters when they regularly have no tax liability because they have paid no wages. To alert the IRS that you will not have to file a return for one or more quarters during the year, check the "Seasonal employer" box on line 17 of 2008 Form 941 (line 19 of 2009 Form 941). When you fill out Form 941, be sure to check the box on the top of the form that corresponds to the quarter reported. Generally, the IRS will not inquire about unfiled returns if at least one taxable return is filed each year. However, you must check the "Seasonal employer" box on every Form 941 that you file. Otherwise, the IRS will expect a return to be filed for each quarter.
- Household employers reporting social security and Medicare taxes and/or withheld income tax. If you are a sole proprietor and file Form 941 or Form 944 for business employees, you may include taxes for household employees on your Form 941 or Form 944. Otherwise, report social security and Medicare taxes and income tax withholding for household employees on Schedule H (Form 1040), Household Employment Taxes. See Publication 926, Household Employer's Tax Guide, for more information.
- Employers reporting wages for employees in American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or Puerto Rico. If your employees are not subject to U.S. income tax withholding, use Form 941-SS or Form 944-SS. Employers in Puerto Rico use Form 941-PR or Form 944-PR. If you have both employees who are subject to U.S. income tax withholding and employees who are not subject to U.S. income tax withholding, you can file only Form 941 (or Form 944) and include all your employees' wages on that form. For more information, see Publication 80 (Circular SS).
- Agricultural employers reporting social security, Medicare, and withheld income taxes. Report these taxes on Form 943, Employer's Annual Federal Tax Return for Agricultural Employees.
The Form 941 e-file program allows a taxpayer to electronically file Form 941 or Form 944 using a personal computer, modem, and commercial tax preparation software. For more information, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov
and click on the e-file
link, or call 1-866-255-0654. See Publication 1855, Technical Specifications Guide for the Electronic Filing of Form 941, Employer's QUARTERLY Federal Tax Return, for technical specifications.
Reporting agents filing Forms 941 or Form 944 for groups of taxpayers can file them electronically. See Reporting Agents in section 7 of Publication 15-A.taxmap/pubs/p15-014.htm#en_us_publink100011769
For each whole or part month that a return is not filed when required (disregarding any extensions of the filing deadline), there is a failure-to-file penalty of 5% of the unpaid tax due with that return. The maximum penalty is generally 25% of the tax due. Also, for each whole or part month that the tax is paid late (disregarding any extensions of the payment deadline), there is a failure-to-pay penalty of 0.5% per month of the amount of tax. For individual filers only, the failure-to-pay penalty is reduced from 0.5% per month to 0.25% per month if an installment agreement is in effect. You must have filed your return on or before the due date of the return to qualify for the reduced penalty. The maximum amount of the failure-to-pay penalty is also 25% of the tax due. If both penalties apply in any month, the failure-to-file penalty is reduced by the amount of the failure-to-pay penalty. The penalties will not be charged if you have a reasonable cause for failing to file or pay. If you receive a penalty notice, you can provide an explanation of why you believe reasonable cause exists.
In addition to any penalties, interest accrues from the due date of the tax on any unpaid balance.
If income, social security, or Medicare taxes that must be withheld are not withheld or are not paid, you may be personally liable for the trust fund recovery penalty. See Trust fund recovery penalty
in section 11.
Use of a reporting agent or other third-party payroll service provider does not relieve an employer of the responsibility to ensure that tax returns are filed and all taxes are paid or deposited correctly and on time.taxmap/pubs/p15-014.htm#en_us_publink100011771
Employers with multiple locations or divisions must file only one Form 941 per quarter or one Form 944 per year. Filing more than one return may result in processing delays and may require correspondence between you and the IRS. For information on making adjustments to previously filed returns, see section 13
- Do not report more than 1 calendar quarter on a Form 941.
- Use the preaddressed form mailed to you. If you do not have the form, get one from the IRS in time to file the return when due.
- If you use a form that is not preaddressed, show your name and EIN on it. Be sure that they are exactly as they appeared on earlier returns.
- See the Instructions for Form 941 or the Instructions for Form 944 for information on preparing the form.
If you go out of business, you must file a final return for the last quarter (last year for Form 944) in which wages are paid. If you continue to pay wages or other compensation for periods following termination of your business, you must file returns for those periods. See the Instructions for Form 941 or the Instructions for Form 944 for details on how to file a final return.
If you are required to file a final return, you are also required to furnish Forms W-2 to your employees by the due date of your final return. File Forms W-2 and W-3 with the SSA by the last day of the month that follows the due date of your final return. Do not send an original or copy of your Form 941 or Form 944 to the SSA. See the Instructions for Forms W-2 and W-3 for more information.taxmap/pubs/p15-014.htm#en_us_publink100011774
If possible, get a copy of Form 941 or Form 944 (and separate instructions) with a revision date showing the year for which your delinquent return is being filed. See Quick and Easy Access to IRS Tax Help and Tax Products on page 40 for various ways to secure any necessary forms and instructions. Contact the IRS at 1-800-829-4933 if you have any questions.
Table 3. Social Security and Medicare Tax Rates (for 3 prior years)
|Calendar Year||Wage Base Limit (each employee)||Tax Rate on Taxable Wages and Tips|
|2008–Medicare||All Wages|| 2.9%|
|2007–Medicare||All Wages|| 2.9%|
|2006–Medicare||All Wages|| 2.9%|
When there are discrepancies between Forms 941 or Form 944 filed with the IRS and Forms W-2 and W-3 filed with the SSA, the IRS must contact you to resolve the discrepancies.
To help reduce discrepancies:
- Report bonuses as wages and as social security and Medicare wages on Forms W-2 and on Form 941 or Form 944,
- Report both social security and Medicare wages and taxes separately on Forms W-2, W-3, 941, and 944,
- Report employee share of social security taxes on Form W-2 in the box for social security tax withheld (box 4), not as social security wages,
- Report employee share of Medicare taxes on Form W-2 in the box for Medicare tax withheld (box 6), not as Medicare wages,
- Make sure the social security wage amount for each employee does not exceed the annual social security wage base limit (for example, $102,000 for 2008),
- Do not report noncash wages that are not subject to social security or Medicare taxes as social security or Medicare wages,
- If you used an EIN on any Form 941 or Form 944 for the year that is different from the EIN reported on Form W-3, enter the other EIN on Form W-3 in the box for "Other EIN used this year,"
- Be sure that the amounts on Form W-3 are the total of amounts from Forms W-2, and
- Reconcile Form W-3 with your four quarterly Forms 941 or annual Form 944 by comparing amounts reported for:
- Income tax withholding;
- Social security wages, social security tips, and Medicare wages and tips. Form W-3 should include Form 941 or Form 944 adjustments only for the current year (that is, if the Form 941 or Form 944 adjustments include amounts for a prior year, do not report those prior year adjustments on the current-year Forms W-2 and W-3);
- Social security and Medicare taxes. The amounts shown on the four quarterly Forms 941 or the annual Form 944 , including current-year adjustments, should be approximately twice the amounts shown on Form W-3. This is because Form 941 and Form 944 include both the employer and employee shares of social security and Medicare taxes; and
- Advance earned income credit (EIC).
Do not report on Form 941 or Form 944 backup withholding or income tax withholding on nonpayroll payments such as pensions, annuities, and gambling winnings. Nonpayroll withholding must be reported on Form 945, Annual Return of Withheld Federal Income Tax. See the Instructions for Form 945 for details. Income tax withholding required to be reported on Forms 1099 or W-2G must be reported on Form 945. Only taxes and withholding properly reported on Form W-2 should be reported on Form 941 or Form 944.
Amounts reported on Forms W-2, W-3, and Forms 941 or Form 944 may not match for valid reasons. If they do not match, you should determine that the reasons are valid. Keep your reconciliation so that you will have a record of why amounts did not match in case there are inquiries from the IRS or the SSA. See the Instructions for Schedule D (Form 941) if you need to explain any discrepancies that were caused by an acquisition, statutory merger, or consolidation.