Use the following guidelines for withholding, depositing, and reporting taxable noncash fringe benefits. For additional information on how to withhold on fringe benefits, see Publication 15 (Circular E), section 5.taxmap/pubs/p15b-003.htm#en_us_publink1000101913
Generally, you must determine the value of noncash fringe benefits no later than January 31 of the next year. Before January 31, you may reasonably estimate the value of the fringe benefits for purposes of withholding and depositing on time.taxmap/pubs/p15b-003.htm#en_us_publink1000101914
For employment tax and withholding purposes, you can treat fringe benefits (including personal use of employer-provided highway motor vehicles) as paid on a pay period, quarter, semiannual, annual, or other basis. But the benefits must be treated as paid no less frequently than annually. You do not have to choose the same period for all employees. You can withhold more frequently for some employees than for others.
You can change the period as often as you like as long as you treat all of the benefits provided in a calendar year as paid no later than December 31 of the calendar year.
You can also treat the value of a single fringe benefit as paid on one or more dates in the same calendar year, even if the employee receives the entire benefit at one time. For example, if your employee receives a fringe benefit valued at $1,000 in one pay period during 2009, you can treat it as made in four payments of $250, each in a different pay period of 2009. You do not have to notify the IRS of the use of the periods discussed above.taxmap/pubs/p15b-003.htm#en_us_publink1000101915
The above choice for reporting and withholding does not apply to a fringe benefit that is a transfer of tangible or intangible personal property of a kind normally held for investment or a transfer of real property. For this kind of fringe benefit, you must use the actual date the property was transferred to the employee. taxmap/pubs/p15b-003.htm#en_us_publink1000101916
You can add the value of fringe benefits to regular wages for a payroll period and figure income tax withholding on the total. Or you can withhold federal income tax on the value of fringe benefits at the flat 25% rate that applies to supplemental wages. See section 7 in Publication 15 (Circular E) for the flat rate (35%) when supplemental wage payments to an individual exceed $1,000,000 during the year.
You must withhold the applicable income, social security, and Medicare taxes on the date or dates you chose to treat the benefits as paid. Deposit the amounts withheld as discussed in section 11 of Publication 15 (Circular E).taxmap/pubs/p15b-003.htm#en_us_publink1000101917
To estimate the amount of income tax withholding and employment taxes and to deposit them on time, make a reasonable estimate of the value of the fringe benefits provided on the date or dates you chose to treat the benefits as paid. Determine the estimated deposit by figuring the amount you would have had to deposit if you had paid cash wages equal to the estimated value of the fringe benefits and withheld taxes from those cash wages. Even if you do not know which employee will receive the fringe benefit on the date the deposit is due, you should follow this procedure.
If you underestimate the value of the fringe benefits and deposit less than the amount you would have had to deposit if the applicable taxes had been withheld, you may be subject to a penalty.
If you overestimate the value of the fringe benefit and overdeposit, you can either claim a refund or have the overpayment applied to your next Form 941. See the Instructions for Form 941.
If you paid the required amount of taxes but withheld a lesser amount from the employee, you can recover from the employee the social security, Medicare, or income taxes you deposited on the employee's behalf and included on the employee's Form W-2. However, you must recover the income taxes before April 1 of the following year.taxmap/pubs/p15b-003.htm#en_us_publink1000101918
If you choose to pay your employee's social security and Medicare taxes on taxable fringe benefits without deducting them from his or her pay, you must include the amount of the payments in the employee's income. Also, if your employee leaves your employment and you have unpaid and uncollected taxes for noncash benefits, you are still liable for those taxes. You must add the uncollected employee share of social security and Medicare tax to the employee's wages. Follow the procedure discussed under Employee's Portion of Taxes Paid By Employer in section 7 of Publication 15-A. Do not use withheld federal income tax to pay the social security and Medicare tax.taxmap/pubs/p15b-003.htm#en_us_publink1000101919
You can treat the value of taxable noncash benefits as paid on a pay period, quarterly, semi-annually, annually, or on another basis, provided that the benefits are treated as paid no less frequently than annually. You can treat the value of taxable noncash fringe benefits provided during the last two months of the calendar year, or any shorter period within the last two months, as paid in the next year. Thus, the value of taxable noncash benefits actually provided in the last two months of 2008 could be treated as provided in 2009 together with the value of benefits provided in the first 10 months of 2009. This does not mean that all benefits treated as paid during the last two months of a calendar year can be deferred until the next year. Only the value of benefits actually provided during the last two months of the calendar year can be treated as paid in the next calendar year.taxmap/pubs/p15b-003.htm#en_us_publink1000101920
The special accounting rule cannot be used, however, for a fringe benefit that is a transfer of tangible or intangible personal property of a kind normally held for investment or a transfer of real property.taxmap/pubs/p15b-003.htm#en_us_publink1000101921
Use of the special accounting rule is optional. You can use the rule for some fringe benefits but not others. The period of use need not be the same for each fringe benefit. However, if you use the rule for a particular fringe benefit, you must use it for all employees who receive that benefit.
If you use the special accounting rule, your employee also must use it for the same period you use it. But your employee cannot use the special accounting rule unless you do.
You do not have to notify the IRS if you use the special accounting rule. You may also, for appropriate reasons, change the period for which you use the rule without notifying the IRS. But you must report the income and deposit the withheld taxes as required for the changed period.taxmap/pubs/p15b-003.htm#en_us_publink1000101922
If an employee uses the employer's vehicle for personal purposes, the value of that use must be determined by the employer and included in the employee's wages. The value of the personal use must be based on fair market value or determined by using one of the following three special valuation rules previously discussed in section 3.
- The lease value rule. See page 25.
- The cents-per-mile rule. See page 23.
- The commuting rule (for commuting use only). See page 24.
You can choose not to withhold income tax on the value of an employee's personal use of a highway motor vehicle you provided. You do not have to make this choice for all employees. You can withhold income tax from the wages of some employees but not others. You must, however, withhold the applicable social security and Medicare taxes on such benefits.
You can choose not to withhold income tax on an employee's personal use of a highway motor vehicle by:
- Notifying the employee as described below that you choose not to withhold and
- Including the value of the benefits in boxes 1, 3, 5, and 14 on a timely furnished Form W-2. For use of a separate statement in lieu of using box 14, see the Instructions for Forms W-2 and W-3.
The notice must be in writing and must be provided to the employee by January 31 of the election year or within 30 days after a vehicle is first provided to the employee, whichever is later. This notice must be provided in a manner reasonably expected to come to the attention of the affected employee. For example, the notice may be mailed to the employee, included with a paycheck, or posted where the employee could reasonably be expected to see it. You can also change your election not to withhold at any time by notifying the employee in the same manner.taxmap/pubs/p15b-003.htm#en_us_publink1000101924
The actual value of fringe benefits provided during a calendar year (or other period as explained under Special accounting rule, earlier) must be determined by January 31 of the following year. You must report the actual value on Forms 941 (or Form 944) and W-2. If you choose, you can use a separate Form W-2 for fringe benefits and any other benefit information.
Include the value of the fringe benefit in box 1 of Form W-2. Also include it in boxes 3 and 5, if applicable. You may show the total value of the fringe benefits provided in the calendar year or other period in box 14 of Form W-2. However, if you provided your employee with the use of a highway motor vehicle and included 100% of its annual lease value in the employee's income, you must also report it separately in box 14 or provide it in a separate statement to the employee so that the employee can compute the value of any business use of the vehicle.
If you use the special accounting rule, you must notify the affected employees of the period in which you used it. You must give this notice at or near the date you give the Form W-2, but not earlier than with the employee's last paycheck of the calendar year.