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previous page Previous Page: Publication 15 - Circular E, Employer's Tax Guide - Reminders
next page Next Page: Publication 15 - Circular E, Employer's Tax Guide - 1. Employer Identification Number (EIN)
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This publication explains your tax responsibilities as an employer. It explains the requirements for withholding, depositing, reporting, paying, and correcting employment taxes. It explains the forms that you must give to your employees, those that your employees must give to you, and those that you must send to the IRS and SSA. This guide also has tax tables that you need to figure the taxes to withhold from each employee for 2009. References to "income tax" in this guide apply only to "federal" income tax. Contact your state or local tax department to determine if their rules are different.
Additional employment tax information is available in Publication 15-A, Employer's Supplemental Tax Guide. Publication 15-A includes specialized information supplementing the basic employment tax information provided in this publication. Publication 15-B, Employer's Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits, contains information about the employment tax treatment and valuation of various types of noncash compensation.
Most employers must withhold (except FUTA), deposit, report, and pay the following employment taxes.
There are exceptions to these requirements. See section 15, Special Rules for Various Types of Services and Payments. Railroad retirement taxes are explained in the Instructions for Form CT-1.

Employer's liability.(p7)


Employers are responsible to ensure that tax returns are filed and deposits and payments are made, even if the employer contracts with a third-party. The employer remains liable if the third party fails to perform a required action.

Federal Government employers.(p7)


The information in this guide applies to federal agencies except for the rules requiring deposit of federal taxes only at Federal Reserve banks or through the FedTax option of the Government On-Line Accounting Link Systems (GOALS). See the Treasury Financial Manual (I TFM 3-4000) for more information.

State and local government employers.(p7)


Payments to employees for services in the employ of state and local government employers are generally subject to federal income tax withholding but not federal unemployment (FUTA) tax. Most elected and appointed public officials of state or local governments are employees under common law rules. See chapter 3 of Publication 963, Federal-State Reference Guide. In addition, wages, with certain exceptions, are subject to social security and Medicare taxes. See section 15 of this guide for more information on the exceptions.
If an election worker is employed in another capacity with the same government entity, see Revenue Ruling 2000-6 on page 512 of Internal Revenue Bulletin 2000-6 at
You can get information on reporting and social security coverage from your local IRS office. If you have any questions about coverage under a section 218 (Social Security Act) agreement, contact the appropriate state official. To find your State Social Security Administrator, visit the National Conference of State Social Security Administrators website at

Disregarded entities and qualified subchapter S subsidiaries.(p8)


The IRS has published final regulations section 301.7701-2(c)(2)(iv) under which QSubs and eligible single-owner disregarded entities are treated as separate entities for employment tax purposes. Under these regulations eligible single-member entities that have not elected to be taxed as corporations must report and pay employment taxes on wages paid to their employees after December 31, 2008, using the entities' own names and EINs. The disregarded entity will be responsible for its own employment tax obligations on wages paid after December 31, 2008. For wages paid before January 1, 2009, see Publication 15 (Circular E), For Use in 2008.

COBRA premium assistance credit.(p8)


The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) provides certain former employees, retirees, spouses, former spouses, and dependent children the right to temporary continuation of health coverage at group rates. COBRA generally covers multiemployer health plans and health plans maintained by private-sector employers (other than churches) with 20 or more full and part-time employees. Parallel requirements apply to these plans under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Under the Public Health Service Act, COBRA requirements apply also to health plans covering state or local government employees. Similar requirements apply under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and under some state laws. For the premium assistance (or subsidy) discussed below, these requirements are all referred to as COBRA requirements.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) allows a credit against "payroll taxes" (referred to in this publication as "employment taxes") for providing COBRA premium assistance to assistance eligible individuals. For periods of COBRA continuation coverage beginning after February 16, 2009, a group health plan must treat an assistance eligible individual as having paid the required COBRA continuation coverage premium if the individual elects COBRA coverage and pays 35% of the amount of the premium.
An assistance eligible individual is a qualified beneficiary of an employer's group health plan who is eligible for COBRA continuation coverage during the period beginning September 1, 2008, and ending December 31, 2009, due to the involuntarily termination from employment of a covered employee during the period and elects continuation COBRA coverage. The assistance for the coverage can last up to 9 months.
The 65% of the premium not paid by the assistance eligible individuals is reimbursed to the employer maintaining the group health plan. The reimbursement is made through a credit against the employer's employment tax liabilities. The employer takes the credit on line 12a of Form 941 or line 11a of Form 944 once the 35% of the premium is paid by or on behalf of the assistance eligible individual. The credit is treated as a deposit made on the first day of the return period (quarter or year). In the case of a multiemployer plan, the credit is claimed by the plan, rather than the employer. In the case of an insured plan subject to state law continuation coverage requirements, the credit is claimed by the insurance company, rather than the employer.
Anyone claiming the credit for COBRA assistance payments must maintain the following information to support their claim, including the following.
For more information, visit the IRS website at and enter keywords COBRA Health Insurance Continuation Premium Subsidy.

Comments and suggestions.(p8)


We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions. You can email us at * (The asterisk must be included in the address.) Please put "Publications Comment" on the subject line.
You can write to us at the following address: 

Internal Revenue Service 
Tax Products Coordinating Committee 
1111 Constitution Ave. NW, IR-6526 
Washington, DC 20224

We respond to many letters by telephone. Therefore, it would be helpful if you would include your daytime phone number, including the area code, in your correspondence.
previous pagePrevious Page: Publication 15 - Circular E, Employer's Tax Guide - Reminders
next pageNext Page: Publication 15 - Circular E, Employer's Tax Guide - 1. Employer Identification Number (EIN)
 Use previous pagenext page to find additional occurrences of topic items.Index for this Publication